Habitat: Tropical Africa, India
Cultivation: Easy. Pay attention to the tops of their leaves: if damaged, the growth of the entire leaf will be compromized.
Curiosity: Sansevierias increase the level of oxygen in the house, reduce electrosmog and purify the air from pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.
Everyone has had a Sansevieria at home sooner or later. Not many people, however, know the beneficial properties that this plant has: according to a study carried out by NASA, Sansevierias increase the level of oxygen in the house, reduce electrosmog and purify the air from pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.
Some people say that the name “Sansevieria” was given in honour of the Neapolitan nobleman Raimondo di Sangrio, Prince of San Severo, who lived in 1700. The hypothesis is not actually confirmed and the origins of the name could be different.
The genus Sansevieria, sometimes simplified in Sanseveria, groups a series of perennial plants, of the same family of the agave but also of the sting, “Ruscaceae”, which is characterized by beautiful and large upright leaves, thick and generally bright colors.
Sansevierias are native to tropical Africa and India.
They are plants of very variable height: from about 30 cm to over one meter. The stem is absent; as root they generally have a rhizome. A rhizome is a modified stem that serves certain species to store water and nutrients to live in climates with unfavorable periods.
Sansevieria are generally divided into two types: those with long lance-shaped or cylindrical leaves, more frequent and requested in the gardening world, and those with rosette-shaped leaves, less common and less popular.
The leaves generally have different colors, are often striated, as in Sansevieria trifasciata, where the green and lanceolate leaves have a large bright yellow stripe in the center, or the S. cylindrica. It is precisely the bright colors of these leaves that make these plants very appreciated in the world of nursery and gardening. They were even used in Feng-Shui, an ancient Chinese practice that, among other things, included rules for architecture and interior space management.
Their flowers develop in an inflorescence called in botany “raceme”, but which, in fact, is a simple bunch, and are of different colors depending on the species: greenish-white, pink, purple, or red. Usually they are very small and inconspicuous, but they have a good scent and in some species are carried in very beautiful bracts (leaves modified to carry flowers). Rarely, however, Sansevierias grown in pots come to bloom.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Here below are a few species of Sansevieria:
- Sansevieria cylindrica
- Sansevieria trifasciata
TIPS FOR GROWING
Sansevieria are not very demanding as ornamental plants. Pay attention to the apexes of their leaves: if they are damaged, the growth of the leaves will be compromised. Follow these few tips and your Sansevieria will thrive abundantly.
- Always place your Sanseveria in a bright spot but away from direct sunlight.
- As indoor plants they adapt very well, also because of their sensitivity to low temperatures: they do not tolerate temperatures below 10ºC.
- Any substrate is ok, as long as it is well draining (adding perlite can help) and fertile: Sanseveria are not particularly demanding in terms of growing medium.
- In spring, if possible, remember to fertilize your Sansevieria with liquid products specific for succulents, possibly rich in nitrogen.
- As with all succulents, watering should be done with caution: always wait until the soil is dry before watering, and give it little water. It is better not to spray.
- Repotting should be done every 1-2 years, in March – April, choosing small but deep pots, which can contain the rhizome.
For the propagation of Sansevierias you can use both the division of the tufts and the leaf cutting. For the division of the tufts, you must be careful to cut the rhizome cleanly, with a sharp knife. For the cuttings, you can use portions of leaf about 5 centimeters in size, which should always be replanted respecting the direction of growth.