The snake plant is made of tough stuff. It grows primarily across Africa, in very dry conditions. It’s used to places so hot that during the day it keeps all its pores completely closed, so it doesn’t lose any water to evaporation. When the temperature cools at night, its pores open, releasing all the oxygen its been holding in.
Its toughness makes it a dream of a houseplant. If you’re a beginner, this is the one for you. It thrives on neglect. It can live in any light conditions and doesn’t care if you forget to water it. The only thing it hates is too much water. If you want to help it grow faster, give it a feed with liquid fertiliser once per month in spring and summer.
Low-key as it is, the snake plant is treasured all over the world. Across Africa, it’s associated with Ogun, the deity of war, and Oya, the bringer of storms. In China, it’s the ‘tiger’s tail orchid’; in Brazil, the ‘sword of Saint George’. Basically, this plant is pretty famous.
If you’d like this plant with broader, darker leaves, check out his sister Susie. They make great companions.
Did you know?
Another nickname for this plant is ‘viper’s bowstring hemp’, because its strong fibres were once used to make strings for bows.