The Reasons Why is Snake Plant Called Mother in Law’s Tongue

The snake plant or the mother in law’s tongue is one of the most favorite plants. You might have it already in your place but you still have no idea why it is called the mother in law’s tongue. So, what’s the story behind the nickname?

The Reasons Why Is Snake Plant Called Mother in Law’s Tongue

For those who are wondering, the reason why is the snake plant called the mother in law’s tongue is because their leaves are sharp, pointed, or severe, just like the sharp tone of the mother in law when they lose their control or when they cannot hold their tongue when they feel that their daughter or son in law does something offended.

Mother in law’s tongue

Everything About Snake Plant or Mother in Law’s Tongue


  • Common Names: Mother in law’s tongue, snake plant, Saint George’s sword, viper’s bowstring hemp
  • Botanical or Scientific Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Monocots
  • Order: Asparagales
  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • Subfamily: Nolinoideae
  • Genus: Dracaena
  • Species: D. trifasciata
  • Origin: Western Africa
  • Max Growth (approx.): Height 30 inch or 30 cm


There are currently around 70 different varieties of the snake plant, native to Africa, Madagascar, and southern Asia. These variations include:

  • Sansevieria trifasciata: Sansevieria trifasciata is the most favorite species for gardening. This species is the one that is called mother in law’s tongue due to its sharply pointed leaves.  sometimes the snake plant can flower. But it is such a rare thing and won’t happen more than once every year. And it usually happens in the springtime and the ones that bloom are the ones that are placed outdoors all year long.
  • Sansevieria twist: As you can guess from its name, the Sansevieria twist has twisted leaves. The green and yellow foliage is produced by this variation. There is a possibility of this variation to bloom but after flowering, it will stop to produce new leaves. It is able to grow up to a height of about one to two feet, and to approximately the same width.
  • Sansevieria robusta: Sansevieria robusta is the one that is originally from India. This one is such a unique one and it is also in demand. Its robust nature and its immunity to neglect makes it known as a bulletproof plant. Compared to the other species, its leaves are shorter and wider and it has the same color and pattern of horizontal leaf cross banding.

Tips to take care of the snake plant:

  • Light: The snake plants have low maintenance. They tolerate full sun and they are also so good at handling low light. However, the indirect sunlight is still the best one for them.
  • Water: It is easy for the snake plant to rot so it is needed to make sure the soil is well drained and watering it too much is also not a best idea, especially during winter. Take note to allow the soil to dry in between watering is a must. As one of the plants from the arid deserts, planting them in sandier soils is recommended.
  • Temperatures: The temperatures around 55 to 855 degrees Fahrenheit are fine for the snake plants. However, the best one is still the warmer. If the temperature in your place is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to think twice to plant them as it can harm them.
  • Toxicity: Apparently, the toxicity levels of the snake plants are low for humans. However, they are a bit higher for the pets like cats and dogs, as stated by the ASPCA or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These plants have natural insecticides and fungicides named saponins.  These substances of snake plant are toxic for living beings and can cause gastronomical reactions when the plants are ingested, including vomiting or diarrhea in animals and human. Any part of the snake plants is toxic. It can cause fatal things if your pet at home consumes too much of snake plant leaves in the worst cases.
  • Pests and issues: While it is true that the snake plants are easy to grow, they are not the kinds of plants without issues. The common issues usually revolve around overwatering and cold. Even though they are also known as pests resistant, it does not mean they are free from the insect problems. It is possible for them to be attacked by mealybugs and spider mites. The leaves will be wounded and there will be leaf shedding when the sap of the leaves is sucked by these two. If your snake plants have mealy bugs or spider mites and you want to get rid of them, you can dab the mealy bugs with alcohol and wash the leaves and increase the humidity around the plant if you want to eliminate the spider mites.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilizer is one of the most important things for the snake plant. Like the other plants placed indoors, this plant does not need that much but fertilizer is needed as it gives some advantages for snake plant. It is the best provider of the nutrients. When you are going to purchase the fertilizer for your indoors snake plant, the beginners might have no idea which fertilizer is good for the snake plant. If you feel the same way, some of the recommended fertilizers for the snake plants include Perfect Plants Liquid Snake Plant Fertilizer, Indoor Plant Food Slow Release Pellets by Aquatic Arts, Lilly Miller 10-10-100 Plant Food, The Andersons PGF Plant Food, Lebanon Seaboard Fertilizer, Jobe’s Houseplant Food Spikes, Southern Ag Fertilizer, Botanicare Fertilizer Pure Blend, and so on. The products are usually available online in case you do not want to go out.

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