I’m a big fan of the Sansevieria trifasciata, (AKA: snake plant, viper’s bowstring hemp, mother-in-law’s tongue or Saint George’s sword). You’ve probably character around various office buildings, doctor’s offices, etc. It’s an incredibly hearty soul, needs little care and is difficult to kill. Because of this these outstanding qualities, it was the first plant I gave to each kid to care for. They keep them in their rooms, because not only are they great plant-pets, they also preform a kind of photosynthesis miracle: they are amazing nocturnal air purifiers.
I truly love these guys. They are so super-hearty and independent, it’s nearly impossible to kill them. In the winter, they only need to be watered every three months or so, in fact, anymore than that and they may develop rot! They tolerate low-lights, so they are ideal for indoor plants in a place like Canada, where daylight is a rare commodity indoors during the winter months. They don’t mind the sunlight either. I usually park them up against a wall that receives indirect sunlight and give them a quarter-turn every month or so (or else they lean and tend to grow a bit crooked).
My kids love their snake plants, and treat them like pets. They are both named Snakey, which is only fair because they are in fact the exact same plant (more about that later). I’ve overheard my son having a chat with Snakey in his room. I think he tells Snakey his worries when he doesn’t want to share with anyone else. Snakey never judges! My daughter prefers to sing to her Snakey. He’s about as tall as she is, and she dances around her room and sings to him like he’s a part of a play. He doesn’t sing back, but I think she prefers it that way. At least, he’s always on his mark!
I first got a snake plant for my son Wolf’s room when we discovered he had something called “Reactive Airway” when he was about 2 years old. Reactive Airway is a form of asthma that comes on strong when triggered. For Wolf, the Trigger was upper respiratory infections like the common cold which could leave him fighting for air with colds that always lasted 3-4 weeks with a nasty, wheezing cough. Occasionally it left him with pneumonia. His medications worked fairly well, at least enough to keep him out of hospital, but when we were doing our research about reducing triggers, we came across the idea of naturally purifying his room with plants!
Snake Plants are good air purifiers by removing toxins (such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene) from the air. They have a reputation a for sick building syndrome. They use the crassulacean acid metabolism process, which absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at night, making it an excellent plant to keep in the bedroom. They have other medicinal uses: they have antiseptic properties and are used by some cultures as bandages, but frankly, I’ll stick with Polysporin and Band-Aid. It should be noted that they are poisonous to humans and pets if ingested, so they should never be left unattended with little kids or overly-mouthy dogs (my dogs have zero interest in them).
One of the greatest qualities of these plan easy they are to propagate. Once you buy one, you’ll never have to buy another. You can easily reproduce these guys by simply cutting a few leaves and replanting them in new soil and after a few weeks it will take root and you’ve got yourself an entirely new snake plant. My children LOVE doing this. The snake plant in Sun’s room was from the leaf cuttings of our original plant in Wolf’s room. Wolf has made a gift of his snake plant cuttings to friends, usually along with a hand-made instruction booklet where he’s written and drawn pictures on how to care for the plant. He also likes to decorate and paint the pots he transplants them into. It’s a fantastic gift from one kid to another! Our entire neighborhood is populated by Wolf’s Snakey!
I hope I’ve inspired you to run out and get yourself one of these wonderful plants. I’ve included some links below for more information about them, including how to propagate them.
About Snake Plants:
Snake Plants and Air Purification:
How to Propagate Snake Plants: