Sansevieria trifasciata outside in SoCal?

dimitrig(SoCal z10a/21)September 30, 2013

I have seen this plant (also called snake plant) used indoors in bright light, but I noticed that the Ritz Carlton in downtown Los Angeles had these outside in a planter next to a south-facing wall. They create a very striking effect when planted en masse.

I have a difficult spot in my yard under a sycamore tree that gets full sun in winter when the tree loses it leaves and almost total shade (bright indirect light) the rest of the year. This spot is also fairly dry even though I have irrigation, because the tree roots soak up all the moisture.

The only plants I have been able to grow successfully in this spot are some types of azaleas, clivia, daylilies, agapanthus, and coleus (as an annual). Clivia in particular is well-suited.

It would be great if I could use Sansevieria trifasciata in this spot, but I am concerned about whether the full sun in winter will harm it. I am also concerned about frost, but when I saw it planted outside at the hotel it made me think this is maybe a non-issue (or else maybe they cover it when a frost is expected).

Can I plant Sansevieria trifasciata outside in SoCal in a spot like I described?

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GeeS 9b

Regular tall S. trifasciata may fry in that kind of sun, and will definitely take heavy damage at anything even approaching freezing temps. The dwarf forms are more hardy, and I have a few types of Sansevieria outside here, where it hit the high teens two of the last three winters. I keep them in protected spots and covered; all took damage but survived. But the tall ones? Fuhgettaboutit.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:23PM
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dimitrig(SoCal z10a/21)

Thanks. I would be happy with the dwarf varieties. In fact, the ones I saw were no more than 2 feet tall. Any recommendations?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:46PM
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GeeS 9b

Sorry, I don't know the names of any of the dwarf trifasciata varieties. This is the one I've had the best luck with, though I also have a bird's nest type, along with S. cylindrica and S. elliptica. I also had several others at one time, but they didn't survive our winters. The pictured plant stays very short and grows fast enough to recover from winter damage quickly. I still think direct overhead sun may be a stopper for you.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 11:25AM
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I find the opposite here in California.. all the dwarf forms of Sansevieria trifasciata to be extremely cold sensitive, and rot sensitive (particular if cool/cold water drips on their crowns)... but the tall ones do very well in full shade to full sun (though full sun does fry them if not along the coast)... Santa Monica sports tens of thousands of these plants all over their public walkways, in front of banks and office bulidings. Most Sansevierias are much hardier than most on line sources claim, at least to cold, and I have had luck with nearly a dozen species in inland California where it gets below freezing almost every year. In fact, I have yet to lose an outdoor Sansevieria (though certainly have not tried them all by a long shot)... except.. the dwarf forms of S trifaciata (in fact, I can't keep those alive for even a month outdoors). Indoors, however, those dwarf forms do quite well.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 3:20PM
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GeeS 9b

The plant I posted above survived high teens -- twice, although well-protected in a raised bed w/overhang, so perhaps mid-twenties, The first time it went undamaged while a normal S. trifasciata right next to it froze to the ground. I've had tall S. trifasciata show significant damage at mid-thirties. Go figure. One big difference in our climes is the ease with which I'm able to keep them dry through winter.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Its a different story here. Cold and wet - even with no frost- can rot them out in the bay area. The only real reliable easy to find variety is the grey leafed. That I see doing fine around Hayward in clumps. Why its so much more hardy then the tri color,I cant say. But,same story for Dracenea marginata...the all green grows fine here,the "candy cane" striped..wont survive.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 5:12PM
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