Sansevieria Checkup at the Solstice
I have about thirty Sansevierias, all bought in the last three years, and I'm still a neophyte in their cultivation. At this point my plants have been indoors for two months plus, with close to four months to go before they can go outdoors. Inside the environment isn't the friendliest. It's cooler than they like and there's not enough light either. Most of my plants are in my room, on my work table or in the windows. They have a couple of flourescent electric lamps that give some light and indirect light from the windows; heat comes from the air rising from the wood stove in the living room and radiating from the wall which backs up to that same stove. The days are very short now and it's been chilly lately, so the room is at its coolest and darkest. A few of the tenderest Sans, mostly variegated kinds, are in the south-facing kitchen window close to the stove, and on the top bookshelf in the living room I've put my new S. ballyi, whose predecessor I killed by overwatering when it was too cool, plus a puny young Hahnii. It's probably the warmest spot in the house on account of the rising heat.
So far the plants seem to be hanging on. 'Coppertone' (to my delight) and S. masoniana both pupped shortly before I brought them indoors for the winter, and the new shoots have continued to grow. The cuttings that arrived in October are....well, they are. Potted and, I hope, getting established. My S. suffruticosa got a fungal infection in October, possibly from having stayed out too long in cooling weather: I had to cut about half of it off, but haven't seen any further signs of disease, so that's okay. S. parva has sent up a flowering stalk for the first time. I watered the plants, sparingly, every week or two, until mid-December. The weather was mild and sunny so that the house tended to stay warm, and I would give them a bit of water in the late morning, so they'd have time to dry out before the cool nighttime. Now it's chillier both outdoors and inside, and I'm holding off on watering. Many of the plants look a little dry--leaves slightly wrinkled, not turgid--but they'll have to wait. Better a bit dehydrated than dying of rot. It could be that there are other problems that I haven't spotted yet--I suspect there are a few snails hiding and munching the leaves, and who knows what else could be going on--but I don't see anything definitely alarming.
Four months still to go. When it gets warm in the spring I'll take them outside, repotting the Sans that I didn't pot this fall, checking the roots, moving some that have grown well into larger containers, and just enjoying looking at the plants. I hope they get safely through the winter. I'll be more cautious about watering when spring comes: there's a period when it's too warm for a fire in the house, but too cool indoors to be giving the Sansevierias water. That's how I killed my S. ballyi last year; so far my only fatality (but my nurseryman assures me that mine are all easy varieties). And meanwhile I can think about how I might grow them better once they're outdoors. I'm thinking about rigging up a kind of shade greenhouse for the 'jungly' types where they can enjoy perhaps a higher humidity than is possible under the pergola in the open air. And the 'deserty' types I might give more sun.
So, I'm wondering, how are the rest of you wintering your Sansevierias? Do you have my problems and worries? Have you rigged up ingenious systems to carry your plants safely through the winter? How are your plants doing?