Sansevieria Checkup at the Solstice

melissa_thefarm(NItaly)December 23, 2007

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?

Merry Christmas!


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Merry Christmas to you too. Besides living in the states, my situation is very similar to yours. I have been growing Sans for about the same time, and I am growing them in a temperate climate...where they probably suffer a bit over winter.
All are inside. Some in my home, some in my office, and some in a "plant room" at my work. The latter is the best situation. It is a tiny room with shop lights, but the temperature is kept very warm, about 78-80F. The newest plants, variegates, and leaf cuttings reside here. Because the heat is running in this room often, the air is very dry and I actually have to soak the pots 2-3 times per week. The plants at home, or in my office, are kept quite dry right now. Everything seems to be doing well except that I have a population of mealybugs haning on. It seems I have gotten rid of them, only to have them appear somewhere else later on. In the Spring, I may end up applying a systemic insecticide to the soil.
I can't wait for Spring so they can go back outside. We had unusally frequent rains this past summer. The Sans thrived even with the rain, probably because it was warm at the same time. They don't seem to mind the moisture when it is very warm and they are actively growing.
One recent surprise is a little variegated cylindrica...a single leaf which I obtained last Spring. It sat there and did nothing, even shriveled. I thought it was gone, but it finally decided to put out some new growth. -Chris

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 12:06PM
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dufflebag2002(Calif. 91607)

Mellissa, Merry Christmas to all of you. Mellissa, if you keep your home at 55F they will do well, but please don't water daily. They are not Africa violets. at most once a month, or set them in a pan of 1" water they will take up what they need, don't leave them there for more than an hour. Your watering every day is inviting trouble. Sansevieria simply do not get pests, in Spring Bayer Rose food with a systemic. 2/1 fertilizer
If you want to push root crowth plant them in the soil mix with bone meal. Crushed oyster shells will work as well, it also lets air into the soil which all plants need. Thet grow well in Thailand because of the warmth and frequent rains, save rainwater, and slightly warm it. Plants do not like the shock of cold frigid water on their roots. Either would you, Brrrrrr as I shiver her typing. There should not be any pest on Sans. none, nada, they simply do not have any. Use soap and water with a little greese added, or old dirty dish soap, that grandma used to use on the Roses, or Neem oi, or Windex, 50-50 alcohol, I even used Whisky, when I had nothing else in the house, but I don't have mealies, ants, fungus or flying black or white bugs, Fungus is ually created by warm air and not enough air circulation. Examine any new plant coming into the growing area, if you find one bug, there has got to be two, so spray all plants at the same time. Norma

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 1:13PM
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amany(MI / 6)

Most of my sans seem to be pushing new growth. I have them all about a foot away from an east-facing window. I don't water them much though. Maybe about once every 4 - 6 weeks. They don't seem to really need it much and are growing without getting it very often.

I don't have as many as the rest of you. I only have about 9 pots of them.

My green hahniis are growing.

Variegated hahniis (one golden and the other is a hahnii jade, I think) are growing too, but slower.

My moonshine was growing but seems to have stopped.

My black robusta (I think that's what it is) might be growing at bit. I'm not quite sure yet.

My dooneri (or parva)seems to be growing every day. It's pushing a new shoot on the other side of the container that's getting bigger and bigger.

I have a variegated cylindrical sans (I don't know it's name). It's one of the common types that I bought from a grocery store that don't get more than 12 inches tall. This one seems to be asleep right now.

I have one of the common green sans that are everywhere. Laurenti? It's a pup I took from my mom's plant a few months ago. It's growing slowly, but steadily right now.

My subspicata is in deep hibernation. It's at a complete standstill. I recently gave it some water because the leaves were a bit "bendy". They firmed after getting the water, but it won't get any more until I see some growth or the leaves get that way again. It grew quite a bit over the summer.

The javanica is growly. It's sent two shoots from it's center in the past 7 or 8 weeks.

So, most are growing, and some are not. None of them are getting much water right now though. I don't know yet if my sans will always have these particular growth habits. Most are pups I received over the past 8 or 9 months. The good news is that I haven't killed them! We have an agreement that if I leave them alone, they will grow.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 6:24PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Yeah Amany,

I like that agreement! Sometimes I forget & pay attention to them & then they balk. I have 2 of abt 15 that are balking as we speak!

I just need to remember to leave them alone!!!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 8:10PM
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amany(MI / 6)


That's the best thing about having more plants than room. It makes it easier for me not to hover!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 8:35PM
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