Plants in the sansevieria genus have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity due to their dramatic shape and low-maintenance nature.  There's more to these tropical beauties, however, than meets the eye.

Origins and History

Sansevieria is native to tropical western African (Nigeria and the Congo), Madagascar, and southern Asia.  In parts of northern Australia, it is actually considered a weed! 

Sansevieria belongs to the botanical family Asparagaceae which includes not only edible garden asparagus but also plants as diverse as bluebell and agave.  The genus name sansevieria comes from an 18th-century Italian, Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero, who was a faithful patron of horticulture.

Unique Attributes

One of the reasons that sansevierias are so hardy is their use of a specialized process called crassulacean acid metabolism.  This means that the pores on sansevieria leaves open to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide exclusively at night, preventing water from evaporating through the pores in the hot daytime sun. 

Because of their specialized metabolic process and their large leaf surface area, sansevierias are also very effective air purifiers and can absorb small amounts of common air pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde.


As previously mentioned, sansevierias are drought resistant; some varieties have even been nicknamed the "bulletproof plant" because they are so difficult to kill!  One sure way to kill your sansevieria, however, is through over-watering.  These plants do not like to sit in moist soil, so be sure that your container has drainage holes and don't water the plant until the soil has started to dry out.

While sansevierias prefer medium light, they can tolerate all levels of light except bright direct light; this can cause the leaves to burn.  Sansevierias are also frost-intollerant--if you move your plant outside during the warmer summer months, be sure to bring it back inside before the first frost.

If you think this unique plant is right for you or for another plant-lover in your orbit, you can order a Sansevieria for delivery anywhere in Lexington, KY or come pick one out in our greenhouses! 

Flora Michler