There are well over 60 snake plant or Sansevieria types. Some are much more common as houseplants and make for fantastic additions to any home. They are hard to kill and contribute positively to the air quality.
Snake plants are part of the lily family. You may hear the plant referred to as the “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue”. In reality, this is only one snake plant variety – the most common species. Snake plants Sansevieria come in a range of types and sizes, from as small as 6 inches tall to as high as 12 feet.
Plants at the latter end of the scale would obviously not make for great house plants. But in this article, we’ll take a look at 26 of the most common varieties you can grow in your home.
Why is it Called a Snake Plant?
The name can be attributed primarily to the plant’s appearance. Some say the upright, vertical structure of the leaves seems to represent a snake posed in a striking position – like a cobra.
The other name commonly used – “mother-in-law’s tongue”- refers to the ”sharpness” of the leaf. Perhaps that’s not an entirely flattering description.
Different Types of Snake Plants & Sansevieria Varieties
Here are just 26 of the most popular varieties of snake plant available for brightening up a home. There are also brief descriptions of some key elements for the identification of sansevieria varieties.
1. Sansevieria Trifasciiata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’
Bantel’s Sensation is a variation of the trifasciata, originating as a West African plant. It’s more commonly known as the white sansevieria. The plant can grow up to 32 inches.
The distinctive white line running along the edges of its leaves makes it a wonderful specimen to look at. It can also have vertical white lines along the leaves. Either way, it’s a striking plant, waiting to start a conversation.
2. Sansevieria Ballyi
The Sansevieria Ballyi is also called the dwarf sansevieria. It is a relatively small snake plant at just 6 inches high. This variety is especially prone to root rot, so keep watering to a minimum.
3. Sansevieria ‘Black Gold’
When it comes to attractiveness, black gold is certainly amongst the top-ranking snake plants. The dark green body of the leaf stands in beautiful contrast to the yellow edges (hence the ‘gold’). They grow up to 35 inches high and do very well in low light.
4. Sansevieria Canaliculata
The Sansevieria Canaliculata hails from the exotic Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. Its tropical origins mean it cannot really do well in drought conditions, so it may need a bit more watering than other varieties of snake plant. That said, do not overwater. They are still succulents and will not enjoy moist soil.
5. Sansevieria Cleopatra
Cleopatra combines brown and green patterns on its leaves and grows to around 12 inches. The brown edges may fool you into thinking that the watering regime is wrong.
But don’t worry, that’s the natural color. The plant grows slowly, with leaf arrangements in a rosette shape.
6. Sansevieria ‘Cylindrica’
This is a strikingly visual sansevieria species with an unusual leaf shape. Also known as the African spear plant, the leaves do actually resemble the cylindrical snake plant form of a spear.
Sometimes the plant produces a flower spike from the middle of the leaves that contains small flowers. This makes it particularly pretty, especially when it reaches a surprising 6 feet tall.
7. Sansevieria ‘Desert’
These leaves are pointed and have a red tint to them, giving them the nickname ‘rhino grass’.
They are found in the desert regions of the Kalahari and are notably good with drier conditions. They also do well as houseplants, though, provided you don’t overwater them.
8. Sansevieria Ehrenbergii ‘Blue Sansevieria’
The name is deceiving. These leaves are green with a copper touch, not blue at all. But it’s the shape that will attract your eyes.
The leaves seem to grow on top of and out of each other, with two rows growing in opposite directions. It does best in partial sunlight and will be happy in your home.
9. Sansevieria Eillensis Chahin
Spiky flowers and long leaves identify this lovely hardy plant. The leaves are blue-green and grow downward, reaching 5 inches long and about an inch wide. Older plants produce leaves that roll into cylindrical shapes.
10. Sansevieria Fischeri
Fischeri is a fascinating variety. It starts off as a cluster or rosette of leaves reaching 16 inches. Some go on to another stage after a few years.
They suddenly change structure to long cylindrical upright leaves that can reach several feet in height. Only consider one of these for your home if you’ve got the space indoors.
11. Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Futura Robusta’
Futura robusta is a tough old plant, reaching 24 inches when fully grown. Sporting a silver-green color, with short leaves that are broad.
Dark green stripes run across the leaf, making it a striking addition to your indoor plant collection.
12. Sansevieria ‘Golden Hahnii’
Beautiful light green rosettes are the trademark of these fine succulents. There may be dark green and golden yellow streaks along the edges.
This short snake plant makes for beautiful table-standing ornaments, especially with pebble beds. They look exceptionally neat and fill a small pot beautifully.
13. Sansevieria Gracilis
Pointy, long, and narrow, the gracilis seems to want to prick any unwelcome attention-givers. It grows up to 18 inches, with its long, sprawling, somewhat spiky leaves reaching out in all directions. It may be too big for a dinner table but can do well in a corner or as a centerpiece.
14. Sansevieria Kirkii ‘Star Sansevieria’
With leaves reaching around 6 feet, this variety requires a bit of space but is nonetheless popular with owners.
Principally dark with fluorescent green patterns, it makes for a handsome plant, standing tall in a room.
The leaves do indeed spike skyward, fanning out eventually into a star-like shape. You may encounter these by the name Pangane Sansevieri.
15. Sansevieria ‘Laurentii’
This is another trifasciata variation and it has a glorious pattern across its broad leaves. Golden yellow edges outline a gorgeous patterned green leaf (horizontal stripes most prominently), growing from a rosette. Rising up to four feet, it has the potential to dominate the room.
16. Sansevieria Masoniana ‘Mason’s Congo’
If you’ve encountered a snake plant called a whale fin or shark fin, it’s this one – the Mason’s Congo.
Broad and thick, it’s an unusual-looking snake plant. It has a pale center, with leaves that grow outward almost horizontally. But it’s not shy of reaching up to four feet in height.
It’s a popular option for offices and public spaces, due to its low maintenance.
17. Sansevieria ‘Moonshine’
Moonshine is known partly for its air purification properties and mostly for its beautiful color. It has a silvery sheen, hence the name, referring to the silvery light of a bright moon.
The color varies, depending on the light situation, but the lovely upright broad leaves create a rich, dense plant that always looks attractive.
18. Sansevieria Parva ‘Kenya Hyacinth’
It’s not exactly clear why Sansevieria Parva is referred to as a hyacinth, other than the pleasant smell emanating from its flowers.
This little gem produces between 6 and twelve leaves in a rosette shape. It grows a respectable 16 inches and produces white flowers, which have a lovely scent.
19. Sansevieria Patens
Sansevieria Patens form a rosette-based structure, growing up to 3 feet. It’s another variety that features ‘longer’ leaves. The leaves are cylindrical and grooved, and slender, reaching out from the center of the plant.
20. Sansevieria Pinguicula
Pinguicula is a somewhat unusual variation of the sansevieria, due to its structure of growth. It’s also called the walking sansevieria and seems to resemble a dwarf snake plant, though it is not. The leaves are broad and thick (“fat”, as it were, which accounts for its Latin name).
21. Sansevieria Samurai
This is a truly beautifully colored plant. The alternate names offer a clue as to why – it is also known as the Blue Sansevieria, and the Sword Sansevieria.
Dark green and blue dominate the thick leaves. The leaves branch out in two distinct rows, alternating their directions.
22. Sansevieria Silver Queen
Leaves look like swords, offering a silvery hue as the name suggests. It’s in actual fact a pale green, reaching around 3 feet in height and 2 inches across at its broadest. This variety will do well on a porch as well as indoors.
23. Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Mother-in-law’s Tongue’
The most popular variation of the snake plant by far, so much so that most snake plants are now referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue.
Beautiful, long, and slender leaves grow upward and skyward, with three distinctive dark and light green patterns to brighten up any room.
24. Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Twist’
This snake plant has a particularly interesting tip – literally. The leaves twist at the ends, and it’s therefore called the ‘Twisted Sister’. This also differentiates it from the more traditional, tall, sword-like snake plant leaves.
It’s not a particularly large variation at 9 inches high, but it grows slowly. Some reports suggest there may be a giant variety that can reach 2 feet.
25. Sansevieria Whitney
Perhaps this is one of those plants that deserves its name of snake plant because it has a snake pattern on its leaves.
The leaves otherwise look typical for a snake plant, which is to say they are long and look like soft green swords, complete with sharp tips. They also grow upward, reaching about 20 inches in height.
26. Sansevieria Zeylanica ‘Ceylon Bowstring Hemp’
Another tall and slender leaf that grows upward, this variety reaches 2.5 feet (24+ inches). It’s one of the Asian varieties of sansevieria but is still tough to kill.
Like many other snake plants, its leaves are sword-like, offering delightfully patterned leaves varying in shades of green. It may sometimes be referred to as the viper’s bowstring hemp.
Which is the Best Snake Plant?
This is an awkward question to answer when it comes to types of sansevieria snake plant. Firstly, it’s worth noting that all snake plants are great when it comes to ease of care.
They don’t take a lot of effort and as mentioned they are great for the environment, actually improving the air quality in your home.
So, it really comes down to appearance and personal choice. If you’re looking for something tall and imposing, a Sansevieria Cylindrica or Star Sansevieria may be for you.
On the other hand, the Samurai variation is uniquely colored, and the Twist is unique in its own way.
But the Mother-In-law’s Tongue is by far the most popular version of the plant, and there’s probably a good reason for that. For first-time owners, it would seem reasonable to suggest this one as the best option.
Is a Snake Plant a Succulent?
Yes, a snake plant is a succulent, originating from Africa and with some varieties cultivated in Asia. As such, it does not require a lot of water, and should not be overwatered at all.
Read more about snake plants being succulents here.
What is the Benefit of a Snake Plant?
Snake plants have a few key characteristics that make them excellent houseplants.
They are Hard to Kill
If you’re a novice plant owner or your apartment seems ill-situated for most plants (bad light, etc.), a snake plant is a great option to try. They are extremely hardy plants, and can survive incredibly unsuitable conditions.
If you have poor light in your home, a snake plant is more likely to survive than most others. You might also be the type of owner that forgets that you have plants in your home. The snake plant will survive a missed watering – even a few.
Tip: If you’re the kind of owner that forgets waterings, try a watering globe – fill and forget! It’s the easy way to go.
Snake Plants Clean the Air
A snake plant is a superb cleanser of the air. And that’s not just an opinion. It routinely scored as one of the top air purifiers in NASA tests. In particular, it takes Trichloroethylene (TCE), Benzene, and Formaldehyde from the air.
Snake Plants Provide Oxygen
A remarkable study once concluded that 8 snake plants could sustain the oxygen for one person in a completely sealed room.
Snake plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, especially at night. For a full-sized home, a dozen or more could offer remarkable air quality benefits.
Combined with its cleansing properties, scientists have also recommended these plants for high-toxin environments like factories and manufacturing plants.
Taking Care of Snake Plant Varieties
Snake plant care is easy, requiring relatively little attention compared to other plants. Apply these tips to develop the healthiest succulent plants.
Snake plants can survive in low light conditions. But if you want to see bright colors and dark greens, place the plant in a bright spot in the room, out of direct sunlight.
Place the plant in a well-draining pot and soil, and only water it when the soil is dry. Succulents draw ambient water from the soil very well, and do not do well in moist soil. They only occasionally need plant food or fertilizer as well.
Snake plants are happy at a standard room temperature. If you can, keep them out of drafts and windy window or door areas. They will also do well outdoors, provided the temperatures are moderate to warm.
Should You Get A Snake Plant?
This sansevieria species list is by no means exhaustive. But they are the most common and likely types one would select for a home.
There’s no reason why a snake plant shouldn’t be a part of your houseplant catalog. Succulents are welcome in any home, as they use little water. The snake plant species is great for a bit of oxygen replenishment, too.
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