Sansevieria kirkii, also known as the coppertone snake plant, Dracaena pethera, sansevieria coppertone, star sansevieria, or just kirkii plant, is one of the easiest houseplants to grow and maintain, making it an excellent choice for new or inexperienced indoor gardeners. This plant will thrive in just about any environment, and it requires very little care to continue thriving in your home decor.
The coppertone snake plant is one of the most recognizable houseplants around, which just goes to show how beautiful and easy it is to maintain. Its wide leaves are usually golden in color and extremely easy to care for, making it the perfect addition to any home or office space.
Sansevieria kirkii is an easy-care houseplant that can help improve the air quality of your home. It has a dark green foliage with dark red stems that create an amazing contrast in color and texture, which makes it an appealing choice for any décor style.
To learn more about the sansevieria kirkii and how to care for this unique specimen of the houseplant world, let’s get started.
Origin and distribution
Sansevieria kirkii, or Sansevieria coppertone as it is commonly known in the United States, originates from West Africa. This plant is widely distributed throughout tropical regions of Africa and is also found on some of its islands. There are also reports of naturalization in Madagascar and in Florida.
In addition to these areas, Sansevieria kirkii has been introduced into other parts of Asia including India and Pakistan. It is cultivated for commercial purposes mainly in Brazil, China, Taiwan, and Thailand. The plant can be grown outdoors in warm temperate climates. However, it requires protection during the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing point.
Sansevieria is a genus of about 70 species of flowering plants that belong to the Asparagaceae family. The genus was named after an 18th-century Italian botanist-physician Amedeo di Sanseverino by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. It is commonly known as mother-in-law’s tongue, devil’s tongue, and snake plant. In some parts of Asia, it is also referred to as bowstring hemp or shoestring hemp because its long, narrow leaves resemble strings used for making bows and shoes respectively.
Sansevieria kirkii propagation
Sansevieria kirkii grow best when they’re propagated in a specific manner. Before you can propagate coppertone snake plant, you need to ensure that your parent plant is healthy and has reached a state of maturity.
Star Sansevieria can be propagated by division, but you may have difficulty separating it from Dracaena Pethera. The best way to propagate both is by stem cuttings. Cut a 4-inch stem from a healthy plant and put it in water with a few drops of root stimulator for four weeks, during which time roots will form at each node.
As new growth starts to appear, remove any brown or yellow leaves until only green leaves remain. Then pot up your new plant and place it under bright light. It should grow rapidly.
The soil mix used to grow coppertone snake plants should contain good drainage material such as perlite or vermiculite, along with a loam-based potting mix. Plants grown in pots need repotting every two years; otherwise, they’ll become too large for their containers.
If you don’t want to bother repotting your star sansevieria, then it can be left in its container and moved outdoors during the summer months. However, if you do move it outdoors make sure that it is placed where it will receive at least five hours of direct sunlight each day.
Sansevieria kirkii care information
Though it might be tempting to overwater a Sansevieria, too much H2O can do more harm than good. Instead, water it when its soil feels dry, giving it only enough moisture to moisten its roots—just like you’d treat any other houseplant. Your plant will reward you with a lush green form. Keep your Sansevieria kirkii out of direct sunlight and away from heated sources such as radiators or vents.
Sansevieria kirkii plants prefer medium to low light; if you find that your plant is becoming yellow, move it further away from windows or other light sources. As with most types of plants, it’s best to avoid direct sunlight. If you want to grow a snake plant indoors, place it in an area where there isn’t a lot of foot traffic. This will help prevent accidental damage and keep your snake plant healthy for years to come.
As a general rule, Sansevieria kirkii does best when they’re not over-watered. When you first bring your plant home, start off by giving it as much water as it needs but no more than that.
Monitor how often and how much you’re watering your plant for about a week or two, then adjust accordingly; try not to let your potting mix dry out completely before watering again, though. If you see roots emerging from drainage holes in your pot, give them a little extra water—but don’t go overboard! Watering too frequently can cause root rot.
Sansevieria doesn’t need to be watered frequently because it has a high tolerance for dry soil. However, when you do water your plant, do so slowly and allow excess water to drain from its root system. Make sure that you never overwater your Sansevieria, as rotting can occur if too much moisture is present in its potting medium.
If your Sansevieria looks droopy or shriveled up, it is a sign that it needs more water in its soil. You can tell if your plant is thirsty by sticking your finger about an inch into its soil; if it feels moist, then no watering is needed. If it feels dry, then give it some water.
Fertilize with a weak liquid fertilizer about once a month during warm weather. Sprinkle it around, but not directly on your plant’s foliage. Don’t overdo it or you may burn your plant’s roots. If using slow-release pellets, just sprinkle them along with any other fertilizer in your potting soil mix when you repot or top-dress your plants every year.
Alternatively, you can give them a dose of fish emulsion every couple of months and skip watering for one week out of each month to reduce their need for nutrients.
Always keep your Sansevieria kirkii in pots that are two to three times larger than their current size so they don’t become root-bound and start to show signs of stress such as yellowing leaves or leaf drops. Pinch off new growth at least once a year after flowering has occurred to encourage branching and bushiness instead of upright growth.
Sansevieria kirkii plants thrive in warm and hot weather, making them ideal for growing indoors during cooler months. However, Dracaena pethera prefers temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Although they’re both indoor plants, you can keep coppertone snake plants outdoors during the summer months in places where their temperature will remain stable. Just bring it back inside if temperatures drop below 60 degrees or rise above 80 degrees.
Place your coppertone snake plant in a location that’s exposed to indirect sunlight for about 12 hours each day. The ideal temperature range is between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius. However, it can tolerate temperatures as low as 16 degrees Celsius if placed on a windowsill. It cannot handle long periods of direct sunlight and humidity levels should be kept between 40% and 60%. Remember to water your plant every 2 weeks. Be sure not to overwater.
To maintain a healthy Sansevieria kirkii, prune out brown leaves and yellowed leaves. You can also divide your snake plant if it becomes pot-bound. The best time to do so is during spring or summer; in winter, you run the risk of damaging it. First, remove as much soil from around its roots as possible without damaging them.
Then take a sharp knife and cut off as much of its stem as possible. If any part of its roots are exposed, wrap them in damp sphagnum moss before putting your plant back into its container—this will help keep it hydrated while it regrows new roots.
When to repot
If you have a snake plant, it’s time to repot it when its roots have outgrown their pot and poked out of the drainage holes. When properly repotted, sansevierias can grow pretty quickly, so don’t worry too much about exactly how often you should repot your particular plant.
But if you think your Sansevieria kirkii is getting a little large for its pot or is growing a bit too slowly, then give it a bigger pot. Be sure to use a pot with drain holes that are at least as big as those in your current container.
Also, make sure that there are no exposed roots when you put them into their new home—if there are, gently pull them through until they are completely covered by soil. Water thoroughly after repotting and place your plant in an area with bright but indirect light. Sansevieria doesn’t need very much direct sunlight to thrive; it will even tolerate some shade.
If a snake plant is unable to grow for an extended period of time, it will stop growing and produce new leaves. This dormancy can be caused by moving it to a location that does not get any light, which halts growth. It can also occur if you forget to water your plant! To revive a dormant plant, simply bring it back outside so that it is exposed to natural sunlight again or begin watering regularly.
Sansevieria kirkii has very low moisture requirements; in fact, overwatering is one of its biggest killers. Their roots are able to absorb moisture from its soil even when it doesn’t appear to have enough water. The best way to ensure proper hydration levels is to allow room for drainage in your potting mix and use a well-draining potting medium with plenty of holes in its bottom.
Sansevieria kirkii flowers & fragrance
Sansevieria are most often grown for their striking foliage, but they can also be grown for their flowers. They will flower on and off year-round with proper care, but plants do not bloom for long periods of time. The flowers last only 2–4 weeks.
When blooming, they have a mild orchid fragrance that is pleasant and relaxing to both humans and pets. The flowers grow from small bracts located between leaves just above them along the central stalk.
Sansevieria kirkii is one of those slow growers that will not grow much for several years. Many sites online will tell you that it does well in low light, but if you really want to maximize growth, be sure to give it medium-high levels of light, like an east-facing window. That being said, Sansevieria kirkii can tolerate a lot—including neglect and dry soil—so don’t get too crazy trying to optimize conditions.
The leaves of Sansevieria kirkii are considered toxic, especially for cats. The symptoms of poisoning include salivation, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. If your cat gets into a coppertone snake plant, call your vet immediately. However, there is little reason to be worried about toxicity because these plants have no smell or taste and are not highly appealing to cats.
USDA hardiness zones
Sansevieria kirkii thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. In these warmer climates, it will grow outdoors year-round. In cooler areas, it can be grown as a houseplant. It’s not fussy about soil conditions or light levels, but it does need to be watered regularly—the potting mix should never dry out completely. The plant will survive brief droughts without issue, but longer periods of drought can damage or kill it.
Pests and diseases
Sansevieria kirkii is a rather popular houseplant, but it’s important to keep in mind that it has some problems with pests and diseases. Coppertone snake plants are susceptible to spider mites, so be sure to thoroughly inspect your leaves for any small signs of them (tiny webs).
When you notice spider mites on your Sansevieria kirkii, take action immediately by spraying or wiping them off with water. If they aren’t removed quickly enough, they can cause yellowing and browning of leaves as well as leaf drops. If you have pets or small children who like to touch things, make sure they don’t come into contact with your coppertone snake plant; if they get its sap on their skin, they could develop rashes.
Sansevieria kirkii has so many qualities that make it an amazing indoor plant; it’s great as a decorative houseplant and is also very easy to care for. If you have a dull room, try adding some Sansevieria to liven things up! You can also use these plants as centerpieces or put them in planters on your deck, patio, or balcony. They would look lovely and would definitely add character to any outdoor space.