Sansevieria masoniana: The Whale Fin Snake Plant

Sansevieria masoniana

Last updated on July 12th, 2022 at 06:30 am

Sansevieria masoniana, also known as the whale fin snake plant, whale tail plant, congo sansevieria, whale fin sansevieria, or just whale tail plant, is an attractive and easy-to-care-for houseplant you can grow in indoor environments year-round.

Another common name for Sansevieria masoniana is the whale fin snake plant, since it looks like the tail of an ocean creature when viewed from above. What most people don’t know about this particular type of sansevieria, however, is that it has some unique qualities that make it an attractive plant to own.

Featuring vibrant green leaves and tall stalks, Sansevieria masoniana, otherwise known as the whale fin snake plant, has an unmistakable appearance. This hardy succulent makes an excellent addition to your home’s décor and requires very little maintenance to thrive in most indoor environments.

Read on to learn more about the sansevieria masoniana and why you should consider adding it to your indoor garden!

Origin and distribution

Sansevieria masoniana

Sansevieria masoniana originated in West Africa (Congo republic) and is now widely cultivated. It is an especially attractive houseplant because of its long, straplike leaves; it’s sometimes referred to as snake plant or cobra lily.

While commonly sold as a potted plant, Sansevieria masoniana can also be found growing outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 through 12. There are many cultivars of Sansevieria masoniana that have been selected for different leaf colors and patterns.

Sansevieria masoniana is one such cultivar that has light green leaves with black markings on them. This variety was named after John Hahn, who first brought it into cultivation in England around 1845. It produces yellow flowers and can grow to a height of 12 inches (30 cm).

It is also commonly known as Congo snake plant. Its leaves are straplike and measure up to 3 feet (90 cm) long. Because of its long, narrow shape, it is often referred to as whale fin sansevieria or whale tail plant.

Why sansevieria masoniana?

Like many succulents, Sansevierias make excellent houseplants because they require little maintenance and tolerate low light levels. In fact, you may find yourself watering your plant less often than other succulents since they store water in their fleshy leaves—making them an excellent choice if you forget to water your plants frequently!

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Sansevieria masoniana propagation

Sansevieria masoniana

To propagate a Sansevieria masoniana, you can simply cut off a small segment and replant it. The easiest way to do so is to slice off a piece of rhizome with two leaves at each end and replant it right away. However, you should let it sit for several days to dry out before planting so that any bacteria present in its tissue will die off.

If you have a larger plant, you can also dig up some soil around its base and remove as much of the rhizome as possible; just be sure not to damage or remove any of its leaves. You can then repot your new plant into fresh soil once it’s had time to dry out (or add potting mix directly onto your existing plant). Keep in mind that these plants are usually slow-growing, so don’t expect them to sprout roots overnight!

Sansevieria masoniana care information

Sansevieria masoniana

Sansevieria masoniana plants require very little attention, which is great for busy people who may not have time to tend to a plant. Sansevierias are also perfect for those who suffer from allergies or sensitivity to indoor plants. They do well in low-light conditions and on windowsills where other plants might not survive. Some even say that sansevierias grow better in dark rooms than they do in well-lit ones!

Light requirement

Sansevieria masoniana prefers low light levels but will grow in brighter settings with no harm. Note that snake plants are very good at purifying your air. If you are concerned about harmful gasses in your home, place a sansevieria near where you spend most of your time. This plant is so effective at removing toxins from your air that NASA has studied it to learn how to remove toxins from spacecraft! So if you have a choice between bright and dark, choose bright. But if not, don’t worry; your plant will be just fine in low light conditions.

Soil/potting mix

Soil for a Sansevieria masoniana needs to be loose and well-draining. It should not remain soggy for long periods of time, so avoid soil that retains moisture (even if it says fast draining). Soil mixed with equal parts of sand is also suitable. In addition, it is recommended to supplement your potting mix with perlite or vermiculite – which helps aerate and retain moisture in soils. Sansevierias will grow fine in regular potting soil, but they prefer a more porous blend.

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Sansevieria masoniana is an easy plant to grow indoors and outdoors as long as you have bright light and don’t overwater it. Too much water can cause root rot, which can kill your plant quickly. Sansevierias are also poisonous when eaten by pets or humans so keep them out of reach!

Watering

The most common question asked about sansevierias is how to keep them alive. By far, over-watering is the leading cause of plant death. Keep your snake plant on light soil, and be sure to use an under-pot saucer or tray so that water drains out of it quickly when you’re watering.

You want to provide just enough water for your snake plant to remain healthy but not so much that its leaves begin drooping or turning yellow or black spots start developing on them. If your plant does show signs of overwatering, cut back on watering until it recovers. If you still can’t figure out what went wrong with your snake plant, contact a professional at a local garden center for advice.

Fertilizer

While different types of sansevieria have varying water and lighting needs, they all benefit from balanced, slow-release plant food. Feed your plant once every two weeks during spring and summer, and once a month in fall and winter. Look for an organic fertilizer with a ratio of 5-10-5 or 10-10-10. When using chemical fertilizers, avoid high ammonium nitrogen at all costs; it can burn your plant’s leaves.

Temperature

Sansevieria masoniana is a temperature-sensitive houseplant, meaning it requires warmer temperatures to stay healthy. During winter, place your plant near a heat source (such as a heater or fireplace) to encourage new growth. When temperatures rise in spring and summer, move it away from these heat sources so that it doesn’t get too hot—the optimal temperature range for Sansevieria is between 68 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity

Sansevieria masoniana requires more moisture than most other sansevierias and a humidifier may be required in your home. Be careful of overwatering, as too much water can cause root rot. Overwatering may also occur when you live in a hot climate or use a humidifier near your Sansevieria.

The ideal humidity range is 40-60% relative humidity. You can increase humidity by placing your Sansevieria in a room with a humidifier or by misting it with water twice daily.

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Pruning

At least once a year, you should trim off dead leaves or branches and cut back your Sansevieria by about one-third. During its dormancy period in winter, cut it back to within 2 inches of its soil line and stop fertilizing. Allow your plant to go completely dry, then water thoroughly until water drains out of its bottom (this is an important step; don’t rush watering it again).

After that, put it in a dark place at room temperature for six weeks without watering. This will give your plant time to grow new roots. Then resume normal care as described above. If you follow these steps, your Sansevieria will thrive for years!

When to repot

In general, it is good to repot your snake plant every year as it grows. However, because of its size and shape, it does not need to be repotted annually. In fact, for maximum health and vigor, you should only repot your snake plant once every two or three years. There are several signs that indicate when your snake plant needs to be repotted. First, if there are visible roots growing out of its drainage holes, then it’s time to pot up again.

Second, if your snake plant begins to lean or topple over in its container—even if there are no visible roots—then it’s time for a bigger pot. It can also help to remove some of its soil so you can get an idea of how big its root system has grown. If it fills more than half of your current pot, then it’s definitely time for a new one!

Dormancy

Sansevieria masoniana plants go dormant in low-light conditions. During dormancy, they will lose their leaves and/or stop growing altogether. Sansevierias begin to go dormant at around 18°C / 64°F, but they may become dormant as low as 12°C / 54°F.

Once your plant has gone dormant, it should not be watered or fed until new growth begins again. If you have a naturally short growing season where you live (e.g., if you live in an area that only gets warm enough for your sansevieria to grow during spring and summer), it’s a good idea to keep your plant indoors during winter so that it doesn’t go dormant too early.

Sansevieria masoniana flower & fragrance

Sansevieria masoniana

Sansevieria masoniana comes in several varieties. Among them are congo sansevieria (sansevieria cylindrica), whose flowers have a very light scent, and banding ivy sansevierias (sansevieria trifasciata variegata). These ivies are popular in homes due to their bands of leaves, which range from black to red-edged green. They have little fragrance but work well in offices that don’t allow candles.

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Growth rate

Sansevieria masoniana is a slow-growing plant. It produces one new leaf per year and takes approximately 10 years to mature fully. However, once it does, it will keep on growing for an indefinite amount of time as long as you keep up with its need for light and water. And in regards to light needs, Sansevieria isn’t fussy at all! In fact, it has been known to grow very well indoors with low levels of sunlight.

Toxicity

Many people believe that all Sansevierias are toxic to dogs and cats. Sansevieria masoniana is responsible for many pet deaths, so keep away out of reach of your children and pets.

USDA hardiness zones

Sansevieria masoniana thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12. In areas with colder winters, it can be grown as an annual or brought indoors and kept as a houseplant. In warmer climates, it can be grown outdoors year-round.

Pests and diseases

If you’re concerned about pests, then you probably won’t be too thrilled to learn that snake plants can be prone to aphids and mealybugs. These can cause brown spots on leaves—but they’re usually easy to kill off with a dose of insecticidal soap.

As long as your plant is in an area where it isn’t exposed to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, it shouldn’t have any problems. Sansevierias are also susceptible to rot if their soil becomes too wet; if possible, use only room-temperature water when watering your plant.

Conclusion

Although a bit alarming to look at, whale fin sansevieria is actually a very common plant that’s easy to care for. It can be used as an accent piece or in a more interior spot in your home. It does well inside when it has adequate light and water and will even reward you with a flower if cared for properly. No matter what room it ends up in, sansevieria masoniana is sure to impress all of your guests with its spectacular foliage.

Sansevieria masoniana is a great houseplant for people who get bored with their plants, as it tends to look pretty much identical from month to month.