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Sansevieria trifasciata hahnii (Bird’s nest snake plant) care guide

Sansevieria Hahnii is a popular, compact cultivar of the well-known snake plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata). It has other common names like Bird’s nest snake plant, Dwarf mother in law’s tongue or Bird’s nest Sansevieria. This miniature succulent is only about 15-25 cm tall and has a stunning rosette shape. It also comes in varieties with interesting variegation and silver green color. The small height makes it ideal for indoor areas of your home or office. Read on to learn how you can grow and care for the Sansevieria Hahnii plants.

Bird’s nest is a stemless cultivar with garden origin. It was discovered in 1939 by William W. Smith, Jr. in the Crescent Nursery Company, Louisiana. The mother plant or natural species is native to tropical West African regions. This cultivar received a patent which was granted to Sylvan Hahn, hence the name “Hahnii”. Like most Sansevieria species, Hahnii is very hardy and easy to grow.

Plant appearance and growth

The bird’s nest snake plant never grows over a foot (30 cm) tall. It grows in tight rosettes with flat green leaves that have very distinct light green mottled horizontal bands. Depending on the type, the plant may have different leaf patterns. However, the spirally arranged leaves in a vase-like rosette shape is common in all Hahnii varieties. This species can bloom in summer producing sweetly fragrant greenish white flowers, but this cultivar rarely seems to do so. Even healthy plants growing in optimal conditions may be stubborn and not produce flowers.

Easy to cultivate, the Dwarf Sansevieria plant grows pretty fast and spreads on the ground. If grown outside in full sun, it can reproduce rapidly by the help of underground rhizomes, and spread everywhere forming dense stands. This is a good houseplant like all snake plants. Sansevieria Hahnii needs almost the same care as the standard snake plant. However, it is more prone to suddenly rotting especially if water is accumulated on the leaves or the plant is exposed to excessive cold.

Benefits and uses

  • You can grow Sansevieria Hahnii outside as a ground-cover and for edging. It is a drought resistant species, so it’s suitable for xeriscaping.
  • It also makes a great ornamental plant when grown indoors as a houseplant. Due to its small size, you can grow this plant in small pots, dish gardens as a tabletop plant. It looks great with other small sized succulents.
  • The Bird’s Nest is also effective in removing formaldehyde from indoor spaces. Most Sansevieria plants can filter airborne toxins and produce oxygen at night.
  • Another great benefit of Sansevieria Hahnii is that it’s very easy to cultivate. It makes a wonderful pot plant that needs little care.
sansevieria golden hahnii

Soil

Like most Sansevierias, Hahnii snake plants are susceptible to root rot when water stands around the rhizomes and root structure for too long. So, drainage capacity should be an important factor in the soil you choose. A sandy, coarse and fast-draining soil works great for snake plants. Make sure to replace the soil every 2-3 years, as it can get compact and dense over time.

If you have some regular garden soil and some additives, you can make your own potting mix. Mix some pumice, perlite or gravel for increasing drainage. And include coir or peat to retain some moisture without making the potting mix too dense. Click here for more details on the best soil ingredients for snake plants. The standard potting mix designed for succulents and cacti also works great for Sansevieria Hahnii.

Container

Although they can spread rapidly when grown outdoors, Hahnii snake plants can be maintained in pots and planters. You can grow a singular plant in a small pot or multiple of them in bigger containers. Depending on your architectural style, you can choose terracotta, ceramic, plastic, wood or any material. They’ll also look amazing in hanging pots as well.

Glass pots suit smaller plants really well. But, most of them don’t come with drainage holes. For any Sansevieria, the most essential thing to look in a container is the drainage holes. If your pot doesn’t already have a drainage system, drill a couple of holes at the bottom. Also, make sure the pot you select is proportional to the plant size. If it’s too big, it can cause overwatering problem.

Light requirement

Bird’s nest plants grow best in moderate to bright, indirect light. But, they can also adapt to low light conditions and partial shade. Bright light seems to encourage growth and blooming. It can also enhance the foliage color. Moreover, the light doesn’t have to be the sunlight. This plant is able to grow in fluorescent lights too, which makes it a popular plant for office use.

When slowly acclimatized, Sansevieria Hahnii can even tolerate full sun. Just protect the plants from afternoon sunlight. Also avoid areas that are too dark as it can stunt the plant growth.

Watering schedule

Being a drought-tolerant plant, Sansevieria Hahnii doesn’t require frequent watering to stay healthy and thrive. Overwatering is a common problem which can cause root rot and kill the plant. Here are some tips to water the Bird’s nest plant:

  • Allow the soil to dry out before watering. Before you water, check the top layer (1-1.5 inches) of soil surface. Ensure that it’s not damp at all.
  • Be sure to keep the leaves dry when you water. Due to the rosette shape, water can stay in between the leaves, which can eventually cause fungal infection or rot.
  • Water slowly and deeply until it starts to drip from the drainage holes. Allow the excess water drain away freely. Empty the drainage saucer after about 30-40 minutes. Don’t let your plant sit in the collected water.
  • Generally, you can water once a week or every other week, depending on the climate and surrounding conditions of the plant. For instance, plants kept in shade require less water than those in bright light. If you live in a colder region, your plant may need even less water.
  • Lower the frequency of watering to once a month when the winter starts.

Check out this post for more tips on watering snake plants.

small snake plant

Temperature

Your Sansevieria Hahnii will be happy anywhere from 60-85° F (15-29° C). It can also tolerate as low as 10° C (50° F) for short periods. Take special care during winters and fall when the temperature starts to drop. It is a very drought tolerant plant, but not as cold hardy as some houseplants. Avoid any frost in the winters. Depending on your climate, it may need extra heat and warm air.

Fertilizer

Sansevieria Hahnii are low maintenance plants and do not require a lot of supplementary feeding. Apply a weak dose of general-purpose feed during the growing season. You can also use organic fertilizers if you wish. But remember that this plant is sensitive to over fertilizing so use them sparingly.

Spring and summer are good seasons to fertilize your plant as they grow more in warmer months. Use a half strength (20-20-20) diluted fertilizer and do not apply it more than once a month. Avoid feeding your plants in winter. Here’s a fertilizer guide for more information.

Pests and diseases

Fortunately, this Hahnii snake plant is typically free from serious disease and pest problems. Because of their hardy nature and strong succulent leaves, snake plants don’t easily get sick. If any pest would bother your Sansevieria Hahnii, it will most probably be either mealybugs or spider mites. And these pests can easily be controlled. Check this post to know how you can save your snake plant from common insects and fungal problems.

Overwatering and low temperature seems to be the most common enemies of the Bird’s nest plant. Because of the rosette shape they are very prone to rotting when they are watered on the leaves. Especially, water staying on the inner young leaves results in mushy leaves and fungal infestations. The plant may be susceptible to scarring on the leaves if placed in freezing temperatures for too long. Look for signs such as soft, drooping or yellowing leaves to spot any disease early on.

Repotting

Your Sansevieria Hahnii won’t need frequent repotting as it doesn’t grow after reaching a certain height. Transplant only when the plant is pot-bound or if you want to replace the soil. It’s a good idea to replace your soil every 2-3 years to make sure it drains water freely. Even though you can repot your plant any time of the year, spring and early summer are good times to do that. Here are some basic steps for repotting your bird’s nest snake plant:

  • Make sure to get a pot with an appropriate size or reuse the same pot. You won’t need a huge pot for this plant. Wash the pot thoroughly if you are reusing it.
  • Add a layer of rocks or pebbles at the bottom to cover the drainage holes. Then put a layer of soil over that.
  • Carefully remove your plant from its old pot and shake off old, sticky soil from the roots. Place the root ball in a new pot. Then fill the rest of the container with the potting mix.
  • Plant it at the same height as before. Don’t bury the leaves in the soil mix. And let the soil level be at least 1 inch below the rim of the pot.
  • Finally, water the plant thoroughly and let the water drain off.

Click here for an in-depth guide on repotting your snake plant.

Grooming and Maintenance

Like most snake plants, Sansevieria Hahnii is known to be pretty low-maintenance. It thrives when left on its own but this doesn’t mean you should completely ignore it. You might want to remove the damaged leaves. Some leaves will naturally die over the period of time, and those need to be trimmed as well.

Apart from pruning the leaves once in a while, there is nothing much maintenance to do. But if your plant has overgrown its container, you can divide it from the roots and make new plants.

Propagation

In general Sansevieria Hahnii plants are best propagated by division as they have a strong rhizome and root structure. Another popular method for propagation is to use leaf cuttings. However, it takes up to 3 months to develop strong enough roots on the leaf cuttings. As Hahnii plants can spread rapidly through their rhizomes, dividing the plant from its root ball seems to be an easy, quick and reliable method. Here’s how you can do this:

  • For diving the roots, you’ll need a sizable mature plant that has well established roots and multiple leaf sections.
  • Sansevieria Hahnii forms vase-shaped rosettes. If your plant has multiple rosettes, it’s easy to identify how to divide the roots. Just separate the sections with one rosette in each.
  • Then repot each section in a new container. Make sure to use a pot with drainage holes and a gritty soil mix that drains fast.
  • Then, deeply water your plants, discard the drained water and let them adjust in their new home.

If your plant is not big enough or has a single rosette, you can wait for it to form new pups or try propagation using leaf cuttings. Note that variegated cultivars offspring will lack variegation if rooted from leaves.

Pets and kids safety

Bird’s nest snake plants are poisonous if chewed or eaten. They are mildly toxic to humans and animals and affect their gastrointestinal system. So it’s better to keep them away from your children and pets.

Upon ingestion, the toxins in this plant can cause oral and throat irritations. It may also make the tongue and throat swell. Nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting are possible symptoms if consumed in large quantities. Touching the plant juice can also cause skin rashes, so use protective gloves while trimming the plant.

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