I love houseplants.
In other people’s houses.
Myself, I’m terrible with them because I always seem to forget to water them. Plus, I hate dealing with the inevitable pests that houseplants attract.
Having said that, I’ve had a few plants sneak indoors in the last few years. Most of them are sansevierias, a genus I’m quite fascinated with. (Will somebody please write a good book about sansevierias?) What they lack in cold tolerance, they make up for in spades with the ability to survive in low light and go for weeks (some say months) without water. In addition, there’s evidence that sansevierias are great at removing toxins from the air.
Not everybody thinks their strappy leaves are attractive (I do), but consider this: Some of them produce the most amazing flowers. Case in point: Sansevieria kirkii var. pulchra. This is what we came home to from our recent trip to Victoria, British Columbia:
I got this particular plant from the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory last year because—well, I don’t even know why. I guess I liked the mottled green leaves edged in a thin strip of pink. I put it on a cedar chest in front of the big window in the upstairs loft where I sometimes overwinter plants. I didn’t even bother to repot it. It got water whenever I thought of it (i.e. not terribly regularly).
It is said that sansevierias only flower when they’re happy. Which this one clearly is. And the inflorescence is fascinating.
The individual flowers open up in the late afternoon (some references call this variety a night bloomer) and seem to last only a few days. There is no scent, but I’ve noticed drops of nectar at the ends of the recurving spent flowers.
Sansevieria kirkii var. pulchra, also called “star sansevieria,” is native to tropical East Africa (Arid Lands narrows it down to Tanzania). I wasn’t able to find a lot of authoritative information about it, but based on its native habitat, I doubt it would survive outdoors in temperatures below the mid-30s.
Here are a few more close-ups of the flowers. I had a hard time stopping.
Now I know what this sansevieria is capable of, it will get a prettier pot to live in when it’s done blooming.
Here are two other sansevierias that have been happy upstairs for a number of years, Sansevieria suffroticosa and Sansevieria cylindrica. Neither of them flowered this year, but they have produced several new leaves so they’re OK.
What do you think of sansevierias? Yay or nay?