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My name's Chuck, and I'm a plant.

Chuck

Bamboo tells me I'm a Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii, also known as "Mother in Law's Tongue" or "Snake Plant" (see other question here).

I live indoor with my human flatmate.

I think I may have some health trouble.

The ends of my leaves are turning brown, and so does the whole leaf on occasion (there's one in the picture).

I also noticed my roots are kind of sticking out of the pot a bit...

I am exposed to only electrical light, and average apartment temperature.

There's no way for me to go play outside, as it's freezing and raining all the time out there.

Questions

  • Is the human not giving me enough water, or maybe too much?
  • Should he move me to a larger pot or am I ok as is?
  • Are my looks ok, considering I'm indoors all the time?
  • When one of my leaves turns entirely brown, should the human cut it out or just leave it there?
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    Your question has been very much fun, Mena. The tips of your plant turning brown is also a symptom of high salts in your soil. Primarily the use of tap water or city water with chlorine and fluoride. This can definitely cause browning at the tips and margins. I'd use bottled water when watering. – stormy Mar 4 '17 at 5:53
  • Thanks @stormy, I already water Chuck with bottled water, but I might try and change brands. – Mena Mar 4 '17 at 8:52
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    I bet you are an enormous hoot with friends and family!! Good job on the water, have you been watering with bottled water for long? Otherwise, the next reason would be too much fertilizer or what Bamboo is talking about as an inherent problem with this plant. Did you transplant this dude or has it always been in this pot planted...in my opinion a bit too low into the soil? I'd cut brown leaves off and cut the tips as well. Make two diagonal cuts to effect a normal pointy tip. I'd transplant CHUCK into a pot 2 inches larger in diameter, new potting soil. Just roots should be under soil... – stormy Mar 4 '17 at 18:28
  • @stormy :) yes since the very beginning. And no, I haven't tried transplanting anything etc. Way too nooby for that, but I'm going to make an effort soon - Chuck can count on me. Thanks for the additional tips! – Mena Mar 4 '17 at 21:45
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First, I missed off a bit of this particular one's proper name - it's Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii; the version without yellow stripes is just Sansevieria trifasciata.

My houseplant book says to only re-pot when the pot it's in starts to bulge - then you can either pot into something larger or divide the plant in two and pot the sections separately.

My book also says that sometimes, Sansevieria has a disorder which causes leaves to brown and die - the trouble begins at the tip of the leaf and works its way down, which might be what you're describing. The cause isn't known and there's no cure, although if a plant is overcrowded in its pot,that can be a cause of this problem.

Doesn't look as if yours is desperate for re-potting or division though - information here on how to deal with dead leaves and on re-potting/division - note that it says you can make leaf cuttings to start new plants, but be aware that propagating it in this way will produce an all green plant, without the yellow stripes you currently have.

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  • Chuck says thanks again (and so do I). Hopefully I'll keep him alive, or at least give him little, all-green chucklets to remember him by :) – Mena Mar 3 '17 at 19:21
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Watering - Snake plants like things on the drier side. I know it might pain you to leave Chuck alone for so long, but he should be watered like a succulent. Let the soil go dry a half inch down (at least) before watering. When you water, as soon as it's dripping out the bottom, you're done.

Roots - Chuck is fine being root bound. Repot every 1-2 years, and either upgrade his living space or prune his roots. For root pruning, watch a couple bonsai root pruning vids BC there's a good amount to learn and those techniques work for ant plant you're not trying to propagate.

Light - if you want Chuck to be happier, head to the hardware store and pick up a ballast ($8 or so, should have a clamp), an LED bulb 60w equivalent with color temp 5000K or 6500K (spotlight bulb is better but a little pricier), and an outlet timer. Set the bulb to 13-14 hours/day. Bulb can be a few feet from Chuck. Closer is better, but you want the light hitting Chuck all over. I'd set it so it's at a 60 degree angle, at a distance where it's hitting him from soil to tip, then rotate Chuck 90 degrees every 2 weeks.

When it comes time to repot him, use a terracotta pot and succulent/cactus soil. (I'd use coir with a lot of perlite and pine bark fines mixed in.)

For feeding, I recommend Osmocote plus at half strength. (Bearing in mind that it's directions say half strength for indoor plants - so Chuck would get 1/4 strength compared to an outdoor plant.)

Don't worry too much about the leaf tips. It's likely an effect of the combo of less light and altered watering schedule.

Remember - overwatering is the real killer.

If you just bought Chuck (which from his roots I suspect), repot him. He's been in there for a long time.

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