What an unflattering name for such striking tropical foliage! The pointed and strap-shaped evergreen leaves of mother-in-law’s tongue, Sansevieria trifasciata, stand vertically, about two or three feet tall. They are rather rigid, and seem to be plastic with a glossy finish. Almost all modern varieties are variegated with silvery gray, white, cream or yellow stripes or banding. Dwarf varieties stay shorter, with flared foliage.
Because it tolerates shade and neglect so well, mother-in-law’s tongue has always been a popular houseplant. It is sometimes grown in pots outside where it can be sheltered from frost or direct sunlight that might roast the foliage. Pups can be divided from overgrown old plants, but will develop shorter leaves until they recover from separation. Crowded plants might get green sports (unvariegated mutant shoots).