This regal plant is like a kingdom. A crown of thorns. A dinosaur crest. Giant fingers. Do you follow?
How else to describe my newly acquired starfish snake plant or more properly known as a Sansevieria Cylindrica plant?
Starfish snake plants have unique fan-shaped light-green foliage with dark-green concentric circles top to bottom. The plant can also bear small flower spikes arising from the base of the spears.
Its stiff, tubular leaves emerge from the basal rosette and can grow to a maximum length of about 10 inches. Growth is near vertical without branching.
Boasting silvery green foliage, this compact, low-light and drought tolerate plant will be the center of attention at your next party. If there are anymore parties with all this social distancing going on!
So if your work desk needs a plant pick-me-up and you're so over the lucky bamboo, look no further than the starfish snake plant to sizzle your space!
Here's some fun facts and trivia you'll want to share!
Easy tips to care for the starfish snake plant
Generally, it's considered a houseplant. I can't imagine taking mine outside.
But starfish snake plants can be moved outdoors during the summer months and into part-sun. They just must be transitioned to handle higher levels of light and heat first and this change must be slow and gradual.
Indoors or outside, the starfish snake plant would prefer to stay above 50 F (10 C). Protect it from cool temps and drafts.
What I appreciate most about the starfish snake plant is that it can be acclimated to deep shade or bright light. As flexible as your middle child!
And also like the middle child, thrives on neglect. Forget to water? No issue. Being root bound is no problem, either.
Overall, I find watering every other week to be sufficient. Sometimes three weeks pass before I remember to water the starfish snake plant and it's always fine.
If you choose to fertilize, feed the starfish snake plant once every three weeks with a general all-purpose houseplant food diluted by half. Do this from April to the end of September.
Jack's Classic Indoor Plant food works well as a powder, a quick release fertilizer that is mixed with water to provide nutrients to a plant that has been in a container for an extended time.
Another option is Osmocote Indoor/Outdoor granular, slow release fertilizer that can be applied while potting and planting.
Starfish snake plant fast facts!
Let there be light!
So snake plants are often the welcoming committee in a windowless office building atrium where the plant may have little or no natural light.
In fact, fluorescent light may be the only light they ever receive. Crazy that plants with this type of stamina can thrive with no natural light whatsoever!
Not that they complain getting bright, dappled light. Sheltered behind a curtain getting some dappled sunlight is ideal. And a little morning sun is never a problem. But extensive direct sunlight is bad.
Too much light, even artificial light could cause browning in your cherished plant.
Certainly, snake plants add that vertical element to any garden design we all crave, especially at the office. And the starfish snake plant relishes its role as a showstopper.
The problem is that they are very slow growing. Go too small, and you'll never see that huge plant you've envisioned.
A word on watering....
The starfish snake plant collects water in its leaves. Overwatering the plant will rot it down to its roots. So starfish snake plants that are watered too often will not survive.
The starfish snake plant likes to dry out almost completely between waterings. I poke my finger in the pot. If I feel any moisture at all, I wait another week to water.
If you are unsure whether to water or not, the less risky move is to not water at all.
Snake plants can go weeks before being watered again. In the winter you'll water less, in the summer you'll water more.
Never allow a snake plant to stay or sit in water because that will cause root rot. Their pots must be well-drained. A saucer with no drainage holes underneath is bad.
Now for the tricky part. When you water do so thoroughly to make sure all the roots, including the sprawling ones at the bottom of the pot receive adequate water.
Frequent watering but with small amounts of water is bad. The result of these less than full waterings will be dead roots at the bottom of the pot, leaving short roots above.
Water fully, let the starfish snake plant dry out completely, then water again. Usually, this means watering every other week.
I also line the bottom of my pots with a coarse orchid bark to increase drainage. I mix perlite in both the succulent potting mix and the orchid bark for even better drainage.
So the bottom half of my pot is orchid bark and the top a sandy succulent mix for a 50/50 mix.
If you are using indoors pots with no drainage holes, then the orchid bark is absolutely essential.
To keep your starfish snake plant happy, it's a good idea to repot annually or at least every other year in spring with fresh succulent potting mix, orchid bark and perlite.
Keep in mind, starfish snake plants don't mind being root bound. Sansevieria grow via rhizomes, which you'll find crowds the pot. This is totally fine!
Some growers say (I think half in jest) to repot the snake plant when the pot breaks indicating those rhizomes have run out of room. But I wouldn't wait that long!
Propagating the starfish snake plant
If you sit back and relax, over time, you'll discover young “pups” or "starfish arms" will spring from the base of the mother plant and can be easily transplanted to propagate new plants.
But when I say "time" I mean it. This is a very slow-growing plant. Watching paint dry is quick in comparison. So you'll wait a bit for pups to emerge.
I was fortunate in that the plant I acquired already had three decent sized pups ready to be divided and planted in their own containers.
Each pup had two spiky leaves already and had sent out runners underground that needed to be divided.
All I had to do was take the mother plant out of the pots and gentle untangle the roots/runners.
Most important is to ensure each pups gets a good bit of root so it's ready to expand into the ground when transplanted.
You don't want a top-heavy plant with little or no root system as it decreases the chances of the pup surviving.
And that's not what you want. When your family and friends visit they are going to first ask you what this plant is and then they'll ask for a clipping.
Trust me...it happens!