Sansevieria ballyi, or dwarf sansevieria, is a perfect addition to your succulent garden or indoor houseplant collection. A close cousin to the classic mother in law’s tongue, it’s just as easy to care for…so let’s get started!
Quick Care Guide
|Common Name||Dwarf Sansevieria|
|Scientific Name||Sansevieria Ballyi|
|Height & Spread||6-10″ tall, 6-10″ side|
|Light||Filtered bright light|
|Soil||Average, well-drained, gritty|
|Pests & Diseases||spider mites and mealy bugs; root rot|
Native to southern Kenya and Tanzania like many Sansevierias, Sansevieria ballyi is also known by its common name of the dwarf snake plant. It was named after Dr. Peter R. O. Bally, who was a Swiss botanist working at the Coryndon Museum in Nairobi. He described and named many succulents growing in East Africa and is commemorated in the names of many species.
The leaves of Sansevieria ballyi are laterally compressed, cylindrical in shape and reaching a length of 2-4″ long and 1/4″ thick. The apex is red-brown in color composed of a spine grooved on the face. There are scale leaves on stolons and the base of rosettes.
Dwarf sansevieria is a flowering plant with pale greenish white flowers that are showy, reaching up to 1″ in length and clustered on a 6″ long raceme. Each cluster usually contains two flowers. The plant is not very tall, reaching up to a maximum height of about 10 inches.
Sansevieria Ballyi Care
Light & Temperature
It thrives in just about any light whether it’s bright light and full sun or low light to shady areas. It has good tolerance to low light levels, but for optimal growth, give it bright filtered light. Under low light conditions, leaves become darker green in color, etiolated, and longer and thinner than usual.
A good indoor spot for the dwarf snake plant would be in front of a north-facing window or in front of a a bright sunny window with a bit of protection against the brightest parts of the day. Extreme bright light will cause the leaves to turn yellow at the edges.
Sansevieria ballyi is theoretically hardy to 25°F (-4°C), but for normal growth, you need to protect it from freezing temperatures and also make sure they don’t receive winter rainfall. Warmer temperatures within the range of 60-75 °F(16-24 °C) are best.
Water & Humidity
Dwarf sansevieria is very drought tolerant and you only need to water then about once a week during the growing season. Allow the top 1 inch of the soil to be completely dry between individual waterings as overwatering will cause root rot. During winters, water just enough to prevent the soil from drying out entirely.
Make sure humidity is nice and low where you decide to place your plant. They don’t tolerate moist air well.
Like most other xerophytic plants, Sansevieria ballyi grows best in porous, well drained potting mix. Slightly acidic soil around pH 6.5 ensures ideal growth. You can use gravel, perlite and decomposed granite to add weight and improve drainage.
Sansevierias are light feeders. You can use a balanced fertilizer mixture to fertilize once a month during summer. Dilute it to half the strength as labeled on the container. There’s no need to fertilize during winter.
Sansevieria ballyi is a slow grower. You can repot your Sansevieria every 2-3 years into a container one size larger when the roots outgrow the pot. Fill the new container with commercial lightweight cactus mix. Remove the plant from the existing container when the soil is dry for ease of repotting.
Vegetative propagation by division or by leaf cutting are the best methods. Remove and root the plantlets produced at the end of each stolon.
When rooting the plantlets, it’s important that you do not remove it until it has developed stilt roots. This is because the plantlets grow a rosette of leaves before they begin the root growth, so patience is key.
Once the stilt roots have grown sufficiently long, you can cut the stolon at any point and pot the new plant in a slightly moist and porous soil. Make sure the cuttings are at least 1″ in length.
You don’t need to prune ever if you don’t want to. Remove any dead or damaged foliage as and when needed. Pruning can be done if you want a mature plant to look more heavy and bushy.
You will not experience any serious growing problems under normal conditions.
The most common issue with this plant is over watering as it is very quick to rot in wet soil. Overwatering the plant will attract mold and fungal growth and cause rotting of roots. It makes the roots turn brown and mushy. As it progresses, leaves also turn yellow, wilted and droop low. They later become mushy as well.
Don’t leave the dwarf snake plant outside when the temperature goes below 55 °F (13 °C) as it can cause cold damage to the plant resulting in scarred leaves.
In case of mealy bugs, take a cotton swab and dip it in rubbing alcohol and then wipe the leaves down with it. A systemic insecticide can get rid of this problem for good.
Follow the same routine of wiping with rubbing alcohol for a spider mite attack. But, if the infestation is bad you might need to cut off the infected sections of the plant.
Sansevieria ballyi does not get affected by diseases. They mostly suffer from fungal infections as a result of root rot. These can be treated using fungicides and making sure the soil is free-draining and not kept wet.
Q. How big does Sansevieria ballyi get?
A. It will get to about 6-10″ tall and 6-10″ wide, so quite a dwarf variety!