The sansevieria genus has tons of different succulent plants. Today we’ll be examining sansevieria ehrenbergii. Sometimes called blue sansevieria or sword sanseveria, it has long, blade-like leaves. A dwarf cultivar also exists, popularized as dwarf samurai.
The shape of this plant is unusual, with layers of leaves stacked one upon the next. It makes a beautiful centerpiece of a succulent garden. But don’t forget that it can be grown indoors as well. This air-purifying plant makes for an eye-dazzling houseplant too!
So let’s delve deep into the world of the sword sansevieria and find out all this lovely plant has to offer!
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Quick Care Guide
|Common Name(s):||Blue sansevieria, sword sansevieria, East African wild sisal|
|Scientific Name||Sansevieria ehrenbergii|
|Height & Spread:||Leaves up to 5′ long, dwarf cultivars much more compact|
|Light||Full sun, tolerates partial shade|
|Soil||Porous and well-draining, succulent mix preferred|
|Water:||Allow soil to dry before watering|
|Pests & Diseases:||Minimal pests, no significant diseases|
All About Sword Sansevieria
The fan shape of this succulent is beautiful. The long leaves curve slightly as they extend outward from the plant. A groove forms along the inner side of the leaf which can catch water and direct it towards the center of the plant.
Leaf development begins at the center of the plant. Each leaf forms atop the one beneath it, but goes the opposite direction. This layering effect is quite beautiful, creating a zig-zag pattern along the stem.
Full-sized blue sansevierias can have leaves up to 5 feet in length. These leaves are often aged and rotted down to produce fibers used for making string or cloth.
A dwarf cultivar called Samurai has much shorter leaves, but forms the same layers. This stubbier variation comes in either a pure green or variegated leaf coloration. Another variation, Banana, has a distinctive banana-like shape for its new leaf growth.
These plants produce flowers as well! While rare, the sansevieria ehrenbergii produces greyish-white or grey-green flowers. Occasionally they pick up a purplish tinge as well.
A native plant of Africa, it grows naturally from Libya south to Tanzania. One of its common names, oldupai, is a direct reference to the Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania.
Rhizomatic roots allow the plant to spread just under the soil’s surface. It produces offsets which can be divided and replanted as a new plant.
Sansevieria Ehrenbergii Care
Generally low-maintenance, these plants can survive despite neglectful conditions. Still, for the most symmetrical and stunning plants, there’s some goals to meet. The ideal growing conditions to create vigorous, healthy plants are detailed below.
Light & Temperature
Full sun is ideal for growing your sansevieria ehrenburgii. The sword sansevieria is a sun-loving plant! But if you are growing it indoors, provide as much light as you can. Opt for your sunniest windows, and make sure it gets at least 6-8 hours of sun per day.
Temperatures below 50 degrees can start causing cold damage to your plant. While it can survive down to a light frost, you’ll notice some leaf blade damage. Soft spots, sunken parts of the blade, or edge browning may occur. Its preferred temperature is in the 60-85 degree range.
Water & Humidity
Like most succulents, blue sansevieria stores water in its leaves. It’s best to water deeply but infrequently.
Potted ones, like dwarf samurai or younger plants, should be watered a specific way. When the soil has become dry, water deeply until excess moisture is flowing from the pot. Allow it to drain off excess, then do one more shallow watering and leave it be. Don’t water again until the soil has dried again.
For in-ground plants, it’s a similar method, but check the soil at least a few inches down. Water once it has dried, but deeply, soaking the soil to at least 6″ below the surface.
In the winter months, you’ll be able to decrease your watering significantly. Don’t allow your plant to sit in soggy soil or pooled water, as it can develop root rot.
Your plant likes a little extra humidity during the hottest weather. Place your pot over a pebble tray with water to increase the air humidity around your plant. Outdoor plants would enjoy a light misting in the early morning to raise the humidity.
A porous and well-draining potting mix is ideal for your sword sansevieria. Opt for a mix optimized for succulents whenever possible. These gritty mixes are quick to drain off excess moisture and yet sturdy enough to support the plant.
If you don’t have access to a commercial mix, use a blend of equal parts of sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand.
During the active growing season in spring and summer, fertilize monthly. Use a liquid succulent fertilizer, diluted to half-strength. Replace one of your waterings with the fertilizing session.
Usually you can reduce the frequency in the fall. Skip fertilizing in the winter months.
Repotting is infrequent, as blue sansevieria is a slow grower. There are two times to repot: when it’s becoming rootbound, and when it’s causing the pot to lean.
As the larger sword sansavierias develop their long leaves, they can become unwieldy. Make sure you opt for a wide pot which can support the plant’s long blades. Dwarf samurai sansavieria is often much easier, and rarely needs to be repotted.
When there are too many roots in the pot, it’s time to divide your plants. Let’s talk about that in more detail.
There’s a few way to propagate this plant species. Sanseviera ehrenbergii forms offsets occasionally which can be replanted. But it can also be propagated by division or leaf cuttings.
Like most plants with rhizomatic roots, dividing the roots is relatively simple. Remove your plant from its pot, or carefully loosen the soil around it in the bed until you can lift it free. Dust excess soil from the roots. Separate the plant into clumps, each with its own fan of leaves and tangle of roots. Plant each clump separately.
From leaf cuttings, treat as you would most succulent cuttings. Select a healthy leaf tip and use a sterile pair of snips to cut it cleanly. Allow the cut end to scab over, which may take a few days. This drying process helps to prevent the cutting from rotting when in the soil. Place into a succulent potting mix, about an inch deep, and keep the soil just barely moist until it sets root.
The offsets which may appear near the parent plant are easy to separate and replant. These have limited root systems, so you’ll need to allow them to form more complete roots like a cutting.
Pruning is seldom necessary for this plant. Most pruning is to remove unhealthy portions of leaves or to remove flower stems.
While sansevieria ehrenbergii flowers very seldomly, it does occasionally bloom. When it does, it shoots up a long stem upon which the flowers grow in clusters. These stems should be removed as close to the base of the plant as possible once the flowers die back.
For newer gardeners, sansevieria ehrenbergii is a godsend. This easy grower is going to encounter very few problems!
Under most conditions, growing problems are rare. What ones arise usually do because of excess watering, cold temps or poor lighting.
Keep your plants above 50 °F to avoid cold damage to the leaves. These tropicals are not cold-hardy at all and will rapidly degrade in the cold.
Excess watering creates conditions in which fungal root rots thrive. Make certain to only water when you have to. For this drought-tolerant plant, too little water is better than too much.
Your sword sansevieria loves full sun conditions. But be careful. Very intense sunlight paired with heat can cause some discoloration to the leaves. It generally isn’t harmful but may appear unsightly.
You won’t often face pest-related problems with Sansevieria ehrenbergii. In rare conditions, you may have a few mealybugs or some spider mite infestation.
For mealybugs, a cotton swab dipped into rubbing alcohol can be used to remove them from your plant.
Insecticidal soap is usually fine for spider mite attacks. Before applying it, test a leaf first to make sure that it doesn’t react negatively. If it does, opt for a different brand. Most non-pyrethrin insecticidal soaps work well.
Diseases are relatively unknown for sansevieria ehrenbergii. At worst, you may encounter fungal root rot from overwatering.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why are the leaves of my Dwarf Sansevieria yellowing?
A. The yellowing of the leaves is caused by prolonged exposure to direct intense sunlight. Provide a little afternoon shade during the heat of the day to ease the sun’s intensity.
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