Information about Mother-in-Laws Tongue

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Lawn & Garden

Mother-in-law’s tongue is a house plant with green and white or yellow marbled leaves, which can be toxic if ingested. Its sap can cause a loss of speech, hence the name dumb cane.

The plant has a thick, green stem and oval to lance-shaped leaves that are lightly to heavily marbled in white or yellow. The greenish flowers are not very interesting.

If the dumb cane becomes too tall, cut the stem into three-inch sections and lay them sideways in a potting mix. They will produce new plants quickly.

Quick Facts about Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

  • Scientific Name: Dieffenbachia sp.
  • Common Names: Dumb Cane, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
  • Light Requirement: Bright Light to Light Shade
  • Water Requirement: Drench, Let Dry
  • Humidity: Average Home
  • Temperature: House
  • Fertilizer: Balanced
  • Potting Mix: All-Purpose
  • Propagation: Air Layering, Stem Cuttings
  • Decorative Use: Floor, Table
  • Care Rating: Very Easy

Lots More Information

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About the Author

Larry Hodgson is a full-time garden writer from Quebec City who grows over 3,000 species and varieties. He has written several books, including Making the Most of Shade, The Garden Lovers Guide to Canada, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, Houseplants for Dummies, and Ortho’s Complete Guide to Houseplants, among others.


1. What is Mother-in-Law’s Tongue?

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, also known as Snake Plant or Sansevieria, is a popular indoor plant that is native to Africa and Asia. It is characterized by its long, upright leaves that are green with yellow edges, and it can grow up to several feet tall. The plant is known for its air-purifying properties and its ability to thrive in low light conditions, making it a popular choice for home and office decor.

2. How do you care for Mother-in-Law’s Tongue?

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for. It prefers well-draining soil and indirect sunlight, but can also tolerate low light conditions. Water the plant sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can cause root rot, so it is important to not let the soil become too wet. Fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is also tolerant of neglect and can withstand periods of drought.

3. Is Mother-in-Law’s Tongue toxic?

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is considered a mildly toxic plant if ingested. The plant contains saponins, which can cause gastrointestinal upset if consumed in large quantities. It is important to keep the plant out of reach of children and pets, and to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the plant.

4. Can Mother-in-Law’s Tongue be propagated?

Yes, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue can be propagated through division or leaf cuttings. To propagate through division, remove the plant from its pot and gently separate the roots into smaller sections. Plant each section in a separate pot with fresh soil. To propagate through leaf cuttings, cut a leaf into several pieces and plant them in a pot with well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and the cuttings should begin to root and grow into new plants.

5. What are the benefits of having Mother-in-Law’s Tongue in your home?

Aside from its air-purifying properties, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is also known for its ability to release oxygen at night, making it a great plant to have in your bedroom. The plant is also low-maintenance and can withstand neglect, making it a great choice for busy individuals. Additionally, the plant’s unique shape and color make it a popular choice for home decor.

6. What are some common problems with Mother-in-Law’s Tongue?

Overwatering is a common problem with Mother-in-Law’s Tongue that can cause root rot and yellowing of the leaves. Insects such as spider mites and mealybugs can also infest the plant, causing damage to the leaves. To prevent these problems, make sure to water the plant sparingly and inspect the leaves regularly for signs of infestation.

7. Can Mother-in-Law’s Tongue be grown outdoors?

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue can be grown outdoors in warm climates with well-draining soil and partial shade. However, the plant is sensitive to frost and should be brought inside during colder months. It is important to note that the plant can become invasive if left unchecked, so it is recommended to grow it in a container rather than planting it directly in the ground.

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