By Amelia Pilsch
A while back, in dog years, I was shopping with three close friends and stepped into an upscale furniture store. There, featured prominently in many of the furniture groupings, was a plant, the Sansevieria trifasciata or as it is more commonly known, Mother-in-law’s tongue.
My friends, both wonderful mother-in-laws, had many negative comments to make about one of my favorite plants. “I hate that metaphor,” “I don’t even like what it implies,” and, “I would not have that plant in my house” were accompanied by grimaces and head shaking. Does everyone associate a malicious tongue with mother-in-laws? I held mine.
I love my Sansevieria, it's a beautiful name for a plant, and I should have defended it right then. I appreciate its architectural appearance in home décor. It grows vertically, long and straight, adding height to any space calling for something tall. The leaves look like swords, the color is a rich, deep green, sometimes with variations of lighter green or yellow bands. When it blooms, it is amazing!
This plant is one of the most low maintenance plants that I have ever owned. It will thrive in low light or steamy, humid conditions. It will survive infrequent watering and, during our winter, it needs only one watering. My plant will probably outlive me.
The Sansevieria is also rated one of the top plants for improving air quality in the home. Specifically, it filters out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products such as toilet paper, tissue and other personal care products. Put one in your bathroom.
Very soon, I will become a mother-in-law to a wonderful young woman, which is what reminded me about that shopping trip with my friends in the first place. This new stage of my life really has nothing to do with plants except in the nature of the relationship that I hope to have with my daughter-in-law. I hope that she will view me as low maintenance. I will try my best. I hope my presence in her home will improve the quality of life for all who are there. I hope our relationship will bloom and be amazing.
In China, the Sansevieria trifasciata was kept as a treasured houseplant, because the Eight Gods bestowed their virtues on those who grew them. These virtues include long life, prosperity, intelligence, beauty, art, poetry, health and strength. It is also known to create positive energy and helpful feng shui.
So, I will continue to nurture my Mother-in-law's tongue, though it will be called a Sansevieria in my house, because it is beautiful and unique, and it has done well for me. Perhaps it will become a symbolic reminder to "bite my tongue" and work on this new relationship that has blessed me. I want to get it right.
Amelia Pilsch is a member of the Tuscaloosa County Master Gardeners and a soon-to-be mother-in-law.
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