Sansevieria pinguicula is an incredible houseplant that can bring something entirely different to your plant collection. With its strong, stilt-like roots, the plant appears to be walking (albeit very slowly) across the soil.
Rare and coveted by houseplant enthusiasts, it’s a tricky plant to find, but if you do get your hands on it, you won’t be disappointed.
In this guide, our gardening pros will explain all you need to know to ensure your Sansevieria pinguicula stands tall and proud!
What Is Sansevieria Pinguicula?
Sansevieria pinguicula or Dracaena pinguicula is a small succulent native to the Bura area of Kenya. What makes this succulent really stand out are its unusual roots, which can elevate the leaf rosette more than an inch above the ground.
This makes the plant look like it’s walking on stilts, which is where its common name, the walking sansevieria, comes from.
Sansevieria pinguicula leaves are very similar to those of an agave plant. They have a triangular shape, with a waxy feel, blue-green color, hard, reddish edges, and a sharp spine at the tip. The epithet ‘pinguicula’ comes from the Latin word “pingus,” which means “fat,” and it describes the plant’s thick, fleshy leaves.
The walking sansevieria has a very slow growth rate and will only grow to a maximum size of 1 foot (30 cm) tall and wide. It is still rare in the houseplant trade, but if you do find one, you’ll be happy to know that it can live for several decades.
Sansevieria Pinguicula Varieties
Sansevieria pinguicula has several exciting cultivars, each of them rarer than the main plant. So if you’re looking to spice up your cactus collection, here are some interesting ones to keep an eye out for:
Variegated Sansevieria pinguicula: the rarest of them all, this cultivar has outstanding foliage, with thick stripes of cream, white or yellow variegation.
Sansevieria pinguicula ‘Long Leaf’: a variety that produces slightly longer and narrower leaves than the original.
Sansevieria pinguicula ‘Unicorn’: the leaves are similar to the classic pinguicula, but they are displayed in a fan-like shape rather than a rosette.
Sansevieria pinguicula ‘Dagger’: this cultivar has short, stubby, and pointy leaves that resemble a dagger.
Does Sansevieria Pinguicula Flower?
Yes. Sansevieria pinguicula is a flowering plant, yet it will rarely bloom in indoor cultivation. If you have one in your care, you’ll most likely have to wait at least 10 – 15 years before this takes place.
The plant will produce a long inflorescence with clusters of small, brown flowers. The blooms may not be the prettiest, but if your sansevieria does flower, make sure to take a photo of this once-in-a-lifetime event!
Sansevieria Pinguicula Care Guide
If caring for it sounds too easy to be true, let’s take a closer look at what you need for growing Sansevieria pinguicula.
The sansevieria succulent can grow in a wide range of light conditions. It can grow in partial shade, as well as direct sunlight. However, for healthy growth, we recommend keeping it in direct sun or making sure that it receives at least eight hours of light per day.
A windowsill with southern or south-western exposure would be perfect. In winter, we also encourage you to keep it under a grow light.
Although Sansevieria pinguicula is not too pretentious when it comes to light, low light conditions can change the look of the foliage. Shade or partial shade can cause the leaves to develop a thin, elongated shape, and change color to dark green.
Sansevieria pinguicula is a heat-loving succulent. This plant takes decades to reach maturity, but keeping the temperatures high will encourage faster growth.
The ideal temperature range is between 77 and 95 F (25 to 35 C), which is slightly higher than the average most homes fall under. As mentioned earlier, south-facing windows are ideal, providing it with a nice and toasty environment.
You can also grow Sansevieria pinguicula outdoors, in a cacti garden, or as part of a xeriscaping project. The hot climate of USDA zones 10 and 11 are close to what the plant is used to in its native range.
The walking sansevieria can also tolerate a mild frost but avoid keeping it outdoors in freezing temperatures for long periods.
Sansevieria pinguicula doesn’t need a lot of humidity to grow. This tough succulent will be happy in the average home humidity, so you don’t need to go the extra mile to give it a moisture boost.
Sansevieria pinguicula can put up with just about any growing conditions found in your home, but it’s very particular about water. This drought-resistant plant is deathly sensitive to overwatering, especially if you allow the soil to stay wet all the time.
On average, you can water it once every 10 to 14 days, but always check that the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil are completely dry to the touch before you do.
Be extra cautious when watering your Sansevieria pinguicula in winter. Low temperatures combined with damp soils will spell death for this plant. If you’re keeping it in a room that’s colder than 50 F (10 C), you can water it once a month, or maybe even less often.
When kept outdoors, this sansevieria has a better chance of surviving a mild frost if the soil is kept completely dry.
Like with all succulent plants, watering your Sansevieria pinguicula correctly relies not just on the amount of water you give it but also on the soil. If the plant sits in a thick, compacted potting mix, water and oxygen will fail to get to the roots properly.
The plant will struggle to absorb nutrients, the roots will suffer from anoxia, and pathogens building up in the soil will result in fatal root rot. So let’s take a closer look at how you can prevent that by discussing another key element to keeping your sansevieria healthy: soil.
Sansevieria pinguicula is a xerophyte. In its natural habitat, this species has adapted to growing in soils that drain very fast and are poor in nutrients. In indoor or garden cultivation, you must mimic the same type of substrate to keep the plant healthy.
The ideal soil mix for the walking sansevieria should be very well-draining, aerated, and with a coarse, chunky consistency. You can use cacti or even bonsai soil as a base for your potting mix.
We suggest combining those types of soil with equal parts perlite, coarse sand, and vermiculite. These inorganic amendments should make up half of your potting soil, and they will help provide the excellent drainage this plant needs.
Sansevieria pinguicula hardly needs any fertilizers. If you’ve repotted it recently, you don’t need to give it any fertilizers for at least a year, as the plant already has all access to all the nutrients it needs. Otherwise, you can give it a slow-release fertilizer once a year, preferably in spring. You can also use a cactus fertilizer diluted to half the strength, and again, only apply it once a year. When we said this plant doesn’t need much to grow, we weren’t joking.
You don’t need to worry about pruning Sansevieria pinguicula. This super-slow grower will take decades to reach its full size. If you want to give it a trim, we recommend doing it when you also plan to propagate it. We’ll take a closer look at how to do that in a bit.
Repotting Sansevieria Pinguicula
This succulent only needs to be repotted when it becomes rootbound. In some cases, you might have to wait at least 3-4 years before that happens.
The best time to repot Sansevieria pinguicula is in spring or summer, when the plant enters its growth stage. Move it to a container that’s one size larger to give the roots room to spread out.
We recommend using terracotta pots for your Sansevieria pinguicula. This will allow plenty of air circulation to the roots, wick excess moisture, and also provides a sturdy base for the plant if it becomes top-heavy.
Even though Sansevieria pinguicula doesn’t need frequent repotting, we still encourage you to check the soil regularly. Once a year, preferably in spring, gently lift the plant from the pot and inspect the roots for any signs of rot or damage.
You will also notice that, over time, the soil will become compacted. This can have a negative effect on drainage and aeration, and it’s worth changing it, especially if the plant has been sitting in the same potting mixture for more than three years.
Sansevieria Pinguicula Propagation Guide
The easiest methods for propagating Sansevieria pinguicula are through leaf cuttings and plant division. In theory, you can also propagate it through seeds.
However, Sansevieria pinguicula seeds are rare and difficult to germinate, and the plant will take a long time to grow and become established. This is why we recommend vegetative propagation instead, especially if you’re a beginner gardener. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
– Propagating Sansevieria Pinguicula Through Leaf Cuttings
- Use a sharp, sterilized blade and cut one or two of the larger leaves from the bottom of the plant.
- Keep the cuttings in a dry, airy spot for a few days until the bottom of the leaf develops a callus.
- Fill a small container with a very well-draining potting mix, and place the leaf in it, cut-side down.
- Water the soil lightly, and keep the pot in a well-lit room.
- The cutting should develop roots after four to six weeks.
– Propagating Sansevieria Pinguicula Through Plant Division
This method relies on cutting the stolons from the mother plant. It still requires a bit of patience until the mother plant has developed these runners, but overall it’s faster and easier than using leaf cuttings.
- Start by identifying the stolon. It should stick up above the soil and look like a thick, light green stem, with a small plant attached to it.
- Wait until this baby plant develops roots that are at least one inch long. If you cut the stolon when there are no roots, the young plant will die.
- Once the roots are long enough, use a sharp, sterilized blade to cut the stolon.
- Then, simply plant the baby sansevieria in a well-draining potting mix, water it lightly, and monitor it for the rest of the growing season.
Common Pests and Problems
Sansevieria pinguicula is a low-maintenance plant and very resistant to pests. However, it can be deathly sensitive to overwatering. If you notice that the leaves are turning soft and yellow, that could even indicate root rot.
We recommend planting it in a terracotta pot and a very well-draining soil mix and allowing the top two inches of the soil to completely dry out before watering it again.
Even though it’s called the walking sansevieria, this plant won’t walk out on you or die easily. And with the right care guide, you can be sure that you’ll enjoy it for the rest of your life. Let’s go over the basics one more time.
- Sansevieria pinguicula is a rare succulent plant native to Kenya, with thick, pointy leaves.
- It’s an extremely slow grower and can take several decades before it reaches its full size, at around 1 foot (30 cm).
- This plant doesn’t need much to be kept happy and can tolerate a wide range of temperature, humidity, and sunlight conditions.
- Virtually pest-free, the walking sansevieria is very sensitive to overwatering, so remember to plant it in a well-draining soil mix.
- Propagation takes a bit of time but is easily done using stem cuttings or dividing the stolons from the mother plant.
So arm yourself with patience, and get ready to watch this rare and unique plant grow for many decades to come.
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