plant person

I Wish I Were My Snake Plant

A small sansevieria trifasciata. Photo: Daniela Duncan/Getty Images

I came across a tweet from the Strategist the other day that led me to quickly spend a bunch of money on plants. (Since I started working at the Cut, my exposure to the Strategist has undone my self-image as a minimalist.) The tweet linked to a post about how Amazon has been selling plants, and about how some of those plants were now on sale, and before I’d finished the entire story, I’d one-click ordered first a rubber plant and then a snake plant.

The snake plant in particular had been calling (hissing?) to me since the first time I’d been poked by one, having mistakenly thought it would bend when grazed. I remember thinking, Jesus Christ, this is a PLANT? Then I learned that it was called not just “snake plant” but also “mother-in-law’s tongue,” for its spearlike sharpness. (Beyond that, it’s also called the viper’s bowstring hemp, for the fibers in its leaves. Its Latin name is sansevieria trifasciata, and it’s native to tropical West Africa, although it can apparently survive as a houseplant pretty much anywhere.)

I’d ordered my snake plant in part because I admired its grit — but also because it purifies the air (releasing oxygen at night) and “tolerates neglect extremely well,” which seems like another aspirational quality. To need less external validation, to have a rich inner life. The snake plant also doesn’t require much water or light, and the one watering I gave mine yesterday could potentially last it all season (during winter, a snake plant “needs only one watering every couple of months,” according to one guide). Maybe someday it will even produce flowers and berries.

Anyway, my snake plant seems young, and it (she?) is slightly softer and more pliant than I expect her to become. Maybe the two of us can grow and harden together.

I also Googled “snake plant costume,” and was amused by the only one out there so far. As the artist asks, “Why not embody [it]?”

I Wish I Were My Snake Plant