Whale Fin Snake Plant – Beginners Care Guide
Make a splash in your home with the Whale Fin Snake Plant (Sansevieria Masoniana). This popular variety of snake plants is an eye-catching addition to any indoor plant collection. Usually grown with a solitary leaf in one pot, the Masoniana looks like a whale’s fin splashing out of the soil. Who would’ve guessed with a name like a whale fin snake plant?
Masoniana belongs to one of the easiest indoor plants to care for, the snake plant family. They have low maintenance requirements and grow better when neglected rather than doted on, which makes them an ideal candidate for any individuals leading busy day-to-day lives.
Speaking of busy lives, we’ve put together a quick summary of the care requirements of the Whale Fin Snake Plant below.
Whale Fin Snake Plant Care Requirements – At a Glance
|Watering||Only water when soil is dry|
|Lighting||A position that receives plenty of bright indirect light|
|Temperature||50-95° Fahrenheit (10-35° Celsius)|
|Humidity||Any humidity, except for high humidity|
|Feeding||All-purpose houseplant fertilizer at the beginning of Spring|
|Soil||Loamy well-draining soil|
Images of Sansevieria Masoniana
Getting to Know the Whale Fin Snake Plant
To see a Whale Fin Snake Plant thrive in your home, we suggest devoting some time to getting to know your new houseplant.
Understanding their original habitat allows you to gain an appreciation for their needs and hopefully replicate those conditions in your home.
Scientific Name: Dracaena Masoniana (recently reclassified from Sansevieria Masoniana)
Common Names: Whale Fin Snake Plant, Mason’s Congo Sansevieria
Note: As you may have already noticed, we’ll interchangeably refer to this stunning plant as a whale fin snake plant or sansevieria masoniana.
The Sansevieria Masoniana grows natively on the African continent, in places such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Naturally growing in regions of central Africa, they thrive in dry climates with sporadic and unpredictable rainfall. Like other succulents, they store water in their fleshy leaves, making them drought tolerant.
Besides the novelty of looking like a whale fin sticking out of your planter, the Sansevieria Masoniana is a beautiful perennial.
They sport beautiful broad leaves with magnificent variegated jade green patterns and dark bottle green. You will see many whale fin snake plants growing with a single leaf because they are just that beautiful.
However, if allowed to grow naturally, they will form dense clusters of these broad leaves, creating a mat of leaves that are 1-2 feet (30-61 centimeters) in height.
Whale Fin Snake Plant Care Detailed Instructions
In this section, we will explore the care requirements of the Sansevieria Masoniana in detail. We’ll also provide links to helpful resources that dive into the topics more deeply.
As we mentioned at the beginning, the Sansevieria Masoniana is a drought-tolerant plant. The key word here is tolerant.
While they can survive periods of dryness and neglect, it doesn’t mean you can forget about them.
We recommend regular water top-ups. However, the frequency changes each season. For guidance on seasonal water frequency, check out our article HERE.
Always allow the soil to dry before adding more water to your Sansevieria Masoniana.
The Whale Fin Snake Plant thrives in plenty of bright indirect light.
They can tolerate early morning or late evening direct sunlight. However, midday and afternoon sun is too intense for indoor snake plants and will quickly dehydrate the leaves, causing leaf burn.
That said, the rules change slightly for Sansevieria Masonianas planted outdoors. Outdoor snake plants are hardened and can experience higher tolerances for sunlight.
Read more HERE for tips on lighting conditions for snake plants.
The Sansevieria Masoniana grows best in temperatures between 50-90° Fahrenheit (10-32° Celsius).
We recommend avoiding any freezing temperatures. Water expands when frozen. And because your Sansevieria Masoniana stores water in its leaves, it can cause irreparable damage to the leaf cells and harm the plant when it freezes.
If your area is susceptible to frost or freezing temperatures in winter, we recommend bringing any snake plants inside the house where the temperatures will remain at acceptable levels.
To keep your Whale Fin happy, keep them in between 30 and 50% relative humidity.
We understand humidity can be challenging to control. However, it is essential for regulating your snake plant’s internal processes, like transpiration.
When there is not enough moisture in the air (low humidity), it accelerates transpiration, which quickly dehydrates your plant and causes water stress. On the other hand, too much moisture will prevent transpiration, and your Whale Fin Snake Plant will suffocate.
We have written an in-depth article discussing how humidity affects snake plants.
Soil & Fertilizer Requirements
One thing we always do when we introduce a new snake plant to our collection is to repot them into fresh homemade soil.
Setting your Sansevieria Masoniana up in quality soil can significantly benefit your plant parent experience. The proper soil will reduce the frequency of your watering, facilitate the uptake of nutrients by your snake plant, and reduce its susceptibility to pests and disease.
To be effective, your snake plant soil must be:
- a loamy consistency (light and airy), and
- contain some organic materials with water absorption properties.
We have devised a recipe for the perfect snake plant potting mix. You can also watch our video on making snake plant soil below.
Pest and Diseases
If there is one disease that you should familiarise yourself with for the Sansevieria Masoniana, it is root rot.
Root rot is a fungal disease that can develop when your snake plant has been sitting in waterlogged soil from being overwatered. The process of eliminating root rot is straightforward. However, it involves repotting and treating your plant. You can read our step-by-step guide for removing root rot in snake plants HERE.
Other leaf-borne fungal diseases that can infect your Whale Fin include mildew and leaf spot. We explore these diseases and (more importantly) the treatments HERE.
Regarding pests, snake plants are most susceptible to sap-sucking insects like mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips. These pests have the equipment to penetrate the tough outer layer of the foliage and access the nutrient-rich sap.
The best way to detect any signs of pests (or disease, for that matter) is to regularly inspect your Whale Fin and manually remove any pests you see. The key is not letting their population get out of hand, becoming an infestation.
You can read more about symptoms of pest infestation HERE.
We consider planter selection for Sansevieria more critical than other indoor houseplants.
Like other snake plants, Whale Fins require a tight root system to support the fleshy, long leaves – probably more so for the Whale Fin, given their broad leaves.
When placed in a container too large for their root system, they will refocus their energy on developing the roots rather than growing new leaves. While they are still growing (under the soil), they will appear to be experiencing stunted growth.
Your snake plant pot should also have adequate drainage with plenty of drainage holes. As we pointed out earlier, constantly moist soil rots your Whale Fin’s root system.
How to Propagate Sansevieria Masoniana
There are several ways to propagate your Whale Fin Snake Plant. We’ll discuss two of the more popular methods for propagation.
Propagate by Cutting
To propagate by cutting, follow these steps:
- Identify and Cut Leaf – Choose a leaf that looks healthy and vibrant with no visible signs of pests or disease. Selecting the right leaf will give it the best opportunity for success. Cut the leaf towards the base with a sterilized pair of garden scissors (or a sharp knife). We like to use an upside-down V cut (or an arrowhead-shaped cut) for snake plants, as it will naturally prop the cutting up in your container, which will help to prevent rot from setting in. It also helps to prevent new roots from growing at unhelpful angles (usually with straight cuts).
- Air Dry Your Cutting – Allow your cutting to dry for 2-4 days in a safe place so that it doesn’t accidentally get knocked to the ground. Air drying your cutting allows the wound to form a callous, which helps to prevent any rot or disease from developing.
- Find a Container – find a tall and thin container to support your snake plant leaf cutting. We like to use glass containers like mason jars or small vases. The glass allows you to examine your cutting without disturbing it (such as lifting it out of the water to see if roots are growing).
- Begin the Rooting Process – The final step is to piece everything together. Place your cutting in the container and fill it with distilled water so the bottom third of the cutting is submerged. It is essential to ensure the calloused wound is beneath the water line to encourage root growth.
We strongly recommend using filtered or distilled water for the propagation process. Where you live, tap water may have chemicals that inhibit the propagation process.
Propagate by Division of Snake Plant Pups
To propagate by plant division, follow these steps:
- Identify the Point of Separation – because the Sansevieria Masoniana hovers above the ground, you don’t need to worry about uprooting your snake plants. Identify the point at which you would like to make the separation.
- Make the Cut – take a sharp knife sterilized with rubbing alcohol and make a clean cut.
- Repot your Plants – fill your propagation containers a third up with a good-quality potting mix (discussed above). Place each newly separated snake plant into a pot and backfill with quality potting mix until the soil level covers the roots. Give all your plants good watering and ensure all excess water drains out.
You can find detailed step-by-step instructions HERE.
Sansevieria Masoniana – Common Questions
Is the Whale Fin Snake Plant hard to source?
Yes – the Whale Fin Snake Plant is considered a rarer variety of snake plants when compared to other common varieties, such as the Sansevieria Trifasciata.
If you come across a Whale Fin in your travels, we recommend picking it up before someone else jumps at the opportunity.
How big can a whale fin snake plant get?
When grown indoors, the Whale Fin Snake Plant usually grows between 1-2 Feet in height.
However, grown outdoors in the ground, they can sometimes reach up to 3 feet in height.