Hahnii Bird's Nest Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii')
One of the best ways to improve something is to make it smaller. Miniature horses? Adorable. Mini-donuts? We’ll take four dozen, please. Hahnii Bird's Nest Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii')? This lovable dwarf may be our favorite miniature thing of all.
Discovered as a sport of Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ and patented back in 1941, the Bird's Nest Sansevieria takes everything you love about this kind of plant and crams it into a package less than a foot tall. Its leaves are the same irresistible dark green, covered base-to-tip with irregular silver-green crossbands—but shorter, maxing out at 10” (but with 4”-6” more likely). This results in a plant shaped very much like a rose blossom, or the titular bird’s nest. It’s cute, compact … almost even cuddly … and it can brighten up even the smallest space.
It’s also nearly indestructible. While sansevierias as a whole are often said to “thrive on neglect”, many people consider Bird’s Nest Sansevieria to be the toughest, easiest-to-please, most beginner-friendly houseplant in the world. It’s comfortable in any light other than a full-sun desert or a closed-door closet, it needs the bare minimum of water and fertilizer, likes the same temperatures and humidity as humans … it doesn’t even need to be repotted unless it literally splits its pot.
Hahnii Bird’s Nest Sansevieria. It’s miniature. It’s mighty. It’s marvelous.
Characteristics and traits of a Hahnii Bird's Nest Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii')
Scientific Name: Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii' (syn: Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii’, Sansevieria zeylanica 'Hahnii')
Genus: Dracaena (formerly Sansevieria)
Family: Dracaenaceae (formerly Asparagaceae)
Common Name: Hahn’s Sansevieria, Hahnii Sansevieria, Sansevieria ‘Hahnii’, Dwarf Mother in Law’s Tongue, Bird’s Nest Sansevieria, Snake Plant, Dwarf Snake Plant
Indoor: All year in temperatures above 60°F
Outdoor Zones: 9b-11
Type: Perennial evergreen succulent, propagated via division or leaf cuttings
Mature Height: 10”-12”
Mature Width: 4”-6”
Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
Growth Rate: Slow
Flower: Very rare - central stalk of inconspicuous, but somewhat fragrant greenish-to-yellow flowers
Foliage: Stubby, sword-shaped leaves 3”-10” long and up to 2” wide, dark green with heavy silver-green crossbands, arranged in a rosette.
Plant Care and Advice for Hahnii Bird's Nest Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii')
Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 9b-11
Light Requirements: Best in bright indirect, but tolerates medium or low. Can scald in full sun.
Water Requirements: In spring and summer, water thoroughly when top 1” of soil becomes dry. Decrease amount of water in fall & winter.
Drought Tolerance: Excellent
Temperature: Likes indoor room temp. 65°F-85°F. Bring outdoor pots in when temps fall below 40°F. Can often survive colder temps if planted directly in the ground.
Air Purification: Excellent - removes airborne pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene
Toxicity: Toxic. Can cause symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested.
Fertilizer: Half-strength cactus, succulent, or quality general fertilizer every 4-8 weeks in spring and summer. None in fall or winter.
Container Friendly: Yes, but needs good drainage
Because it actually likes being pot-bound, you can actually wait to repot Bird’s Nest Sansevieria until its roots are actually warping (plastic) or cracking (ceramic, terracotta) its pot. When that happens, choose a pot 1”-2” wider than the existing pot, make sure it has a hole for excess water to drain out, and fill it with moist soil.
The specific type of soil isn’t terribly important as long as it drains well. Bird’s Nest Sansevieria is happy with 1:1 mix of cactus/succulent soil and garden soil … or African violet mix blended 2:1 with sand or perlite ... or straight cactus or succulent soil … or a blend of 50% perlite or sand, 25% peat, and 25% garden soil. But if you don’t have those, whatever you do have is probably good, too. This plant is just not that picky.
When you repot, offer less water for the first month or so, while the plant acclimates to its new pot. Also, keep in mind repotting is the best possible time to propagate the plant via division.
Bird’s Nest Sansevieria is considered one of the most (if not THE most) beginner-friendly plant for a reason: It’s incredibly forgiving and tolerant.
For example, the plant is content in almost any lighting situation, from bright indirect to medium to low to fluorescent lights. The only exception is all-day full sun, which can scald the plant’s leaves. Watering is similarly easy. When the top 1” of soil becomes dry, check the calendar. If it’s spring or summer, water the soil thoroughly, then allow the soil to drain. In fall and winter, offer smaller amounts of water—just enough to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Rugged as this plant is, root rot is still its greatest threat.
Bird’s Nest Sansevieria is comfortable at normal household temperatures (65°F-85°F), and has little need for extra humidity. In fact, too much moisture on the leaves can lead to fungal infections, so misting is actually not recommended.
Fertilizer is considered optional by most Bird’s Nest Sansevieria parents, but the plant may appreciate a half-strength dose of fertilizer (cactus, succulent, or general liquid) offered every 1-2 months from April to August.
As long as your Bird's Nest Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii') isn’t allowed to sit in soggy soil, there’s very little risk of its health failing. With that in mind if the leaves begin to warp or change color drastically, moisture levels are the first thing you should investigate.
For example, wrinkled, “crispy”, or bent leaves can indicate that the plant needs more water. However, leaves that are curled or falling over can be a sign of overwatering (as can mushy patches and black or brown leaves). It’s often easier to just test the moisture in the soil—not just at the surface, but a few inches down, where the roots are—to see if it’s too dry or too wet. If it’s dry, add water. If it’s waterlogged, you may need to repot the plant into drier, better-draining soil in order to save it.
In the rare event that your Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii' gets spider mites, mealybugs, or some other infection, there are several treatment options. Start by mechanically wiping the leaves with a damp rag daily. If the pests persist after a week, upgrade to neem oil, insecticidal soap, or a system of dabbing the pests daily with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
It is possible to propagate Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii', but the process can be time consuming and unreliable.
The first propagation method is by simple division. As it grows, Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii' sends out underground stems, called rhizomes, that develop new plantlet “pups”. This is by far the easier method, and the resulting pups are identical to the parent. However, the plant decides when everything happens, so it does require patience.
It’s also possible to propagate Dracaena Trifasciata 'Hahnii' via leaf cuttings. While you do get to decide when the process begins, the plantlets that come from this process will likely be regularly sized Dracaena Trifasciata, not the dwarf 'Hahnii' variety.
If that sounds good to you, simply cut off a leaf as close to the base as you can and let it sit 24 hours to heal its wound. Then dip the cut edge in rooting hormone (an optional step, but a helpful one) and insert the leaf cut-side-down about ½” into moist soil. Place the pot in bright-but-indirect light, keep the soil moist but not soggy, and within 6-8 months, you should see a plantlet appear.