Moonshine Snake Plant Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’)
True story: Decades ago, my hillbilly granddaddy back in Kentucky had an actual moonshine still. But with all due respect to my dearly departed ancestor, I’d choose Moonshine Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’) over homemade hooch any day.
Native to the equatorial jungles of Africa, Moonshine has the same shape as the common sansevieria, Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (the chartreuse-edged one most everyone knows). Its sword-shaped leaves are almost impossibly slender—typically up to 36” long and less than 3” wide—and held straight upright. Altogether, it gives the plant a dramatic, sleek, even fashionable appearance.
This would be enough for most plants. After all, Laurentii is one of the most popular tropical plants in the world. But Moonshine’s not done yet. It freshens the mix by eschewing the standard sansevieria color palette in favor of pure, pale silver-green, trimmed by a single dark green pinstripe around each leaf edge. The result is a plant every bit as striking as the standard snake plant, but even more stylish and elegant.
It’s also effortless to care for, thanks to the trademark sansevieria toughness. Moonshine tolerates lighting conditions ranging from bright indirect to low light (though low light means it grows slower and gets greener), and has very basic water, fertilizer, and care needs.
Given its unique profile and unusual color, it should come as no surprise that Moonshine Sansevieria is both a fantastic specimen plant and an ideal accent plant. It looks phenomenal in most any room, next to most any other plants (or none at all). A rugged survivor with the looks of a supermodel, Moonshine Sansevieria is refined, tasteful, and irresistible.
Characteristics and traits of a Moonshine Snake Plant Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’)
Scientific Name: Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’ (formerly Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’)
Common Name: Moonshine Sansevieria, Moonlight Sansevieria, Moonshine Snake Plant, Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Good Luck Plant, Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, Saint George’s Sword, Sansevieria Futura Silver Offset, Moonlight Snake Plant, Silver Moonshine
Indoor: All year in temperatures above 60°F
Outdoor Zones: 10-12
Type: Perennial evergreen succulent; Propagated via division or leaf cuttings.
Mature Height: 2’-3’
Mature Width: 1’-2’
Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
Growth Rate: Slow
Flower: Very rare on indoor specimens - tall central stalk supporting two dozen or more small, green-white flowers shaped like spindly lilies.
Foliage: Long, thin, sword-shaped leaves up to several feet in length, light white-green in color with a thin dark green stripe around the edge, arranged in a circular whorl.
Plant Care and Advice for Moonshine Snake Plant Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’)
Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 10-12
Light Requirements: Prefers bright indirect, but tolerates medium and low light well. Can take full sun in some locations.
Water Requirements: March-August, water when the top ½” of soil becomes dry. Sept-Feb, wait for top 1” to become fully dry and give smaller drinks.
Drought Tolerance: Excellent
Temperature: Prefers indoor room temp. 65°F-85°F. Bring outdoor plants in when temps fall below 45°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. Saponins in tissues can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Fertilizer: Succulent or cactus food at ½ strength every other month March-August
Container Friendly: Yes - with proper drainage
Many owners put Moonshine Sansevieria in a terracotta pot and don’t repot it until the plant’s roots literally crack the pot. While we don’t necessarily recommend this exact strategy (we hate to waste a pot like that), the point is that this plant likes being pot-bound and dislikes having its roots disturbed, so feel free to put off repotting until it becomes an urgent need. .
When you do make the move, we actually do recommend a terracotta pot (they dry faster) with a nice, big drainage hole. There are several good options for soil: African violet mix with extra sand added to increase drainage, standard cactus or succulent mix, or a homemade blend of 50% perlite or sand, 25% peat, and 25% garden soil. Repot as you would normally, keeping in mind that this is also an ideal time to divide the plant into two or more smaller plants, if so desired.
The Moonlight Snake Plant Sansevieria lives up to its reputation as a “set it and forget it” plant. Few tropicals are as unfussy about even basic needs.
For example, while Moonlight does best when given bright indirect light, it can also handle medium light, partial shade, low light, and in many locations full sun. It’s worth noting that low light may cause the plant to grow slower and trade some of its silver color for green, but it survives just fine.
As a semi-succulent, Moonlight also doesn’t drink much. In spring and summer, wait for the top ½” of soil to dry out, then give the plant lukewarm/room temperature water. In fall and winter, let the top 1” of soil dry (even if it takes a month) and offer just enough water to keep the soil from drying out completely. Too little water is far better than too much, which could cause fatal root rot.
When watering Moonlight Sansevieria, try to avoid getting water on the plant itself, especially in the center “rosette” from which the leaves grow. Too much water on the leaves invites fungal infection.
Moonlight Sansevieria is happy at normal humidity (though occasional light misting can ward off spider mites). It does best in typical household temperatures between 65°F and 75°F, but can survive a much wider range (85°F to 40°F, though it dislikes being colder than 55°F).
While some plant parents give Moonlight Sansevieria a big dose of fertilizer once a year (in spring), we’d recommend smaller, but more frequent applications. Start with a half-strength dose of cactus or succulent fertilizer every 2 months from March to August and adjust (up to once a month or down to every 3 months) based upon your plant’s reaction.
Those lovely silver leaves can tell you an awful lot about your Moonshine Sansevieria (Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’)—but the signals aren’t always simple to interpret.
For example, droopy leaves on a sansevieria typically mean the plant is getting too much water rather than not enough. That should seem non-intuitive to most any plant lover.
On the other hand, if the leaves look a bit wrinkly and bent, the plant probably does need a bit more water.
If the leaves begin to fall, it could be one of several issues. Fortunately, they’re easy to test. Overwatering is the most common cause, so check the soil to see if it’s soggy. If it is, you’ll want to either dry it as quickly as possible or repot the plant into fresh, dry soil. If the soil isn’t the culprit, your Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’ likely needs more light or a larger pot.
Finally, if a leaf dies, feel free to trim it off at its base. They don’t grow back. However, you could easily use it to propagate a new plant (more on that below).
Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’ resists most pests, but if you do see unwelcome invaders such as spider mites, thrips, scales, or mealybugs, there are several ways to treat them. First is to simply wipe the leaves frequently with a damp cloth. If pests remain after doing this daily for a week or so, you can treat the plant with neem oil, insecticidal soap, or by dabbing individual pests with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
There are two simple ways to propagate Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’. The first is division—simply waiting for the plant to grow smaller “pups” via underground stems, then separating those pups from the parent plant. This method is virtually effortless, but requires you to wait on the plant to grow the pups. Moreover, the pups will have the same captivating silver color as the parent plant you know and love.
Fortunately, Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’ can be propagated via leaf cuttings most any time.
However—and this is important—when propagating this plant via leaf cuttings, the new pups will usually revert to the standard, mottled green coloration of its original variety, Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Robusta’. Still lovely, no doubt. Just not the same silver as Dracaena Trifasciata ‘Moonshine’.
If you still want to proceed with propagation via leaf cuttings, start by choosing a leaf you’re willing to sacrifice and cutting it off at the base, taking care to avoid wounding any other leaves in the process. Cut that newly severed leaf into 3”-4” pieces, making sure to note which end pointed upward and which end pointed downward when it was still attached to the main plant. We like to use an A-shaped cut (two small, slightly angled cuts that meet in the center) to mark the downward edge. Let the cuttings sit for 24-72 hours so their wounds harden off. This will help them root instead of rot.
From here, you have a choice of rooting your cuttings in water or soil.
To root in water:
- Place the cutting in a glass or other container so that the downward end of the cutting is immersed in roughly 1” of distilled water. It’s best if the cutting doesn’t rest directly on the bottom of the container, so use a container that’s narrower at the bottom than the cutting or devise a way to hold the cutting slightly above the bottom. For instance, you can turn a bamboo food skewer into a tiny crutch by clipping it to the cutting with a hair clip.
- Change the water at least once a day, wipe the inside of the container clean once a week, and gently wipe off any slime that gloms onto the cutting itself.
- You should see roots start to form within 2-8 weeks, followed many weeks later by a pup.
To root in soil:
- Dip the cutting’s downward edge in rooting hormone (optional, but highly recommended)
- Insert the cutting ½” to ¾” into fresh, moist soil and place it somewhere with bright, indirect light.
- Keep the soil moist, but never soggy, and wait. In 6-8 months, you should see a pup emerge.