How does my Whale Fin Grow?
Your Variegated Sansevieria masoniana plant has an underground rhizome. On this rhizome are ‘eyes’ (buds) which have the ability to grow into a new plant. They are quite difficult to see on the Whale fin but there are dozens on the rhizome in the photo below.
When your Mother plant is healthy enough and the rhizome large enough, an ‘eye’ initiates and produces a new plant. We call this new plant an Off-set or Pup or some call it a baby.
When the Whale Fin is mature it will tend to produce just one leaf per shoot ie a pup will be just one huge leaf. But in the earlier stages the Mother plant sometimes has two leaves or will send up a pup with two leaves – this is perfectly normal and just part of the juvenile phase of the plant. These two leaves are sometimes very similar in variegation and sometiems quite different. Sometimes they even send up several leaves in a rosette – I wrote about that junvenile behavior here -> Whale Fin Rosette ).
Why is every Variegated Whale Fin leaf different?
Sansevieria masoniana variegation is a Chimeral variegation – this is further explained in this article I have written about Whale Fin Variegation. But in summary it is a genetic mutation and the green and white (or yellow) is deteremined by the chromosomes.
My Whale Fin Pup is NOT same as the Mother plant?
Again, because it is a gentic “thing” there is nothing you can do to control what the next off-set will look like. Sometimes it is highly variegated and sometimes it will be lightly – it’s just a matter of chance. We have grown hundreds of Variegated Whale Fins and very rarely do they send a reverted off-set. If they do happen to send a reverted pup, just cut it off as you would any pup and hopefully the next one will be variegated. Again, I have given detailed instructions on how to do this in this other article about Sanseveria masoniana Variegation.
How big will it Grow?
Eventually you will get new pups that are 1 metre long and 20cm plus wide. It is going to take quite some time (ie several years) and regular fertiliser. We are still working on it but here are some pics of what we have as of January 2023.
How do I Plant or Pot-up my Variegated Sansevieria masoniana?
I want to Grow my Variegated Sansevieria masoniana in a Pot?
To grow your Whale Fin plant in a pot we suggest 1 plant in a 200mm pot OR 3 in a 270mm pot.
This will allow them enough space to grow for about 2 years before you need to re-pot them. Of course it depends on how much you feed them as to how fast they will grow. And if left in pots for many years you may find the Rhizome will eventually break a ceramic pot or push out through a hole in a plastic pot.
We suggest you use a free-draining potting mix. Many people will use a succulent mix; or Half “Cymbidium mix” and half “General Purpose Mix”; or “General Purpose Mix” with added 20-30% perlite. After trialling several blends we have found that using Coarse bark 70%; perlite 10-15%; coir peat 10-15% (60/40 blend) which is incidentally what we use for all our epiphytes, works just as well if not better. And be sure to add some slow-realse fertiliser if your mix does not have any already.
Most people are afraid to fertilise their Whale Fins and thus they grow like snails. Whilst they are certainly not a fast grower – they do respond to a regular foliar feed. As a basic starter try something like Seasol (stimulates root growth) one week and Powerfeed the following – use your own favourites that you use on all your other plants. [You are fertilising your plants regularly – aren’t you!]
The Variegated Whale Fin are a super hardy plant. They will survive drought and neglect. About the only thing that will cause any propblems is over-watering. Don’t let them sit in water – they will rot – don’t leave water in the saucer!
I want to Grow my Variegated Sansevieria masoniana in the Garden?
The first question a lot of people ask is won’t they become weedy? No! They grow so slow that they are just not going to become a weed. Their cousin the Sansevieria fasciculata does become a weed problem because they grow and spread quickly.
In the garden we suggest you plant them about 50cm apart. Dig a hole, add your favourite fertiliser and plant.
They will grow best outdoors in bright light but sheltered from the hottest sun. Having said that we are currently growing ours in the full sun (waiting to plant some trees around them) and they are doing just fine – the original leaves did burn some but the new leaves are only showing some minor bleaching. On the flip side a family member has them growing under trees in heavy shade, they grow slow but have been there for about 20 years.
Be sure to plant in a well drained area and it must never get water-logged.
Your Variegated Sansevieria masoniana grows via a rhizome; variegation is all the in genetics; each leaf is gorgeous and unique; each leaf should last many years. Don’t over water and you will have the Whale Fin forever in your collection. ENJOY!