How to Remove the Offsets From a Mother-in-Law's Tongue Houseplant

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Things You'll Need

  • Knife

  • Potting soil

  • Small pots

The mother-in-law's tongue is related to the agaves.

The so-called mother-in-law tongue, or snake plant, is classified as Sansevieria trifasciata. Part of the large agave family, snake plant has thick, succulent leaves that point upward and dark green markings resembling a snake. Rising to popularity in the 1930s, this plant makes a carefree houseplant that will live for many years. In areas with mild winters, it can be grown outdoors. Plants often produce offsets, or side shoots, when they become root-bound, which is a good time to separate these baby plants and give the older plant more room to grow.


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Step 1

Remove your root-bound mother-in-law's tongue plant from its pot when it forms side shoots, also called offsets.

Step 2

Cut offsets away from the base of the plant by breaking them off with your fingers or cutting them with a small, sharp knife. Include as many roots as possible for each offset.

Step 3

Fill small pots with standard potting soil and water until it runs out the drainage holes.

Step 4

Scoop out enough potting soil to make room for the root system of the offset. Pace one offset into each small pot, cover with additional potting soil and water again.


Step 5

Place your potted offsets in a spot that does not receive full or hot sun. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Step 6

Replant your main plant, using fresh potting soil. Wash the pot if you use the same one to eliminate any chance of insect infestation or plant diseases.


Spring is the best time to separate offsets from the mother-in-law’s tongue.



Barbara Fahs

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.