Sansevieria Cylindrica Care: Growing African Spear

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I’m shocked that more people don’t grow Sansevieria cylindrica. The African spear plant is an incredible houseplant! Its smooth, cylindrical leaves make it a real attention-grabber.

Like its relative the snake plant, it’s an easy-care plant. But it’s much more versatile. Like lucky bamboo, this plant can be braided to give it a unique appearance. Its leaves layer in the same way that a bowstring hemp plant’s do.

So let’s talk about the growing tips you’ll need to bring this focal-point plant into your home or garden. You’ll love the “elephant’s toothpick”, as it’s sometimes called. I know I do!

Good Products for Sansevieria cylindrica Care

Quick Care Guide

Sansevieria cylindrica looks quite a bit different from other snake plant varieties.
Sansevieria cylindrica looks quite a bit different from other snake plant varieties. Source: Level6
Common Name(s): Cylindrical snake plant, African spear or spear sansevieria
Scientific NameSansevieria cylindrica
Family:Asparagaceae
LightBright light to full sun
SoilWell-draining cactus mix
Water:Water deeply, then allow to fully dry before watering again
Pests & Diseases:Vine weevils, mealy bugs

All About African Spear

Indigenous to Angola, the African spear is an evergreen perennial succulent species. In the wild, they often grow in dense stands, spreading by creeping rhizomes under the soil. Adaptable and able to handle neglect, these plants are great for beginners.

Cylindrical leaves are the hallmark of Sansevieria cylindrica. One of its common names, cylindrical snake plant, reflects that. These tubular, smooth leaves are dark green in color, some with green-grey variegation.

There is also a gorgeous variety called Sansevieria boncel, also known as spear orchid or skyline spear that has fat, short, cylindrical leaves. Keep an eye out for this one!

This plant flowers! Cream-white flower spikes may appear on mature plants. Lightly fragrant, they aren’t showy but are enjoyable nonetheless.

Common names for Sansevieria cylindrica include:

  • African spear
  • Cylindrical snake plant
  • Spear sansevieria
  • Elephant’s toothpick

Sansevieria Cylindrica Care

Sansevieria cylindrica is quite a tough plant that can endure even the most extreme conditions. But if you want to see a healthy and elegant looking plant growing in your home, you need to take care of the following requirements. 

Light & Temperature

Although it can withstand very low light conditions, it prefers to grow in plenty of sun and bright light. In the dark, it won’t show too much growth. Placing it near a north-facing window or sheer curtained windows is a good idea. When growing outdoors, it’s best placed in a bright light with shade during the most intense sun in the day. This placement takes advantage of a long growing season and helps the plant survive hot periods.

The plant naturally grows in hot and dry areas so it will not appreciate cold temperatures. Anything below 50 °F (10 °C) can be too much for the plant to handle and will result in cold damage. It prefers room temperature and can tolerate mild fluctuations.

Water & Humidity

Due to its drought tolerant nature, it doesn’t require frequent watering. Watering once every week should be enough during the summer growing season. Make sure the soil is free draining and dries out before you water the next time as wet soil can lead to root rot. If the leaves turn yellow, or get mushy and soft at their base, you’ve overwatered your plant.

During winters, you should water once a month or whenever the soil dries out completely.

Humidity is not a big concern for these plants, but it doesn’t mean that you place in an extra humid environment. In fact it likes good aeration and dry air as long as things don’t get too drafty.

Soil

The plants grow best in a cactus potting mix as it’s fast draining. The plant cannot tolerate a soggy potting medium and it will quickly prove to be fatal. So be careful to grow it in a well-drained sandy soil nourished with peaty compost that does not retain water. 

Fertilizer

You can feed the plant once a month spring through fall with a fertilizer especially made for succulents, mixed at half the recommended strength. Over feeding the plant can actually kill it as Sansevieria cylindrica is a light feeder. You should not feed during winters when the growth is slow.

If you like, you can also improve the soil with an organic granular fertilizer as well.

Repotting

Sansevieria cylindrica are generally slow growers especially if they are placed in low light conditions. So they will not require repotting for quite a few years. However, if your plant has got overcrowded or outgrown the pot, you should consider repotting it. Ideally you should repot during spring.

Transfer the plant to a container that’s one size larger than the previous one. A wider container is best as this plant grows top heavy. Make sure you give the plant some time to settle in the new container before you can start regular watering. Water sparingly until the plant has adjusted to the new pot.

Propagation

The african spears plant in a more natural state.
The african spears plant in a more natural state. Source: wallygrom

To propagate Sansevieria cylindrica plants, understand they grow with rhizomes. They send off runners or offshoot that can be untangled and separated with a sharp knife or blade if you want to propagate the plant. Wait until the stalks of the plant are at least 6 inches tall before you separate the plants and pot them individually.

You can also propagate the plant via leaf cuttings. Take a sharp knife to remove a cluster rosette of leaves from the roots. Knock off the old soil and plant the cutting in a new pot. Just see that the cuttings are at least 2 to 4 inches and are planted upright to ensure proper growth.

Pruning

Sansevieria plants generally don’t require pruning unless you want to do it for cosmetic purposes. However, if you notice a leaf turning yellow you can cut it at the base using pruning shears.

Sansevieria cylindrica is a popular ornamental houseplant as it is easy to culture and take care of. That’s why they’re preferred by busy home gardeners as they don’t trouble them as such. Here are a few things you need to know in this regard.

Growing Problems

While, the African spear is a tough plant and can thrive on neglect, there’s one exception to the rule – their containers should be well-draining. Any growing problem with this plant is usually related to over watering.

Soggy soil, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and inadequate light can result in growth problems that may turn lethal. Rotting roots with the leaves turning yellow is normally due to too much water. If this happens, cut away the healthy part of the plant and repot it.

Pests

Sansevieria cylindrica is susceptible to get attacked by vine weevils that eat away the edges of the leaves, causing irreversible damage to the plant.

If you notice an adult weevil, you should immediately drench the potting mixture with neem oil or a suitable pesticide. However, if the roots have been significantly damaged, the plant will probably be beyond saving.  

Diseases

Sansevieria cylindrica plants are not likely to get affected by diseases. They mostly suffer from fungal infections as a result of root rot. These can be treated suing fungicides and making sure the soil is free-draining and not kept wet.

FAQs

Q. My Sansevieria cylindrica is growing too leggy. What is causing this?

A. This is probably because they’re not getting enough sunlight or are constantly placed in a dark location. Place your plant in a spot where it can receive bright filtered sunlight so that it grows normally.

Q. My African spear plant is showing curling of leaves. What can I do to stop it?

A. Curling leaves are usually a result of under watering during summers. Although the plant does not appreciate too much water, it’s also not advisable to leave it completely dried out soil for long periods.

Q. Is Sansevieria cylindrica poisonous to cats?

A. Yes, the plant containers poisonous saponins that can cause sickness in your cat. It’s not extremely toxic, but your pet will get a mild reaction so it’s best to keep them out of reach of cats.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

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