Sansevieria cylindrica, also known as an African spear plant, has a super unique look and is super easy to take care of. Learn about sansevieria cylindrica care with my guide.
How do you care for a sansevieria cylindrica plant?
Hey, all! It’s time to talk about one of the coolest plants you can add to your collection while also not worrying too much about killing it. It’s the sansevieria cylindrica. These plants have stiff, pointy, upright leaves that kind of resemble swords.
A type of snake plant, sansevieria cylindrica plants are native to Africa, Southern Asia, and even the island of Madagascar. One of this plant’s fascinating features is that it releases oxygen at night due to its unique photosynthesis cycle.
Is sansevieria cylindrica a succulent?
Yes, sansevieria cylindrica is a succulent! Actually, all snake plants are succulents. The leaves are thick and juicy, storing water to get them through periods of drought. That’s why they can withstand so much neglect and still thrive.
Is it a sansevieria or a dracaena?
And now for the curve ball…the sansevieria cylindrica is technically now a dracaena angolensis. As with other snake plants similar to the cylindrical variety, it was realigned from the sansevieria genus to the dracaena genus several years ago.
In fact, it was only in 2017 that plant ID techniques had evolved enough to show that many snake plants we know and love and have thought to be part of the sansevieria genus should actually be in the dracaena genus.
So you’ll see this plant referred to both ways: its new official scientific name of dracaena angolensis, as well as the commonly accepted synonym sansevieria cylindrica. (And, of course, its more casual nicknames of African spear plant and cylindrical snake plant.)
Sansevieria cylindrica varieties
There are a bunch of different varieties of this gorgeous plant. The leaves and their coloring are all different between the various forms of the African Spear Plant. For instance, the “Spaghetti” variety has thinner leaves, while the “Skyline” variation of the plant has thicker, more upright leaves.
The other common type, the “Patula,” features leaves that will grow outward and bend down more, looking more open than other African Spear Plants. This variety looks a lot like a starfish to me.
How tall do cylindrical snake plants grow?
These plants can grow up to seven feet tall in ideal conditions and nearly one to two feet wide. However, it can take a while to reach this size. And the each individual leaf only get to about 1 inch in diameter. Cylindrical snake plants are often sold in a tabletop size.
When they bloom, their flowers are white and appear in the center of the leaves. These flowers are often tiny, delicate, white blooms and will have a better chance of blooming if the plant is planted at the start of the growing season in the spring.
Want more easy, cool plants? Check out my Moonshine Snake Plant Care guide, my post about 10 of my favorite succulents, and my Burro’s Tail Care Guide!
How to care for your cylindrical snake plant
A more manageable plant to care for, there are still some crucial steps that you should take to ensure the longevity of your plant. Here are some quick care tips for your sansevieria cylindrica.
How much sun does a sansevieria cylindrica need?
Sansevieria cylindrica requires a bright indirect light. Typically the light beams you would find with south or west windows. However, they can also tolerate dim lights or even direct sunlight for a short period.
They are versatile, but do not leave them too long in the sun! It can dull their coloring or burn their leaves without proper acclimation.
Can sansevieria cylindrica survive in low light?
Yes, this plant can survive in low light. But lower light levels will slow its growth—and it’s already a slow grower. So it will survive…but not thrive. Don’t leave the sansevieria cylindrica in the low light for an extended period.
Medium light levels are perfectly suitable for snake plants, though. In fact, many snake plant varieties are my plants of choice for the less-than-ideal light spots in my home.
How often should I water a cylindrical snake plant?
This one thrives on neglect, so take it easy when watering this plant! The best way to ensure it gets enough water is to water it every two or so weeks in the summer and then every month or so in the winter when the sun is less intense.
Whatever time of year, I let the soil dry out totally before I water it again. When I do water the plant, I do so thoroughly to soak the soil. Make sure to let all of the excess water drain from the planter’s drainage holes before moving on.
These are extremely hardy and drought-tolerant plants. Overwatering is a quick way to kill them! That’s because it overly saturates the soil, choking out the roots and eventually killing off the plant.
Any succulent soil will do for this plant. The key is to keep the soil light and well-draining. Generally, succulent or cactus soils will have things like sand and perlite in them to enhance drainage.
Snake plants are used to growing in loose soils. You can easily make your own succulent soil at home by mixing 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 perlite, and 1/3 horticultural sand.
There are no specific nutrient requirements for the cylindrical snake plant. When you repot the plant with fresh soil, it will replenish the plant’s roots with all the nutrients they need and more.
Should I use fertilizer?
If it’s been a few years since you’ve repotted, consider a diluted houseplant fertilizer or something designed for a cactus. This will replenish the nutrients in the soil to give the plant a bit of a boost.
Only fertilize your plant during the spring and the summer but avoid the colder months. They don’t require a lot of fertilizer, either.
I like to work worm castings into the top layer of plant soil to help replenish nutrients instead of using chemical fertilizers. Concentrated Liqui-Dirt is also a fav of mine.
Sansevieria cylindrica potting & growth rate
Sansevieria cylindrica is quite a slow grower. Don’t be alarmed if you see new growth sprouting from the plant’s soil like that looks like a regular snake plant’s leaves, either—they take time to mature.
You can easily handle repotting as you would with most plants. It could be several years before you need to repot your plant depending on its roots-to-pot ratio when you got it and its care conditions. And don’t be afraid to cut off the dead tips of the leaves as your plant continues to grow!
Do sansevieria cylindrica like to be root bound?
I wouldn’t say that sansevieria cylindrica necessarilly likes to be root bound…but it certainly doesn’t seem to mind it! Root bound or pot bound are terms used to describe plants that grow in circles around a planter’s base several times until there seems to be more roots than soil!
Snake plants in general tend to thrive in this type of an environment probably because it means there is less soil to retain water. And since the plant is very drought tolerant, it doesn’t mind that it gets water that it just passing through.
Remember, if the plant’s roots are sitting in dense, wet soil, it will develop root rot, its leaves will begin to yellow, and it will die. Less soil generally means less chance for this—but your plant will eventually appreciate some fresh soil and a slightly larger pot.
When you do repot your plant, make sure you only size up the pot’s diameter an inch or so. This will make some room for fresh soil and new growth while also keeping it relatively snug in its home.
Temperature & humidity needs
Sansevieria cylindrica plants are surprisingly versatile with their temperature and humidity needs. There is no strict range you have to follow. Generally, you should try for between 65 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re comfortable in your home, then your sansevieria cylindrica plant will do just fine.
However, snake plants are not cold or frost tolerant. Avoid any temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as this can cause damage to your sansevieria cylindrica. Also, avoid placing this plant in front of your A/C or front of your vent.
If you have your plant outdoors for the spring and summer, make sure to bring it in when the temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night. A few cold snaps at night won’t kill the plant, but don’t make a habit of it.
Thankfully, this is a plant you shouldn’t have to worry too much about humidity with. It tolerates almost all normal household humidity levels very well. Hooray for no humidifiers.
Pest prevention & other concerns
Here’s some more fantastic news: these plants are not a favorite among pests. Whereas other plants would bring insects and the potential for certain diseases, the sansevieria cylindrica does not attract them.
However, these plants are toxic to pets and humans. They aren’t meant to be ingested, so definitely keep them out of reach from kids, cats, dogs, and others you might not trust unsupervised.
If you are concerned about toxicity, do more research to see if this plant is right for you or if you might have to choose another lovely houseplant for your home.
Can you unbraid a sansevieria cylindrica?
Many sansevieria cylindrica plants come “braided.” The leaves are wound around one another and tied at the top. This is purely cosmetic. There is no benefit for the plant.
However, they did not grow like that. So new growth might not continue the same pattern unless you help it out and braid it. And some argue that it’s actually best to unbraid a cylindrical snake plant when you bring it home.
So yes, you certainly can unbraid a sansevieria cylindrica. Just take the tie off the top and gentle unwind the stems. It’s likely they’ll be permanently a bit wavy and may have some marks on them from the braiding.
So if you’re looking for the type of sansevieria cylindrica plant that looks like straight fingers popping up out of the soil, don’t buy a braided one. Keep a lookout for an unbraided plant.
Can you propagate a sansevieria cylindrica?
Yes! You can propagate a sansevieria cylindrica plant. And I have done it myself, too. I have a whole post all about 5 different ways you can propagate snake plants, so check that out if you want tons of pics and info. I’ll provide a brief overview of two propagation methods here as well.
Method #1: Leaf/stem cuttings
The first step is to take a leaf or stem cutting. While many plants require at least part of a stem to root the plant, snake plants can actually be propagated with a single leaf cutting! It takes a long time, though. I’m talking months and months.
Take a stem cutting, let it callus over for a day or so, and then plant it in soil. Keep the soil moist but not too heavy and wet for several weeks. Once you can tug the cutting and get some resistance, you’ll want to back off the watering just a bit.
After months, you’ll see a little sprout come up. When that sprout develops into a plant, you can cut off the original piece you used to propagate the new plant.
I’ve also had great success use LECA to root a whale fin snake plant cutting. You can see my LECA propagation 101 post, which has lots of details and pictures.
Method #2: Division
Another way to propagate a cylindrical snake plant is through division. While I have propagated other snake plants using stem and leaf cuttings, I have personally propagated a cylindrical snake plant only by division.
The process is the same, though. And you have to wait until your sansevieria makes babies. Sansevieria plants propagate themselves by popping up babies around the base of the mother plant. These are attached under the soil by a white tuberous-looking structure called a rhizome.
You can simply cut the baby plant off in the middle of the rhizome. Make sure you take some of the baby plant’s root structure with it, too. Pot that separately using fresh well-draining soil and you’re good to go. Super easy.
Sansevieria cylindrica care summary
The sansevieria cylindrica plant is a great plant to add to your collection. And with these care tips, you are well on your way to giving your new plant a wonderful home! Here is a care recap:
- Bright, indirect light; can tolerate medium light levels
- Use a cactus or succulent soil to encourage drainage
- Water when the soil has dried out completely
- Not a cold-weather plant but does fine in all normal household temperatures; tolerates low humidity great
- Toxic and not safe to ingest for humans or animals