Growing African Spear: A Unique Houseplant for Your Home

I can’t believe more people aren’t growing Sansevieria cylindrica. This African spear plant is absolutely incredible and deserves more attention. With its smooth, cylindrical leaves, it’s a real showstopper.

While it’s easy to care for like its relative, the snake plant, Sansevieria cylindrica offers so much more versatility. Just like lucky bamboo, you can even braid the leaves, giving it a unique and striking appearance. The layered leaves resemble those of a bowstring hemp plant.

Let’s dive into the essential tips you need to know to bring this focal-point plant into your home or garden. You’re going to love this “elephant’s toothpick” as much as I do!

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): African spear plant, Cylindrical snake plant, Spear sansevieria, Elephant’s toothpick

Scientific Name: Sansevieria cylindrica

Family: Asparagaceae

Height and Spread: Up to 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Light: Thrives in bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sun, especially in the afternoon.

Soil: Requires well-draining sandy soil mixed with peaty compost. Do not use a potting medium that retains water.

Water: Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Overwatering can cause root rot.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly with a succulent fertilizer mixed at half the recommended strength. Avoid fertilizing during winter.

Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to vine weevil attacks. Watch out for rotting roots caused by overwatering.

All About African Spear

Indigenous to Angola, the African spear is an evergreen perennial succulent species. In the wild, it often forms dense stands, spreading through creeping rhizomes below the soil. Adaptable and capable of handling neglect, these snake plants are perfect for beginners. Its botanical synonym is Dracaena angolensis.

Sansevieria cylindrica is known for its distinctive cylindrical leaves. The name “cylindrical snake plant” reflects this characteristic. The tubular leaves are smooth and dark green, with some displaying green-grey variegation.

If you’re on the lookout for something truly unique, keep an eye out for the Sansevieria boncel variety. Also known as spear orchid or skyline spear, it features fat, short, cylindrical leaves.

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Mature Sansevieria cylindrica plants may produce cream-white flower spikes that are lightly fragrant. While not particularly showy, they add a touch of enjoyment to the plant.

Sansevieria Cylindrica Care

Sansevieria cylindrica is an incredibly resilient plant that can withstand extreme conditions. However, if you want your plant to thrive and look elegant, you need to meet its specific requirements.

Light & Temperature

While this plant can tolerate low light conditions, it prefers plenty of sun and bright light to grow well. Placing it near a north-facing window or using sheer curtains is a great idea. When grown outdoors, provide it with bright light and some shade during the hottest parts of the day. This will help it survive and take advantage of a longer growing season.

Since the plant naturally grows in hot and dry areas, it doesn’t appreciate cold temperatures. Anything below 50 °F (10 °C) can be too much for the plant and cause cold damage. Room temperature is ideal, and it can tolerate mild temperature fluctuations.

Water & Humidity

Sansevieria cylindrica is drought-tolerant and doesn’t require frequent watering. During the summer growing season, watering once a week is sufficient. Make sure the soil is well-draining and dries out before the next watering. Wet soil can lead to root rot. If you notice yellow leaves or mushy, soft bases, you’ve overwatered the plant.

In winter, water once a month or whenever the soil has completely dried out.

Humidity isn’t a major concern for these plants. They thrive in dry air with good aeration, as long as there aren’t any drafts.

Sansevieria Cylindrica Soil

For optimal growth, Sansevieria cylindrica requires a cactus potting mix that drains quickly. The plant cannot tolerate a soggy potting medium, as it can lead to fatal consequences. Grow it in well-draining sandy soil enriched with peaty compost that does not retain water.

Sansevieria Cylindrica Fertilizer

Feed the plant with a succulent fertilizer once a month during the spring through fall. Make sure to dilute it to half the recommended strength, as Sansevieria cylindrica is a light feeder. Avoid fertilizing during winter when growth is slow.

If you prefer, you can also improve the soil with an organic granular fertilizer.

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Repotting Sansevieria Cylindrica

Sansevieria cylindrica is generally a slow grower, especially in low light conditions. Therefore, it won’t require repotting for several years. However, if your plant becomes overcrowded or outgrows its pot, it’s time to consider repotting. Spring is the ideal time for repotting.

Choose a container that is one size larger than the previous one. Since this plant is top-heavy, a wider container is best. Give the plant some time to settle into its new pot before watering regularly. Water sparingly until the plant has adjusted.

Sansevieria Cylindrica 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, understand that it grows through rhizomes. It produces runners or offshoots that can be untangled and separated using a sharp knife or blade. Wait until the stalks are at least 6 inches tall before separating the snake plants and potting them individually.

Leaf cuttings can also be used for propagation. Use 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. Make sure the leaf cuttings are at least 2 to 4 inches tall and planted upright for proper growth.

Pruning African Spear

Sansevieria plants generally don’t require pruning unless for cosmetic purposes. If you notice a yellowing leaf, you can trim it at the base using pruning shears.

Sansevieria cylindrica is a popular ornamental houseplant because of its easy cultivation and care requirements. That’s why it’s favored by busy home gardeners who want low-maintenance plants.


African spear plants don’t face many issues unless they’re placed in improper conditions. Here are some problems you might encounter while caring for Sansevieria cylindrica:

Growing Problems

While African spear plants are tough and thrive on neglect, they require well-draining containers. Most growing problems with this plant are usually related to overwatering. Soggy soil, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, and inadequate light can result in growth problems that may turn lethal. If you notice rotting roots and yellowing leaves due to excessive watering, cut away the healthy part of the plant and repot it.


Sansevieria cylindrica is susceptible to vine weevil attacks. These pests eat away the edges of the leaves, causing irreversible damage to the plant. If you spot an adult weevil, immediately drench the potting mixture with neem oil or a suitable pesticide. However, if the roots have been significantly damaged, the plant may be beyond saving.

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Sansevieria cylindrica plants are unlikely to be affected by diseases. They may occasionally suffer from fungal infections due to root rot. Treat these infections with fungicides and ensure the soil is well-draining and not kept overly wet.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

A: This is likely due to insufficient sunlight or if the plant is consistently placed in a dark location. Move your plant to a spot where it can receive bright filtered sunlight to ensure normal growth.

Q: My African spear plant’s leaves are curling. How can I prevent this?

A: Curling leaves are usually a result of under-watering during summers. While the plant doesn’t appreciate excessive water, it’s also important to avoid leaving the soil completely dry for extended periods.

Q: Is Sansevieria cylindrica poisonous to cats?

A: Yes, the plant contains poisonous saponins that can cause mild sickness in cats. Keep your pets away from it as a precaution.

Q: Can Sansevieria cylindrica survive in low light?

A: Absolutely! That’s what makes it such a great plant for your home. Sansevieria cylindrica is incredibly tolerant of little to no light.

Q: How big can Sansevieria cylindrica grow?

A: African spear plants can reach up to 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Q: Does the cylindrical snake plant need sunlight?

A: It thrives in bright, indirect light. Try to avoid direct sunlight, especially during the intense afternoon sun.

Q: Can you cut Sansevieria cylindrica?

A: Yes, you can. Remove dead or diseased leaves as needed, and use healthy cut leaves for propagation.

Q: Can I put a snake plant in a room with no windows?

A: Absolutely! This plant is one of the most tolerant of low-light conditions.

Now that you have all the care tips and information about African spear plants, you can confidently bring this unique and stunning houseplant into your home or garden. Enjoy the beauty and easy care of Sansevieria cylindrica!