What Do We Know About The ‘African Spear’ Plant? Sansevieria Cylindrica Care A-Z

Family Asparagaceae
GenusDracaena
SpeciesD. angolensis
Other NamesCylindrical snake plant, Spear Sansevieria, Saint Barbara Sword
Sunlight Full sunlight, partial sunlight
Temperature 18C to 26C (recommended)
Growth SeasonSummer
Climate Hot and dry weather.
PropagationEasily propagated from cuttings and divisions
Height3 to 6 feet tall for mature species
Width1 – 2 feet (mature)
Water Minimum water use. 
OthersToxic to both pets and humans. Used in Feng-Shui oriented interiors

The African spear succulent is a popular ornamental succulent mostly grown indoors due to its ease of growth and maintenance.

It needs little to no hand-holding and is incredibly hardy with an innate ability to withstand extended periods without watering or care.

While we recommend the African Spear for beginner succulent enthusiasts, you don’t have to be a beginner to enjoy its dark-green, long, smooth, cylindrical leaves. Even experienced succulent growers consider the Sansevieria Cylindrica a must-have in their succulent collection.

The moniker “African Spear” comes from:

  1. Its native country of Angola, which, as you’ve probably guessed by now, is in central Africa.
  2. The shape of its leaves, which are stiff, long, and cylindrical, tapering to a sharp point at their apex, mimics the appearance of a spear.

DID YOU KNOW?

A Czech naturalist, botanist, and botanical illustrator, Wenceslas Bojer was the first person to describe the African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica) in 1837.

african spear plant potted
Photo by Pinterest

Features Of The African Spear

Leaves

Without a doubt, the unique and defining aspect of this particular succulent is its leaves.

The African Spear’s leaves are upright, long, cylindrical, shooting up from a basal rosette. The succulent forms rosettes underground, producing leaves that shoot up out from the soil, straight, firm.

Ranging in color from dark green to a more greyish-tinted green, they are a treat to have indoors.

A single leaf can reach 7 feet and 3 cm in diameter.

The unique sub-cylindrical shape of the Sansevieria Cylindricas leaves comes from the plants’ failure to express their genes.

Sansevieria Cylindrica got the moniker “African Spear” from its upright, erect shape, which tapers to a sharp, rigid, pointed apex. Please remember to treat the abrupt pointy end with care since any damage to this particular area may cause the leaf to cease growing.

african spear plant leaves
Photo by Unsplash

Sansevieria Cylindrica Flower

The Sansevieria Cylindrica produces a 3-foot spike from the base of its leaves. While somewhat similar to the leaves surrounding it, this erect spike has one purpose only – to act as a medium for the cylindrical snake plant flower to bloom.

Small, creamy-white flowers will form in tiny clusters all along the length of the spike. As they begin to bloom, the tubular flowers open up, and if you observe, you will notice each flower adopt a pinkish hue as it blooms.        

While the cylindrical snake plant flower may not be the biggest or most colorful among its succulent peers, it has a unique, sweet-smelling, pleasing fragrance.

Sansevieria Cylindrica Care

#1. Light

The African Spear will appreciate a healthy dose of sunlight and temperatures on the higher side. However, remember to give it partial shade during sweltering hours of the day, especially during the summer season. This succulent will grow well outdoors.  

Should you decide to plant it indoors, put it in an area where it can get its fill of direct sunlight. A window sill is an ideal location. If the plant has no natural light access while indoors, you can opt for grow lights. Lights in or around the 200 watts will work well in this case.

While low-light will not harm it, it will drastically slow down its growth rate.

Succulent enthusiasts use this light sensitivity to their advantage: Typically, if you want your African Spear to grow slowly and maintain short leaves, then place it in low-light conditions. In the same manner, if you prefer your Sansevieria Cylindrica with longer tubular leaves, then give this baby as much light as it can take.

#2. Temperature

The African Spear is a hardy plant, and while it can hold its own in some pretty nasty weather, there is a limit to how far you can push it. Anything near or below ten °C will cause irreversible damage to this beautiful succulent so remember to bring your succulent indoors during the winter season.

It’s also important to note that extremely high temperatures will harm the Sansevieria Cylindrica, burn off plant tissue, and dry the leaves.

Generally, 18°C to 26°C is considered ideal for the Sansevieria Cylindrica to thrive.

#3. Water

The African Spear’s watering schedule is dictated by its growing season. 

What does this mean?

It’s pretty simple. The Sansevieria Cylindrica’s growing season starts during the spring season up until early autumn. During this period of growth, water your Sansevieria Cylindrica at least once a week. Even once every 14 days is fine.

The rule of thumb among succulent enthusiasts is to water only when the earth/soil feels dry to the touch.

Grab a pinch of soil and rub it between your fingers. If it crumbles easily into dry dust, then you have the green light to proceed and water your Sansevieria Cylindrica. However, if the soil feels sticky, muddy, or moist, postpone watering for some time until the ground/earth loses the moisture.

Any experienced succulent grower worth their salt will tell you the number one killer of succulents worldwide is overwatering. A common (and understandable) mistake made by beginners is to water their succulents daily.

Considering the African Spear already has water stored in its thick green leaves, this is a succulent that does not entertain excess watering at all. The extra moisture will put your succulent at risk for the dreaded root rot, but it will also turn the leaves an unhealthy shade of yellow.

#4. Soil

As mentioned above, the African Spear does not appreciate sitting in over-watered, water-logged, swamp-like conditions. Typically, succulents need a soil mix with high drainage and good aeration properties.

Cactus/succulent soil mix is highly recommended for its excellent drainage capabilities and neutral PH value.

You can find cactus soil mix at your nearest gardening store.

Learn how to DIY your planting soil at home: How To Make Your Succulent Soil At Home

Sansevieria Cylindrica Propagation

Sansevieria Cylindrica grows rhizomes, which grow underground just below the soil.

As the plant grows, so do the rhizomes, and they reach a point where they form offshoots. Give your Sansevieria Cylindrica time, and the rhizomes hidden below the ground will spread, developing several nodes along the way.

Propagate your African Spear by digging out these rhizomes, untangling and separating them from the root system, and transplanting it into a new pot. 

The Sansevieria Cylindrica can also be propagated via leaf cuttings.

Snip off a 2–4-inch basal rosette from the underground root/rhizome system and stick it upright in a different container. Remember that it may take the rosette some time to sprout its roots and firmly attach to the soil, so patience is required here.

Fertilization

Even though it is not required, there is nothing wrong with gently fertilizing your African Spear. However, keep in mind that over-fertilization will harm the plant and risk potentially killing it.

To avoid over-fertilization, you should dilute your fertilizer with a 2:1 ratio; 2 parts water and one part fertilizer.

Fertilize your Sansevieria Cylindrica once every 30 days – anything more could negatively affect the plant.

Repotting

Sansevieria Cylindrica is classified as a slow-growing succulent. Don’t be fooled by its initial small size; this succulent can reach 6 feet in height and+ 2 feet wide.

While you may not need to repot it initially, its initial growing pot may get too tiny and cramped after years.

The best time to repot Sansevieria Cylindrica is during the spring season.

When repotting your African Spear, we recommend planting a pot with a broad base and a low center of gravity. Not only good-looking, but it will also keep the plant’s long leaves from tipping the pot over.

Check out the Succulent City Facebook Page to share tips, tricks, and inspiration from fellow succulent lovers from across the globe!

Pests

While cultivating Sansevieria Cylindrica, the most common pest you’re likely to encounter is the vine weevil.

These pesky critters love nibbling on the edges of the succulent leaves; however, a dose of horticultural oil should take care of these irritating bugs.

It is important to note that horticultural oil will work only if the vine weevils attack the leaves above-ground. If the vine-weevils manage to penetrate underground and begin chewing on the Sansevieria Cylindrica’s root system, the damage may be irreversible.

Do you have problems with pests? Check out this article: Best Pest Control For Succulents

african spear plant planted outside
Photo by Pinterest

Toxicity

We cannot finish without talking about the elephant in the room – the toxic quality of Sansevieria Cylindrica.

Plants develop toxicity as a natural means of defense, and the African Spear is no different. This succulent hides a deadly secret beneath its slick, long, one-of-a-kind leaves.

Botanical experts have classified all parts of Sansevieria Cylindrica as toxic. The underground stems (rhizomes) from the leaves to the flowers and root system.

Symptoms of this toxin include but aren’t limited to vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pains.

Due to this succulent being labeled as toxic, you should keep it out of reach of children and pets.

While the toxin isn’t fatal, we advise immediate medical intervention should any part of Sansevieria Cylindrica be ingested.

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Posted in Guides & Care Tips