A Beginner’s Guide to the African Spear Plant

A Beginner’s Guide to the African Spear Plant

The African Spear Plant, scientifically known as Sansevieria cylindrica, and also commonly referred to as the cylindrical snake plant, is a succulent plant native to Angola. With its striking, tube-like leaves that grow vertically, forming a pattern reminiscent of a spear, it has gained popularity in homes and offices for both its aesthetic appeal and low-maintenance nature. Perfect for beginners, this guide will walk you through the essentials of caring for your African Spear Plant.

Understanding Your African Spear Plant

The African Spear Plant is prized for its hardiness and adaptability. It is a member of the genus Sansevieria, which is well-known for its air-purifying capabilities. This plant converts CO2 into oxygen even at night, making it an excellent bedroom companion. The leaves of the plant are typically green with some slight variation or striping and can grow several feet tall, given the right conditions.

Light Requirements

One of the key aspects of African Spear Plant care is understanding its light requirements. Ideally, place your plant in indirect sunlight. While it can tolerate low light conditions, its growth may be stunted in such environments. Conversely, avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves. If you’re positioning your plant near a window, a sheer curtain can provide the perfect filter for the right amount of light.

Watering Your Plant

As with many succulents, the African Spear Plant is drought-tolerant. This plant prefers to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which is the most common issue people face with the Sansevieria cylindrica. During the growing season (spring and summer), water your plant every few weeks, but always check the soil before adding more water. In the winter, reduce watering to once every month or less.

Soil and Potting

Good drainage is crucial for the health of your African Spear Plant. Use a well-draining potting mix, ideally one formulated for cacti or succulents, to avoid water accumulation at the root. Pot choice is also important; choose a container with adequate drainage holes. Repotting should occur every couple of years or when the plant has outgrown its current pot. Be gentle when handling the roots to minimize stress on the plant.

Temperature and Humidity

This durable plant has no significant humidity requirements and can thrive in typical home environments. However, it prefers temperatures between 60°F and 85°F (15°C – 29°C). Protect your African Spear Plant from drafts and avoid exposure to temperatures below 50°F (10°C), as cold weather can damage the leaves.

Feeding Your Plant

Fertilization is not a frequent requirement for the African Spear Plant, but you can feed it with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength every 3-4 months during the growing season. Refrain from fertilizing in the dormant winter months to avoid stressing the plant with excess nutrients it cannot use during this time.


Propagation is a rewarding way to create more African Spear Plants for your space or to share with friends. The plant can be propagated by dividing the root ball during repotting or by taking cuttings of the leaves, which can then be placed in water or soil to root. Leaf cuttings should be taken with care, making sure to cut at a slight angle and allow the cut end to callous over before planting.

Common Pests and Problems

While generally resilient, the African Spear Plant can sometimes fall prey to common houseplant pests such as spider mites or mealybugs. Isolate the plant to prevent the spread to other houseplants and treat it with an appropriate insecticide or neem oil. Preventive measures include regular dusting or wiping down of the leaves to remove pests and debris and to ensure the plant can breathe and photosynthesize efficiently.


The African Spear Plant’s unique shape and effortless maintenance make it a favorite among plant enthusiasts, especially those who are just starting to explore the world of indoor gardening. With proper care, these hardy plants can live for many years, offering both beauty and improved air quality to your living space. Remember – bright, indirect light, infrequent watering, and well-draining soil are all key to your African Spear Plant’s success.

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