Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

African Spear ( Sansevieria cylindrica pathula )




I first saw these on a trip I made to Las Vegas last winter. I thought they were the coolest plant but I couldn’t find out what they were. Then last March I stumbled across them in HD and Lowes in the house plant section. Both stores had them mislabeled as ‘variegated snake plants’. It took quite a bit more digging to find out they are African Spear plants.

This plant grows like a aloe, it starts out with the leaves growing in a fan shape. The leaves are round like a pencil which is what caught my eye when I first saw it. Like an aloe leaves will grow upright when the plant receives enough light and grow horizontal or become floppy if the light is too low.

It prefers drier conditions about like an aloe and lots of sun like an aloe. Any place aloe is happy the African Spear should be as well. It is drought tolerant. In the winter especially it is prone to rot if kept damp.

It can handle short times with temperatures down to 28’F, so it is borderline for Houston and will want protection on colder evenings. But long or frequent freezes will kill this plant. This one died from cold last winter.

It should reach about 5′ tall in full sun. This one has been a very slow grower, I’m not convinced it’ll reach 5′.

I’m told it blooms in warm summers though flowers are unimpressive looking but night fragrant. My kept trying to bloom in the fall and would drop the flowers when the evenings got below 40′.

It spreads by rhizomes but I’m told you can cut off a leaf, stick it in the ground, keep it damp and it will root. I found one person who says you can slice up the leaves and plant the pieces and they will grow. It is interesting how different the young plant looks from a mature plant.

I also read that you will get better color on the plant if you plant it in more shade than sun. That seems counter intuitive. Mine is planted in a shady area so time will tell.