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Sansevieria zeylanica (Ceylon Bowstring Hemp)


Scientific Name

Sansevieria zeylanica (L.) Willd.

Common Names

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp, Devil's Tongue, Snake Plant, Zeylanica Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law's Tongue


Aloe Hyacinthoides var. zeylanica

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Crassuloideae
Genus: Sansevieria


Sansevieria zeylanica is a succulent plant with sword-shaped, dark green leaves with large white spots. The leaves are up to 2.5 feet (75 cm) long and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Flowers are pale green and appear on a flowering stem that grows up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall.

The specific epithet "zeylanica" means "of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)."

Sansevieria zeylanica - Ceylon Bowstring Hemp

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How to Grow and Care

Place Sansevierias in moderately bright or filtered light. Good locations include a spot in front of a north-facing window or front of a bright, sunny window covered by a sheer curtain. Although the plant tolerates low light, bright light brings out the colors in the leaves. However, intense light may cause the edges of the leaves to turn yellow.

Allow the soil to dry completely before watering and then water deeply until water drips through the drainage hole. Allow the pot to drain, and then discard the water that remains in the saucer. Never allow the soil to become soggy and never let the pot stand in water. Water sparingly throughout the winter. Like most succulent plants that store water in their leaves, Sansevieria rots quickly in excessively wet soil.

Place Sansevieria in average room temperatures. Protect the plant from drafts and cold temperatures as it is damaged at temperatures below 50 °F (10 °C).

Feed the plant once every three weeks throughout the summer. Use a general-purpose fertilizer for houseplants diluted to one-half of the strength suggested on the container. Sansevieria is a light feeder, and too much fertilizer makes the leaves fall over. See more at How to Grow and Care for Sansevieria.


Native to the drier areas of Sri Lanka.


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