Sansevieria Zeylanica: Ceylon Bowstring Hemp Snake Plant Care

Key Takeaways

  • Sansevieria zeylanica is a popular snake plant that is often known as Ceylon bowstring hemp.
  • As with other snake plants, they are low-maintenance, resilient houseplants and make great home decor plants because of their vibrant green and yellow-trimmed leaves.
  • They are very robust houseplants and will last a long time if you do the following:
    • Temperature: Sansevieria zeylanica does best in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and in USDA hardiness zones 9–11.
    • Sunlight: It enjoys bright indirect sunlight or partial shade to get its daily light requirements.
    • Water: Water your plant every 1-2 weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity levels.

Sansevieria zeylanica, often known as Ceylon bowstring hemp, is a type of snake plant. It is an excellent choice for gardeners searching for a low-maintenance, resilient houseplant.

This snake plant, which originated in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and India, is a fantastic addition to any indoor or outdoor setting.

It not only requires little watering and care, but it can also grow in a variety of lighting conditions, making it a great houseplant for any indoor or outdoor setting. 

In this article, we will discuss how to properly care for Sansevieria zeylanica snake plants so that they remain healthy and happy.

What is a Sansevieria Zeylanica Plant?

A Sansevieria zeylanica plant is a drought-tolerant succulent plant that can be grown as a houseplant.

These plants are stemless flowering plants, and most owners grow them solely for their foliage because they do not bloom flowers regularly. However, when it does, the flowers are fragrant and greenish-white in color.

Sansevieria Zeylanica Leaves

Sansevieria zeylanica has a rugged appearance due to scarring on the leaves and brown edges.

Similar to other snake plants, they have dark and light green shaded pointy tips, almost sword-like, and wavy edges, giving them their famous snake-like appearance.

The length of each leaf can reach up to 2.5 feet, but keep in mind that they are relatively slow-growing houseplants.

Related reading on how fast snake plants grow:

Lastly, the leaves of Sansevieria zeylanica are known to purify the air from harmful toxins like benzene and formaldehyde.

To make sure the snake plants actively purify the air, remove any dust sitting on the long leaves.

Origins of the Sanseveria Zeylanica

Native to Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka) and India, it is also known as Ceylon bowstring hemp or mother-in-law’s tongue and belongs to the Asparagaceae family.

Since ancient times, many cultures have grown them for food, medicine, and decoration. But today, they make great houseplants as they are low-maintenance and add to your home’s decor or curb appeal.

They are easy to care for and thrive with regular watering and feeding. If you give them enough space, like a patio or side of the house, they will thrive. Just remember, they can’t handle frosty weather, so you may have to bring them inside during the winter.

Read on to find out how to care for the Sansevieria zeylanica snake plant.

How to Care for Sansevieria Zeylanica Plants


Sansevieria zeylanica plants are easy-care plants, and their low-maintenance nature makes them a perfect pick for new gardeners.

Even though they can survive being ignored, you still need to make sure they have the right conditions to grow.

Read further for some basic tips on how to care for Sansevieria zeylanica plants.

Temperature and Climate

Sansevieria zeylanica does best in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and if grown outside, it is best if you live in USDA hardiness zones 9–11.

The Bowstring Hemp plant can handle a few hours of cold weather, but temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) are not good because the leaves will get frost damage.

It prefers moderate humidity, but if you notice the tips are turning brown, you can mist the foliage once in a while.

When growing snake plants indoors, it’s best to keep a tray filled with pebbles and water near them. This will maintain moderate humidity around the plant.



Sansevieria zeylanica needs bright indirect sunlight or partial shade to meet its light requirements.

It can withstand direct sunlight for only a few hours per day; however, too much exposure can cause leaf burning or yellowing of the leaves.

These plants are highly hardy and can survive in low-light circumstances; nevertheless, they will not grow if left in low-light conditions for a lengthy period of time.

Low Light

Sansevieria zeylanica plants can grow in places with low light because they can adjust to being in the shade.

If you want to grow it indoors, it should be kept near a sunny window to receive bright, filtered sunlight, partial shade, or indirect sunlight.

However, you should note that plants grown in low light will result in their foliage turning dark green.

On the other hand, bowstring hemp that is kept outside will get more light, so the leaves may lose their color due to more sun exposure.

In addition, if your plant is in full sun, long, continuous exposure will turn the leaf margins yellow. You should be careful, as these are the first signs of skin scorching.


Make sure you water the Sansevieria zeylanica slowly and deeply. Water your plant every 1-2 weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity levels.

However, note that less is more when it comes to watering your Sansevieria zeylanica.

Your best bet is to let the soil dry out between waterings, and don’t let too much water build up in the pot.

As an indoor plant, it should be watered until the excess water starts dripping from the drainage hole.

In contrast, plants that are outside should be watered until the top 3–4 inches of soil are moist.

Excess water can result in root rot and other problems like yellowing leaves.

To help avoid extra water in the soil, use a pot with good drainage. If you need to, you can drill more holes in the bottom of the pot so that any extra water can drain quickly.


Sansevieria zeylanica prefers soil that drains quickly and is slightly acidic. Adding organic material, like compost or peat moss, or inorganic soil amendments, like perlite, to the soil will help it drain better and give it important nutrients.

Soil amendments will help in different ways, but it gives a boost to potting soil by getting the roots more air and helping them absorb water and nutrients better.

Further, without good drainage, root rot can be caused by too much water and not enough drainage.

Lastly, this snake plant likes soil with a pH of 6-7 – which is usually the case with most potting soils out in the market.


The best time to fertilize your Sansevieria zeylanica is in during its growing season which happens from spring through summer.

We think it is important to choose a fertilizer that contains slow-release components.

Slow-release fertilizers are carefully engineered to feed plants with the necessary nutrients gradually over time.

This helps a lot in avoiding overfertilization of your plant. Overfertilization is a very real danger as it can cause nutrient burn from too much nutrition.

This is particularly important when wintertime comes. During this time your plant is dormant and not growing, so fertilizer is not needed.

Slow-release fertilizers also guarantee that your Sansevieria zeylanica receives a consistent supply of nutrients during its active development cycle, resulting in larger and healthier plants.

Sansevieria zeylanica is a light-feeding plant. They don’t require much in the way of fertilizer. A monthly application of half-strength or lower-strength general-purpose plant fertilizer is sufficient.



Most Sansevieria zeylanica plants should be replanted every two to three years. However, if the plant has grown root-bound or top-heavy, repotting may be necessary more frequently.

Examine the roots of your plant for symptoms of overcrowding or illness, as well as soil compaction, to decide when it needs to be replanted. If you discover one of these problems in the pot, it’s time to transfer and repot your plant in a larger container.

When choosing a pot, make sure it has sufficient drainage holes so that any excess water can flow.

This plant prefers staying root-bound, but if many leaves are yellowing or falling off, you will have to repot it.

Read our related post for further details on when and how to repot snake plants.

Sansevieria Zeylanica Propagation

Sansevieria zeylanica is best propagated via the leaf-cutting method.

You can utilize the leaves collected during pruning or take a few inches long of healthy leaf cuttings from the plant.

Let the cutting dry for one day and dip the lower end in a rooting hormone.

Now plant these cuttings in a well-draining soil mixture and water the snake plant when the soil is completely dry.

Further more information on propagating snake plants, read our related post:


Pruning Sansevieria zeylanica plants can help them stay healthy, but the good news is that they don’t require much pruning.

When do you prune your snake plant?

Prune your Sansevieria zeylanica plants every 2–3 months to foster new growth while removing old leaves. If your bowstring hemp plant seems a little crowded or cramped, you can prune one or two leaves with pruning shears.

Also, when you notice there are dead or yellowing leaves.

In addition, pruning is also necessary to get rid of damaged leaves. If you see the tips turn brown or yellow, it’s a good idea to trim them off. However, if the entire leaf is damaged, you will have to trim it at the soil level.

Careful not to let the cut-off dead or broken leaves touch your plant or even neighboring plants as these dead leaves may harbor pests or illnesses that could spread to other parts of the plant or other plants nearby.

A pair of sharp pruning shears is the ideal instrument to use when pruning Sansevieria zeylanica plants.

On the plus side, the healthy leaves or cuttings can be propagated to start a new bowstring hemp plant.


What is the difference between Sansevieria Laurentii and Sansevieria Zeylanica?

Sansevieria Laurentii is a tall, upright plant with dazzling yellow stripes along with strappy, bright green leaves that run perpendicular to the yellow lines that create a wave of alternating green shades of color. On the other hand, Sansevieria Zeylanica has a similar shape, but its horizontal rippling stripes alternate in tones of silver and grayish-green. Another minor distinction is that Sansevieria Zeylanica grows slowly, while Laurentii grows moderately.

How tall do Sansevieria Zeylanica grow?

A mature Sansevieria Zeylanica plant grows slowly to about 2 to 3 feet in height and 1 foot wide. The plant’s leaves can grow as long as 36–40 inches. 

Is a Bowstring Hemp plant poisonous?

Bowstring hemp plants are poisonous. All of the parts of a snake plant are mildly toxic. Eating it will cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritation, and drooling. So, please keep the Sansevieria Zeylanica away from pets and small children. 

Other Sanseviera (Snake Plants) to Consider

Many homes and offices now choose to be greener, which means that more plants are grown inside.

The Sansevieria Zeylanica Snake Plant would make a great choice for the home or office because of its low water requirements and ease of care.

In addition, Bowstring Hemp Snake plants have attractive foliage and attractive purple and green variegation to spruce up any home decor—they even have the ability to filter toxins in the air.

If you are looking for an indoor houseplant, you need to add this snake plant to your collection.

However, there are many other species of Sansevieria (snake plants) to consider. Read our related posts for more ideas on other types of snake plants.


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