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How to Care for Sansevieria Zeylanica


The Sansevieria Zeylanica, a native to Sri Lanka, is a perennial evergreen best known for its tall, sword-shaped leaves with pointed tips. These narrow green leaves have striking wavy, white stripes. Because of the tough fibers derived from the leaves, the Sansevieria Zeylanica is widely known as the bowstring hemp. And like other hemp varieties, this type enjoys vast popularity among novice and experienced plant enthusiasts because of its beauty and resilience.

Sansevieria Zeylanica (left) vs. Trifasciata (right)


Sansevieria Zeylanica vs Trifasciata

Due to the two-toned coloring on its leaves, the Sansevieria Zeylanica is sometimes mistaken for a similar species called the Sansevieria Trifasciata. Though closely related, you’ll find a few differences in the patterns and sizes of the leaves. The Zeylanica, for example, has pale, horizontal stripes, and its leaves are long and narrow. The Trifasciata, on the other hand, has short, wide leaves with a yellow border around the edges. 

They also differ in height and growth rate, with Zeylanica reaching 4 feet and the Trifasciata topping out at 3 feet. Plus, the Trifasciata doesn’t grow as quickly as the Zeylanica. And while both varieties tend to clump, the Zeylanica sprawls out more than the Trifasciata.

Sansevieria Laurentii vs Zeylanica

Check out our article on Sansevieria Laurentii for the comparison of Sansevieria Laurentii vs Zeylanica.

Sansevieria Zeylanica’s Benefits

Like other hemp varieties, this plant variety serves multiple purposes. For instance, if you have concerns about the air quality in your home, the Sansevieria Zeylanica acts as an air purifier by removing impurities such as benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. 

Some of Sansevieria Zeylanica’s other benefits relate to its ease of care. This plant doesn’t need much watering and doesn’t require regular fertilizing or repotting. So, if you have concerns about your green thumb, fear not. This resilient specimen offers a no-fuss, ornamental option both indoors and outdoors.

Lastly, you can extract the sap from the leaves to apply to minor skin irritations but avoid ingesting it since it would cause severe gastrointestinal issues.


Sansevieria Zeylanica requires partial to full sun outdoors. Although this plant is known to thrive in a warm climate, you must be careful about how much sun exposure it gets if you plan on keeping your Sansevieria Zeylanica outdoors. During the summer, the sun’s intense heat might scorch the leaves, causing them to turn yellow around the edges. Also, the leaves will be a brighter green on mature outdoor plants with less of the cream-colored stripes compared to those grown indoors.

On the other hand, if you grow your Sansevieria Zeylanica indoors, you’ll need to expose it to sunlight as much as possible. Don’t worry about situating your plant in a sunny window; the direct sunlight will not scorch it due to the ability to control temperatures indoors. However, you can expect darker green leaves if your bowstring hemp doesn’t get a lot of direct light. 


The bowstring hemp loves moisture in the air but also grows well in semi-arid outdoor conditions. Hence, if you keep your plant outside, especially during the summer when the air is both warm and dry, you might consider providing extra humidity by soaking some mulch and placing it around the base of your plant.

For indoor plants, maintaining ambient humidity is rather simple. You can place a tray of pebbles and water underneath the pot to add extra moisture to the plant’s surroundings.


One additional tip to remember is that the bowstring hemp doesn’t need frequent watering. For the indoor plants, you should saturate the soil but don’t allow them to sit in standing water. If needed, you can place a tray underneath the pot and tilt it to where the excess water pours out from the holes at the bottom.

Regarding outdoor watering, you would pour the water slowly to where it reaches 3 to 4 inches in depth. During the winter, however, the bowstring hemp needs to be watered less frequently since it goes dormant. Once the warm weather starts up again in the spring, you’ll increase the frequency. Overall, the best thing to do is to allow the soil to dry completely before watering.  



With the right amount of moisture and light, the Sansevieria Zeylanica flourishes successfully in moderate temperatures. This means that whether your plant is inside or outside, it requires protection from extreme heat or cold. Likewise, the leaves would sustain damage if exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Hence, if it stays in temperatures between 60 to 75 degrees, the bowstring hemp will thrive. Just don’t forget about the humidity factor. 


Along with moisture in the air and moderate temperatures, the Sansevieria Zeylanica stays healthy in the soil, allowing for adequate drainage. You can opt for a loamy sand mixture to ensure the plant’s success. This type soaks up some moisture while keeping roots from standing in water. 

Therefore, a sandy mix with a pH level of 6 to 7 specially made for succulents will provide the best environment for roots since it drains off quite well. When you combine those soil conditions with a pot that has enough drainage holes, you’ll certainly have a healthy plant. 


Another fortunate aspect of caring for your bowstring hemp is not having to fertilize it regularly. With that in mind, a slow-release granular feeding can be given just once a year in the spring. Other plant owners might fertilize once a month using a half-strength fertilizer, but you might risk providing too much of a good thing and causing the leaves to droop. 

As a side note, fertilizing won’t prompt the Sansevieria Zeylanica to flower, especially if it stays indoors. In rare cases, aromatic, light green blooms occur along with stems that grow over 2 feet tall—regardless of fertilizing.


As mentioned, the leaves of the bowstring can grow to a formidable height, and the plant can spread as far as a foot in width, but the plant’s size doesn’t mean you have to repot it. This plant survives well if it’s a little root bound. Plus, it grows at a slow rate. 

Nevertheless, if the leaves are starting to yellow and/or deteriorate, you will need to move your plant to a bigger pot that’s at least an inch wider than its current container. You start by mixing a sandy loam that will provide adequate drainage in the new container. You then take the plant out of its old pot, carefully loosen the roots, and dust off the old soil. Next, you repot the plant in the new soil at the same depth you first planted it. You might need to water your plant afterward if the soil dried out during the process—but not too much.


If there is just one challenging aspect of growing a bowstring hemp is starting it from seeds. Thus, propagation from leaf clippings is the easiest and most successful method of starting your plant “from scratch.” 

First, take healthy leaf cuttings 2 to 3 inches long and allow them to dry. Next, you’ll dip the bottom ends of the leaves into water and then situate them into a rooting hormone. After that, you’ll plant them in a potting mixture of 1 part peat and 2 parts sand and place them where they’ll receive indirect but bright sunlight. You’ll only need to water your new plant when the soil is almost dry.  



The only downside to keeping a bowstring hemp is having to keep your fur babies away from it. The Sansevieria Zeylanica is not pet friendly, and ingesting the leaves can cause nausea and vomiting in dogs and cats. 

Additionally, you should keep this plant away from toddlers, who might try to grab and chew the leaves. The bowstring needs to go on a high countertop or a tall table, or you may need to rethink this option if you can’t place the plant in a location that’s completely out of reach.

Pests and Diseases

Since too much moisture would be detrimental to the Sansevieria Zeylanica, root rot would be the number one malady that would harm your plant. Fortunately, this condition is entirely preventable if you don’t overwater and ensure the plant has proper drainage.

Very few pests prey upon the bowstring hemp. Nonetheless, you may have to watch out for mealybugs and spider mites drawn to this plant. If you see mealy bugs, you can pick them off or place a small dab of rubbing alcohol on them. For the spider mites, you can increase the humidity temporarily or wash them off the leaves. In the case of either pest, you can also treat the plant with pesticide. 

As you can see, the Sansevieria Zeylanica is a low-maintenance plant that provides an excellent option for the beginning gardener or the individual with a busy lifestyle since the plant is quite resilient. 

If you live in a region where extreme temperatures are rare, the bowstring hemp will add a lovely backdrop to any garden. This is the optimal choice if you’re looking for a decorative houseplant that only requires minimal attention and fits well with any interior design. 

Where to Buy Sansevieria Zeylanica

If you are interested in owning your own Sansevieria Zeylanica or want to check the price, the Sansevieria Zeylanica is available for sale from different sellers on Amazon or Etsy.

Click Here to Check Price on Amazon

Click Here to Check Price on Etsy

If you are interested, we also have articles on other snake plants, Sansevieria Coppertone, Sansevieria Fernwood, Sansevieria Black Gold, and Sansevieria Laurentii.

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