Sansevieria Zeylanica Care Guide for Beginners
Sansevieria Zeylanica is an easy-to-care indoor plant that thrives on neglect – perfect for busy indoor plant enthusiasts.
- is one of the quintessential variants in the snake plant family
- grows best in indirect bright light, warm temperatures, and low humidity
- can easily be propagated through cuttings or division.
Sansevieria Zeylanica Quick Care Summary
|Only water when soil is dry
|A position that receives plenty of bright indirect light
|50-95° Fahrenheit (10-35° Celsius)
|Low to Medium Humidity
|All-purpose houseplant fertilizer at the beginning of Spring
|Loamy well-draining soil
Getting to Know Sansevieria Zeylanica
To be competent snake plant owners, we must understand their roots (excuse the pun). Now we’re not talking about their actual roots (that’s in the next section). In this section, we are discussing where they originate from.
Scientific Name: Sansevieria Zeylanica
Common Name(s): Ceylon Bowstring Hemp, Devil’s Tongue, Mother-in-law’s tongue, Zeylanica Snake Plant
Like other common snake plants, the Sansevieria Zeylanica originates from Africa. It grows naturally in dry arid areas on the continent, such as Madagascar. It has even been found in remote places in South Asia.
When you hear someone mention snake plant, it is likely that images of the Sansevieria Zeylanica pop into your head. Besides the Sansevieria Trifasciata, the Zeylanica is the quintessential image of a snake plant.
They have long, broad sword-shaped leaves that grow vertically with the beautiful zig-zag variegated patterns running horizontally across the leaves.
The colorations also embody the typical colors of a snake plant – with a dark bottle green base covered with lighter green stripes.
Some Zeylanica sport yellow edging along the outside of the leaves, which adds emphasis to their beauty.
The Sansevieria Zeylanica isn’t overly tall for a snake plant, growing to approximately 2-4 feet tall (60-121 centimeters) at maturity.
Sansevieria Zeylanica Flowers
Snake plants do flower, but only on rare occasions. Conditions need to be optimal for them to bloom; even then, they do not flower annually. Consider yourself fortunate if your Zeylanica produces flowers, and take plenty of pictures because you don’t know when the next time will be.
The Sansevieria Zeylanica flowers look like little bushels of fireworks in suspended animation and develop on stalks that grow from the base of the snake plant. The flowers generally take on a cream to off-white color.
Sansevieria Zeylanica Detailed Care Instructions
This section will build upon the care summary at the beginning of the guide. We’ll explore why the Sansevieria Zeylanica requires these specific care requirements and provide links to more detailed resources.
Allow the soil to dry before adding more water to your Sansevieria Zeylanica.
Earlier, we mentioned that Zeylanica could be neglected. However, that doesn’t mean you can forget about them. They still require regular water top-ups. However, the frequency changes each season. For guidance on seasonal water frequency, check out our article HERE.
Provide your Sansevieria Zeylanica with plenty of bright indirect sunlight. Indoor Zeylanica can tolerate sunlight. However, only in short doses. Midday and afternoon sun is too intense for indoor snake plants and will quickly dehydrate the leaves, causing leaf burn.
However, when grown outdoors, the Sansevieria Zeylanica becomes hardened to the weather elements and has higher tolerances for direct sunlight.
Read more HERE for tips on lighting conditions for snake plants.
As succulents originate from African climates, your Sansevieria Zeylanica will thrive in warm weather.
The recommended indoor temperature for Zeylanica is between 50-90° Fahrenheit (10-32° Celsius).
We caution all snake plant owners to be careful of extreme temperatures. Water expands when frozen. This means the water reserves in the Zeylanica leaves can freeze, causing irreparable damage to the leaf cells.
If your area is susceptible to frost or freezing temperatures in winter, we recommend bringing your snake plants inside the house, where the temperatures will remain in a safe temperature zone.
Keep your Sansevieria Zeylanica in between 30 and 50% relative humidity.
Humidity can be challenging to control. However, it is essential for regulating your snake plant’s internal processes, like transpiration.
When there is not enough moisture in the air (low humidity), it accelerates the transpiration process, which quickly dehydrates your plant and causes water stress.
At the other extreme, too much moisture (high humidity) will prevent transpiration, and your Sansevieria Zeylanica will suffocate.
We have written an in-depth article discussing how humidity affects snake plants.
Soil & Fertilizer Requirements
The properties of the soil you use for your Sansevieria Zeylanica can have profound effects on the health of your houseplant.
Choosing the best soil for your Sansevieria Zeylanica can significantly impact your plant parent experience. Quality soil will reduce the frequency of your watering, facilitate the uptake of nutrients by your snake plant, and reduce its susceptibility to pests and disease.
To be effective, your snake plant soil must be:
- a sandy loam consistency (light and airy), and
- contain some organic materials with water absorption properties.
We have devised a recipe for the perfect snake plant potting mix. You can also watch our video on making snake plant soil below.
Pest and Diseases
If there is one disease that you should familiarise yourself with for your Sansevieria Zeylanica, it is root rot.
Root rot is a fungal disease that can develop when your snake plant has been sitting in waterlogged soil from being overwatered. The process of eliminating root rot is straightforward. However, it is onerous. You can read our step-by-step guide for removing root rot in snake plants HERE.
Some leaf-borne fungal diseases can infect your Zeylanica, such as mildew and leaf spot. We explore these diseases and (more importantly) treatments HERE.
Snake plants are most susceptible to sap-sucking insects like mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips. These pests have the equipment to penetrate the tough outer layer of the foliage and access the nutrient-rich sap.
The best way to detect any signs of pests (or disease, for that matter) is to regularly inspect your potted plants and manually remove any pests you see. The key is not letting their population get out of hand, becoming an infestation.
You can read more about symptoms of pest infestation HERE.
Sansevieria Zeylanica, like other snake plants, requires a tight root system to support its large leaves.
When placed in a container too large for their root system, they will refocus their energy on developing the roots rather than growing new leaves. While they are still growing (under the soil), they will appear to be experiencing stunted growth.
Your snake plant pot should also have adequate drainage with plenty of drainage holes. As we pointed out earlier, constantly moist soil rots your Sansevieria Zeylanica’s root system.
Sansevieria Zeylanica Propagation Techniques
There are many ways to propagate Zeylanica snake plants. We like to use the water propagation technique from healthy leaf cuttings. It is a quick and straightforward method for propagating snake plants. Propagating cuttings with water will ensure rapid growth. Plus, you can propagate multiple cuttings at once.
To propagate by plant cutting, follow these steps:
- Identify and Cut Leaf – Choose a leaf that looks healthy and vibrant with no visible signs of pests or disease. Selecting the right leaf will give it the best opportunity for success. Cut the leaf towards the base with a sterilized pair of garden scissors (or a sharp knife). We like to use an upside-down V cut (or an arrowhead-shaped cut) for snake plants, as it will naturally prop the cutting up in your container, which will help to prevent rot from setting in. It also helps to prevent new roots from growing at unhelpful angles (usually with straight cuts).
- Air Dry Your Cutting – Allow your cutting to dry for 2-4 days in a safe place so that it doesn’t accidentally get knocked to the ground. Air drying your cutting allows the wound to form a callous, which helps to prevent any rot or disease from developing.
- Find a Container – find a tall and thin container to support your snake plant leaf cutting. We like to use glass containers like mason jars or small vases. The glass allows you to examine your cutting without disturbing it (such as lifting it out of the water to see if roots are growing).
- Begin the Rooting Process – The final step is to piece everything together. Place your cutting in the container and fill it with distilled water so the bottom third of the cutting is submerged. It is essential to ensure the calloused wound is beneath the water line to encourage root growth.
We strongly recommend using filtered or distilled water for the propagation process. Tap water may have chemicals that inhibit the propagation process.
Sansevieria Zeylanica – Common Questions
What is the difference between Sansevieria Zeylanica and Trifasciata?
Although not apparent initially, some subtle differences exist between the Sansevieria Zeylanica and Sansevieria Trifasciata.
Height is one difference that differentiates the two snake plants. Zeylanica (4 ft) generally grows slightly taller than the Trifasciata (3 ft).
The colors on the leaves are the other way to tell the two apart. It is subtle. However, the Zeylanica sports more white variegated patterns and edging. In contrast, the Trifasciata has a more yellow hue to the patterns.