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Ceylon Bowstring Hemp

Sansevieria zeylanica

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Ceylon Bowstring Hemp (Sansevieria zeylanica) at Roger's Gardens

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp (Sansevieria zeylanica) at Roger's Gardens

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  30 inches

Spread:  12 inches

Sunlight:  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  10b

Other Names:  Zeylanica Snake Plant, Mother-In-Law's Tongue


This attractive plant will form dense stands of vertical sword-like leaves, arranged in rosettes; produces silvery-green leaves, mottled and striped with dark green; fragrant light green flowers in spring, on mature plants

Ornamental Features

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp features dainty spikes of fragrant light green spider-like flowers held atop the stems in mid spring. Its attractive large twisted sword-like leaves remain grayish green in color with showy dark green variegation and tinges of silver throughout the year. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp is an herbaceous evergreen tropical plant with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and may require the occasional pruning to look its best. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Rock/Alpine Gardens
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

This plant is native to the tropics and prefers growing in moist environments with evenly warm conditions all year round. In our climate, it is usually grown as an outdoor annual in the garden or in a container. If you want it to survive the winter, it can be brought in to the house and provided with special care, and then returned to the garden the following season. In its preferred tropical habitat, it can grow to be around 30 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. However, when grown as an annual or when overwintered indoors, it can be expected to perform differently, and its exact height and spread will depend on many factors; you may wish to consult with our experts as to how it might perform in your specific application and growing conditions.

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions, but will not tolerate any standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division.

Ceylon Bowstring Hemp is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent  Rock  Container 
Flowers  Foliage Color 
Ornamental Features