Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

January 10, 2015

African Spear Plant (Sansevieria Cylindrica) planted outdoors in Phoenix, Arizona

My African Spear Plant (Sansevieria Cylindrica) did just fine during its first summer, and winter, here in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. It really is a beautiful plant. It was given to me by a fellow member of the Palm and Cycad Association of Arizona, who has a great enthusiasm for Sansevierias. I talked to him today, and hadn't realized that these plants are not commonly sold, although I can't imagine why. If you have the opportunity to get one, and have a good place in your garden for it, I recommend that you do so. I'll tell you where mine is, which is doing great, and why I think that's working so well for the plant.

I have the plant in what I call a *transitional area* in the garden. It not full sun, but it gets more sun than the, uh, shadier areas of the garden. It's also on a slight slope, with free-draining soil, and has its own dedicated watering head (hidden back there behind the rocks). It never got sunburn last summer, although you could have fried an egg on the ground next to it, and it didn't suffer any frost damage during the recent cold snap, which got to below freezing. I did put socks on the tips when it was really cold, but since it's planted under an overhang of an olive tree, it looks like that wasn't even necessary. The elephant food there at the lower left, was uncovered and didn't get any frost damage, while the elephant food that was out in the open was killed by frost.

Socks protecting the tips of a Sansevieria Cylindrica from frost
I discovered that when you plant them, you should be sure to have it facing correctly. This plant is meant to be seen from this angle, and when you stand on the flagstone at left, you are looking at it edge-wise, which isn't quite as attractive.

If you look very carefully in front of it, you can see a pup forming. Since these are not easy plants to buy, I will cultivate the pup with care, and transplant it in warmer weather. Like agaves, my personal preference is to not have a lot of pups (offshoots) around, so I trim them off regularly and plant them elsewhere. I really don't like clumps of plants, as to me it looks messy and neglected. My garden is tamed!

By the way, my expert tells me that in the wild, these plants grow so big and thick that are called *rhino stoppers* - even rhinos won't go through them. Good to know!
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