The zebra plant is known for its bright green foliage and unique white to cream-colored leaf patterns. The plant also boasts bright yellow to golden blooms that flower during spring and summer.
This tropical plant will surely elevate your interior aesthetics while providing good indoor air quality, but is a zebra plant easy to grow and care for?
Growing and caring for zebra plants can be a bit challenging. As tropical plants, they need a good deal of light and humidity.
On that account, we’re here to share some helpful tips on how to grow and look after zebra plants. We’ll cover everything from their light to their nutrition needs, so stick around.
Since the zebra plant is native to the Brazilian tropics, growing it indoors can be a challenge. It’s essential to mimic the conditions of its natural habitat so that it can thrive in a closed space such as your home.
With that in mind, you need to be conscious of specific aspects of plant care, from planting your zebra plants in well-draining soil and giving them enough light to fulfilling their water needs.
While zebra plants aren’t the most low-maintenance plants out there, caring for them is easy as long as you know how to meet their needs, and we’re here to show you how!
Read on to learn how to properly care for your zebra plant so that it grows healthy:
Zebra plants prefer filtered sunlight or partial shade. So, if you plant them in a garden, ensure they get the right amount of sunlight and shade.
Ideally, plant your zebra plants in a shady area that gets gentle morning sunlight for at least 6 hours but is shady for the rest of the day.
If you keep your zebra plant indoors, place them in an area that provides an ample amount of filtered sunlight throughout the day. Displaying them by a window with a sheer curtain is best.
Note that it’s crucial to avoid direct sun exposure, especially the scorching afternoon sun, for prolonged periods because it causes zebra plants to wither and die.
Your zebra plants don’t need much water to thrive. Also, there isn’t a specific frequency on how much and how often you should water your zebra plants.
However, keeping the soil moist throughout the week is vital without overwatering. Here’s how to do it:
- Water the plant until the soil is drenched and water leaks from the drainage holes.
- Wait until the upper layer (around 25% of the soil) is dry before watering again.
- Water directly to the soil and avoid overhead watering or using sprayers. These methods promote rots and fungal infestation.
Due to their tropical roots, zebra plants thrive best in moderately hot and humid areas. These plants grow best at room temperature of at least 60°F.
When it comes to humidity, zebra plants prefer a humid environment, as low humidity causes their leaves to turn brown and crispy. Additionally, poor humidity stunts your plant’s growth.
Humidity levels should be maintained between 60 to 70%. You can also use a humidifier and ensure that your plant isn’t exposed to too much air.
Zebra plants grow best in rich, well-draining soil. You can put them in a pot that has adequate drainage holes. The soil pH should also be neutral to acidic.
Meanwhile, planting your zebra plant in highly acidic or alkaline soil impairs its roots’ capacity to absorb nutrients, resulting in a lack of flowers and poor growth.
A multi-purpose potting mix is recommended for zebra plants.
You can also use potting soil mixed with peat moss and perlite. This potting soil encourages healthy growth without compromising moisture and nutrient retention.
Apart from optimal growth, fertilizing your zebra plant helps encourage flowering.
Spring and summer is the active growing season of zebra plants, so it’s best to fertilize them during these times. Feed them a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at least twice a month.
Moreover, avoid fertilizing your plant during winter months because it causes the browning of leaves and poor root structure.
In the wild, zebra plants can grow as much as 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Indoor zebra plants, however, can only grow as much as 2 feet in height and width.
These plants usually have 2-4 stems, with elliptical leaves that are around 6 inches long and up to 3 inches wide.
Zebra plants are slow-growing, so it can take up to 3 years to fully mature or produce flowers. The good news is that you’ll rarely need to repot your zebra plant.
Zebra plants lose leaves because of poor moisture or humidity, temperature fluctuations, and overfeeding. At times, zebra plants also lose bottom leaves due to natural reasons.
Zebra plants usually shed off their bottom leaves after they produce flowers. As a result, they appear leggy and more sculptured.
To grow back the leaves, adjust your care and give your plant the right amount of indirect lighting, humidity, and water. Adjust the fertilizer too.
Meanwhile, you can trim off the plant’s main stem if you want to grow back your zebra plant’s leaves after losing them due to natural causes.
Zebra plants are commonly affected by pests such as aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, and white flies.
You can eliminate these pesky creatures using insecticidal soap or misting your zebra plant with horticultural oil.
At the same time, zebra plants are prone to fungal leaf spots, and this happens due to improper watering.
Directly watering your plant’s soil is essential instead of wetting the leaves or stems by overhead watering or using water sprays.
To get rid of fungal leaf spots, trim off heavily affected leaves or use a copper fungicide.
Yes, the recommended propagation method for zebra plants is through stem cuttings. Here’s how to do it:
Prepare a pot filled with potting mix for your stem cutting. Be sure to moisten the soil in the pot before you add your zebra plant stems.
You can wear a gardening glove to prevent contact with the plant’s sap which is a mild irritant.
After that, use clean and properly disinfected pruning shears (or any sharp cutting tool) to cut stem portions that are 2-3 inches long.
It’s recommended to cut off sections from the side shoots of the zebra plant.
This step is optional, but if you want your zebra plant cutting to grow faster, here’s what you can do!
Moisten the cut ends of the stem cutting with water and blot it to a rooting hormone powder. The rooting hormone stimulates growth and helps your cutting develop roots quickly.
Bury the cut end to the soil and make sure that it’s entirely covered.
Keep the pot in a highly humid area exposed to filtered sunlight. It’s also essential that the temperature is moderately hot, between 60° and 70° F.
To promote humidity, you can cover your propagated plant with a resealable plastic bag. You can also keep it inside a terrarium with a cover.
Also, you can use a heating mat to warm your propagated plant.
Zebra plants are popular house plants from the tropics, so growing them indoors can be pretty challenging. It’s essential to mimic their natural habitat to allow them to grow indoors.
Zebra plants thrive best in a moderately hot and humid environment with lots of indirect sunlight. Also, moist, well-draining soil is ideal, so you need to water them every time the top layer of the soil dries out.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.