Zebra plants have become pretty popular houseplants that people enjoy taking care of. If you’ve just recently started caring for a zebra plant, then you are likely happy with how nice the plant looks.
A good plant like this can really add a lot to the atmosphere of your home, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy to care for. Zebra plants can actually be a little bit picky, and sometimes you might encounter issues when caring for them.
Have you noticed that your zebra plant’s leaves are curling? This is definitely something that you should pay attention to since it could be problematic for the health of the plant.
Keep reading to learn about why a zebra plant might have its leaves curl. You’ll also learn some basics about caring for zebra plants and issues that you need to look out for.
1 – Too Much Sunlight
The most common cause of curling leaves will be giving a zebra plant too much sunlight. Of course, zebra plants need some sunlight to thrive, but giving the plant too much sun exposure can be harmful.
Aside from having the leaves curl, it might also be possible to scorch the leaves if you expose the plant to direct sunlight. These plants do well when you give them bright indirect sunlight, but you shouldn’t place them in direct sunlight since it’ll be too harsh.
Partial shade will be okay for your zebra plants, but you don’t want to keep them in complete shade. If these plants are completely shaded and don’t get enough bright sunlight, then they aren’t going to flower.
When you keep a zebra plant in a dark room, it’s going to have problems over time. A complete lack of sunlight could kill the plant, and it’s definitely not going to look nice if you aren’t giving it the bright light that it needs.
Some wilting could occur if you aren’t helping the plant to meet its sunlight requirements. Try to ensure that you’re giving the plant bright indirect sunlight to make things better.
2 – Temperature Issues
Temperature issues might cause problems for your zebra plant as well. These plants prefer to be kept in temperatures between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
A good temperature setting for the house will be 70 degrees Fahrenheit. So long as the plants are kept in a temperature-controlled environment, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about temperature issues causing the leaves to curl.
During the nighttime hours, the temperatures can get a bit cooler and it won’t negatively impact the plant. Nighttime temperatures can range between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but the plants should be kept away from cold drafts.
Cold drafts and cold temperature swings can cause these plants to react negatively. You might notice wilting and other issues if you keep the plant too close to a drafty window or an air vent.
3 – Humidity Issues
Zebra plants really like high humidity, and you’re going to notice the plants having problems if you place them in dry areas. Sometimes your home will be dry during certain months of the year, and this can make it tough for your zebra plant to thrive.
If you don’t take steps to improve the humidity levels in your home, then the zebra plant might wilt. This could look like its leaves are curling at some point, and that means that humidity issues might be to blame for what’s going on with your plant.
Luckily, it isn’t all that difficult to fix humidity issues in your home. Even during the very dry winter months, it’s going to be possible to increase the humidity levels in your house.
Most plant enthusiasts will buy small humidifiers that they can place in the rooms that they’re keeping houseplants. These little humidifiers can raise the moisture in the room and help your plants to do much better overall.
It might even be beneficial to get a more complex humidifier system for your house, though. Some people like to be able to control the specific humidity levels, and it’s nice to have better humidity in your home if dry weather makes you sick.
The ideal humidity level for zebra plants is said to be between 40% and 80% humidity. It might be best to shoot for 60% or 70% since too much humidity can make it easier for fungal problems to pop up.
Consider whether humidity problems could be contributing to the issues that you’re experiencing with your zebra plant. You can turn things around and make it better with just a bit of effort.
4 – Watering Issues
As with all plants, you’re going to need to make sure that you’re watering a zebra plant properly. These plants are especially sensitive to being underwatered, and you’re going to have to pay attention to them.
During the growing season, it’s imperative to ensure that the soil is kept moist. You don’t want to make the soil soggy, but you should keep the soil moist without letting it dry out too much.
The winter months will be a bit different when it comes to watering your zebra plant. During this season you’ll be waiting a bit longer between watering sessions, and it’s recommended to keep the soil just a bit moist.
When you don’t water the plant enough, wilting and other issues can start to occur. Not watering a zebra plant much at all will possibly kill it, and this could cause wilting, leaf curling, and other similar things that you see when a plant is about to die.
You should be able to get the plant back to normal so long as it hasn’t gone without water for too long. This is a finicky plant in comparison to many other houseplants, but it isn’t too difficult to keep up with it so long as you’re attentive.
Watering a plant too much can cause the plant to wither and rot. Too much water will eventually lead to a condition known as root rot, and it’s unlikely that your zebra plant will come back from that.
Many people water zebra plants too much because of how often they need to be watered. You can’t get overzealous when watering these plants, and you need to be mindful of how moist the soil is.
If you’re watering until the soil is sopping wet, then you’re going way too far. Even during the summer months, you’re just supposed to ensure that the soil is sufficiently moist.
Remember to Use Good Water at the Right Temperature
These plants are so tricky to care for that even using water that isn’t right can have a negative impact. For instance, using cold water might wind up being very bad for the plant because it doesn’t like things getting too cold.
You’ll get much better results if you give the plant lukewarm water because it comes the closest to mimicking what the plant would get in its natural tropical environment. Some enthusiasts recommended using filtered water to be on the safe side as well.
If you’re at all concerned about the water quality in your home, then it will be safer to use filtered water than tap water. Some areas have tap water that contains certain chemicals that could throw off such a sensitive plant.
This might be a bit of a nuisance, but it isn’t going to make things much more difficult for you once you get used to doing things in a particular way. Some people just leave water in a watering can for a while to ensure that it’s lukewarm before they even start watering the plants.
5 – Bad Soil Drainage
Soil drainage issues can lead to problems as well, and this might be preventing your zebra plant from drying out properly after watering sessions. The ideal soil for these plants is rich in nutrients and capable of retaining water while still draining well.
You could make your own potting soil for a zebra plant if you’d like to. Many zebra plant enthusiasts use two parts peat moss, one part coarse sand, and one part garden soil to make an ideal potting mix.
It’s also best for the plant to ensure that the pH balance stays in the moderate acid range of 5.6 to 6.0. This gives the plant the best chance to grow and look healthy.
Soil that doesn’t have good nutrients can cause zebra plants to look a bit unhealthy. This might not cause the leaves to curl, but it can make the plant look worse than it should.
You’re going to want good soil for the sake of raising a healthy plant. If you’re unsure about the soil that you’re currently using, then it might be beneficial to make a good potting mix for your zebra plant to see if it helps.
6 – Using Too Much Fertilizer
It’s even possible that using too much fertilizer could be bad for your zebra plant. There isn’t anything wrong with using fertilizer, but you need to be sure that you’re doing it right and you’re not going overboard.
When you use more fertilizer than you should, it becomes possible for the leaves to show signs of wilting. The leaves toward the bottom of the zebra plant might start to wilt, and they’ll even fall off in some cases.
This is obviously a very bad thing that you want to be able to avoid at all costs. You might have made a little mistake with your fertilizer, and you’re going to want to correct this in the future.
Diluting the fertilizer with water and reducing the amount that you’re giving the plant might do the trick. It is good to use fertilizer because zebra plants need lots of nutrients to be able to produce beautiful flowers.
During the growing season, most zebra plant enthusiasts will give the plants fertilizer every one or two weeks. If you’ve been having issues with the leaves due to using too much fertilizer, then you’ll want to ensure that you’re giving the plant fertilizer bi-weekly and not weekly.
Using the right type of fertilizer is an important thing to get right as well. Water-soluble quick-release fertilizer is going to be the best stuff to use for zebra plants.
Fertilizer should not be used at all during the winter months, though. If you were using fertilizer outside of the growing season, then that could be the cause of your problems.
7 – Fungal Diseases
Sadly, zebra plants are going to be prone to fungal diseases due to how much they love high humidity. There are many types of fungal diseases that can cause your plant to change and look different.
Generally, these fungal diseases aren’t known to cause the zebra plant to have its leaves curl, but the leaves will change. For instance, one type of fungal disease will cause water-soaked lesions to appear on the leaves.
Lesions and leaf discoloration will be more common than leaf curling when you’re dealing with fungal diseases. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for a fungal disease to cause a zebra plant’s leaves to curl, though.
Fungal diseases can kill zebra plants very easily, and it’s hard to bring them back from the brink. The best thing that you can do if you’re worried about fungal diseases is to work to prevent something like this from happening.
When a plant starts dying from a fungal disease, the leaves will turn yellow and you’ll notice wilting. Wilting can often look like leaf curling, but you’ll probably notice other issues before you see the leaves start to curl.
Now that you’ve read all about potential problems that can occur when caring for zebra plants, it should be easier to care for them. You know what to look out for now as well as the most common reasons why zebra plants might experience leaf curling.
If you do your best to care for a zebra plant, then you’re going to love how it looks. These plants are beautiful and will definitely add charm to any room you decide to place them in.
Just be sure to remain vigilant when caring for the plant. Little mistakes can cause big problems with these plants, but you can turn things around by being mindful of what you’re doing in most circumstances.
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.