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7 Causes of a Zebra Plant Turning Red

7 Causes of a Zebra Plant Turning Red

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There are a lot of reasons you might be attracted to zebra plants. They’re known for their air-purifying abilities, they’re easy to care for, and they can live for a long time.

Their biggest selling point, though, is their looks. The striped patterns provide unique visuals that can decorate the corners of your house.

That’s why it’s frustrating when the leaves start turning red, as they lose some of their visual appeal. While some people might like the new color, it’s ultimately a sign of an unhealthy plant.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to determine the cause of discoloration.

After reading this post, you’ll know all the variables that factor into zebra plants’ discoloration and how to deal with each one.

Why Is My Zebra Plant Turning Red?

Now let’s see how the lack of a proper growing environment can cause your zebra plant to turn red.

1 – Improper Watering

As they don’t have a specific watering schedule, it’s difficult to identify the right time to water zebra plants. So, new plant owners end up over or under-watering them.

If you over-water your plant, the roots start to suffocate as they stop absorbing oxygen. Eventually, they become unable to supply the leaves with nutrients, causing them to turn red.

Not providing your plant with enough water has a similar effect. The roots die from dehydration and stop supplying the leaves with water and nutrients, causing them to turn red from malnourishment.

To determine if it’s time to water your plant, touch the surface of the soil. If it’s dry, then it’s time to water your plant. If it’s still moist, wait until it gets a bit dry.

2 – Bad Soil

As the housing environment of your plant, growing a zebra in poor soil is like throwing a domesticated cat in the wild. It wouldn’t survive for long. Ideally, your soil needs to drain any excess water but maintain enough moisture to keep the plant hydrated.

If it doesn’t have good drainage properties, it’ll absorb too much water, causing root rot. If it doesn’t retain enough moisture, it’ll leave the roots dehydrated.

3 – Lack of Fertilization

Water and soil aren’t the only means of providing your plant with proper nourishment. Fertilizing your plant would help it acquire necessary nutrients and recover from pest diseases.

So, not fertilizing your plant enough prevents it from growing properly. It starts drooping, frailing, and turning red. Ideally, you want to fertilize your plant once a month using an organic liquid fertilizer.

4 – Direct Sunlight

Since they usually grow under canopy trees, zebra plants thrive when they receive indirect sunlight. When exposed to direct sunlight, their stress levels skyrocket.

As a defense mechanism, they produce a chemical called anthocyanin to reduce stress levels. One of the side effects of that chemical is turning the leaves red/purple.

So, plant your zebra somewhere with a balanced amount of sun exposure and shade.

5 – Extreme Temperature Change

Although they don’t tolerate direct sunlight, zebra plants thrive in warm environments at a temperature between 60-80℉. So, a sudden temperature change, whether it’s too hot or too cold, would cause your plant to turn red.

Think of it as your plant’s way to signal that it’s not comfortable in this environment.

6 – Fungal Infections

Since zebra plants require high humidity, they’re more susceptible to fungal diseases. The thing about fungal infections is that they occur for different reasons, like poor air circulation, pests, and overhead watering.

When you water your plant from above, the leaves get too wet.

As water sits for a long period of time, mold starts to form on the leaves, stressing your plant out. So, your zebra plant produces anthocyanin, which gives the leaves a red tinge.

It also doesn’t help if you don’t give your plant enough room to breathe, as there wouldn’t be an outlet for excess moisture.

7 – Pests

As they retain a lot of moisture, zebra plants attract different types of pests. Whether it’s spider mites, aphids, or mealybugs, not only do these pests cause fungal infections, but they also suck sap and moisture out of your plant, causing the leaves to turn red.

Final Thoughts

Luckily, zebra plants are quite expressive. If you’re doing something wrong, they’ll let you know.

Whether it’s improper watering, direct sun exposure, or poor soil, the increased stress levels of not providing the ideal growing environment force your plant to release anthocyanin, which turns your plant red.

So, make sure you provide your plant with balanced nutrients, and you won’t have to worry about discoloration.

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