How to grow and care for Zebra Plant Indoors

Houseplant, Zebra plant

Botanical name: Aphelandra squarrosa
Family: Melastomataceae

Zebra Plant is grow indoors for its all year round large leaves with silvery veins which provide an attractive feature and the golden cone-like bloom which provides color for a short time. It can grow to a height of 2 ft and to prevent it from becoming leggy, regular pruning is required. The plant does not bloom often but it can be encouraged to bloom by prolonged daily exposure to light. For it to thrive, it requires regular feeding, high humidity and consistently moist soil. Zebra plant is native to the Atlantic forest vegetation of Brazil.

The basic species can reach a height of 3-4 ft and therefore is not ideal to be grown indoors. The usual choice are the less vigorous varieties. They include Louisae, which is a 1-2 ft sturdy bush with red-tipped bracts. More compact types include Brockfeld and the golden Dania. Fritz Prinsler has the most eye-catching veining. Other newer varieties are Apollo with white veins and Red Apollo which has a blush of red on the stems and on the leaf undersides.

How to Grow Zebra Plant

Light

Zebra Plant grows best in bright light away from direct sunshine. Exposure of the plant to direct sunlight will result in sunscorched leaves. Learn more on how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Zebra Plant thoroughly during the growing season to maintain the soil moist through out. Reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist. Do not allow the soil to dry out as it can lead to wilting and laef drop. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average room temperature with a minimum of 180C is ideal for Zebra Plant. Protect it from cold draughts to prevent leaf fall. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Zebra Plant grows best in humid conditions. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for the plant. Clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust.

Feeding

Feed Zebra Plant monthly with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. Withhold feeding during the growth season as growth is minimal. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Pruning

Prune Zebra Plant by removing dead blooms and leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Cutback the plant after flowering to 1/3 of its height to encourage new growth and to keep the plant compact.

Repotting

Repot the Zebra Plant at the beginning of the growing season in a pot one size larger than the previous one only when the plant becomes pot-bound. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining soil to avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot.

How to Propagate Zebra Plant

Zebra Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings. Take stem cuttings of about 4-6 in. Ensure each cutting has at least 2 nodes. Dip the lower cut end in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting. Insert the cutting in moist free-draining soil. Cover the set up with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect in order to promote rooting. Place the set up in a warm brightly lit spot. Rooting should occur in about 6 weeks. Allow the plants to be well established before transplanting.

Common Problems in Growing Zebra Plant

  • Wilting and leaf drop
  • Underwatering is the cause of wilting and leaf drop in Zebra Plant; water the plant thoroughly and maintain the soil consistently moist during the growing season.

  • Loss of leaves
  • Cold draughts and exposure to direct sunlight will cause leaf drop in Zebra Plant. Protect the plant from cold draughts and maintain warm temperatures. Avoid exposing the plant to direct sunlight.

  • Brown leaf tips and or brown leaf edges
  • Too low humidity will cause brown leaf tips and edges in Zebra Plant. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for the plant.

  • Brown leaf spots
  • Exposure of Zebra Plant to direct sunlight will result in brown sunscorch marks on the leaves. Keep the plant way drom direct sunlight.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Zebra Plant are Spider Mite, Scale Insects and Aphids.

Toxicity

Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) is non-toxic to both humans and pets. It is safe to grow in the home.

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