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Zebra Plant Care Indoors [Aphelandra Squarrosa Growth Tips]

Zebra Plant Care Indoors [Aphelandra Squarrosa Growth Tips]
Mokkie, CC BY-SA 3.0
The zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) is a beautiful houseplant that is native to South America. It has glossy green leaves with white stripes and produces delicate yellow flowers.

The Zebra plant is easy to care for, but there are a few things you should know in order to keep it healthy and looking its best. So we will tell you about zebra plant care indoors!

What Is The Zebra Plant Or Aphelandra Squarrosa?

Zebra Plant Aphelandra Squarrosa There are several plants that go by the name Zebra plant but this plant’s scientific name is Aphelandra squarrosa.

There is also a South African succulent called Zebra plant named Haworthia Attenuata which we have a separate article about.

Aphelandra squarrosa (commonly but ambiguously called “zebra plant”) is a plant species in the family Acanthaceae, which is native to Atlantic Forest vegetation of Brazil. This plant is often used as a house plant. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphelandra_squarrosa

Zebra Plant Care Indoors In A Nutshell

Zebra Plant - AphelandraOne of the most important things to remember when caring for a zebra plant is to provide it with bright, indirect sunlight.

Soil for this plant should drain well. You can use a peat-based soil mix but if it is on the heavy side you can amend it with perlite.

When it comes to watering, be sure to give your zebra plant just enough so that the soil is moistened, but not soggy.

Allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out before watering again. If you water your plant too often, it can lead to root rot, so it’s better to err on the side of underwatering.

As far as fertilizing goes, you will only need to do this once every two weeks or so. Use a liquid fertilizer that is diluted to half-strength, and apply it when you water your plant.

Another important thing to remember is that zebra plants like warm temperatures above 60° Fahrenheit and are sensitive to drafts.

Make sure that your plant is not placed near an open window or door, or heating and cooling ducts.

They prefer humidity above 50%.

If you follow these simple tips, your zebra plant will thrive indoors! Just be sure to give it the proper care and attention, and it will reward you with its beautiful flowers and foliage.

How To Make A Zebra Plant Bloom

You might have been lucky to find a zebra plant that is ready to bloom. If so the yellow flowers won’t last long but the decorative spike they grew on will. When it dies back cut it off.

But if you have a plant that hasn’t flowered or you want yours to flower again then you can do it if the timing and lighting are right.

These plants will bloom in the summer or fall after prolonged exposure to bright indirect light.

So in the spring, you will want to make sure your zebra plant is getting plenty of light. You can help with this by using supplemental lighting.

You want your plant to get 12-16 hours of light every day for about 3 or 4 months to initiate flowering.

Zebra Plant Care Indoors [Aphelandra Squarrosa Growth Tips] – The Nitty Gritty Details

Here is some more helpful information about lighting, repotting, pruning, propagating, and more so you can care for your Zebra plant.

Zebra Plant Light Requirements

Zebra plants will do best in bright, indirect light. A few hours of morning sun in an east-facing window is ok but you want to avoid too much direct sunlight which can scorch the leaves.

They can also tolerate lower light levels. But if the light levels are low they won’t bloom. This plant won’t do well in the shade.

How Often To Water Zebra Plant

Zebra plant likes to be in the Goldilocks zone, not too wet and not too dry.

Every two weeks is often recommended but it depends a lot on your soil, plant size, and your environment.

So smaller frequent watering is the best way to find the right balance. You will water less in winter when the plant is semi-dormant.

Overwatering will cause root rot and too much underwatering can lead to drooping or dropping leaves.

 Aphelandra Zebra Plant Humidity

The ideal humidity for your zebra plant is 70% which is fairly high for most homes, especially when winter heating dries the air.

Your plant can be misted often to raise humidity. You can also place it on a pebble tray.

This is simply a container with pebbles to which water is added. It’s important that your plant sits on top of the pebbles but not actually in the water.

Another option might be buying a small humidifier to place near your plants.

Zebra Plant Temperature

This is a tropical plant and it prefers growing at 65-80 degrees. If you are comfortable your plant probably is too.

70-75 degrees is probably the best all-around temperature for them but they can be damaged at temperatures below 55 degrees.

Zebra Plant Soil

These plants prefer soil that is rich in organic matter and drains well. You can use regular potting mix and add extra perlite to improve drainage.

Coco coir is a great growing medium that is light and fast draining but also retains water well. You can use it alone or add about 30% perlite to it.

Fertilizing Zebra Plant

During the growing season, you should fertilize your plant about every 2 weeks but during the winter you don’t need to fertilize at all.

Use a balanced fertilizer blend and I recommend using it at half the manufacturer’s suggested dose.

Then watch how your plant reacts to it before increasing it. With fertilizer, less is more.

Zebra Plant Aphelandra Squarrosa Propagation

Zebra plants can be propagated in several ways. The most common way is to use stem cuttings in water or in moist soil.

This plant can often lose lower leaves as it ages leaving bare stems. You can cut a top off above a node to reduce its height.

The node will sprout new leaves and the cutting can be used to start a new plant.

They also can be air layered but this is more complicated, here is a video that shows you how to air layer.

Zebra Plant Pruning

As your plant grows it will gradually start to get taller and leggier. Eventually, you will want to prune it back.

If your plant has flowered you will want to remove the flower spike when it starts to die back.

Then start by removing dead, dying, or damaged leaves. Remove any branches that are out of place too.

Cut branches off above a healthy node and you will have new growth coming from that point.

You can save the branches you pruned off to propagate new plants.

Is Zebra Plant Aphelandra Squarrosa Toxic?

Happily, this plant is not toxic to pets or people according to the ASPCA. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/saffron-spike-zebra

Zebra Plant Care Final Thoughts

If you follow the simple tips outlined in this blog post, you will have no trouble keeping your zebra plant healthy and looking its best.

Just remember to provide it with bright indirect sunlight, water it properly, and fertilize it every two weeks or so, and your plant will thrive indoors!