The zebra plant gets its name from its foliage’s resemblance to the animal. This tropical rainforest plant originated from Brazil, where it gets an adequate amount of both sunlight and rain. Its bright yellow flower makes the plant a beautiful décor for the house.
Are There Any Other Zebra Plants?
Not to be confused with other zebra plants, the one we are talking about now is the Aphelandra squarrosa. The same nickname may also be used for plants from Calathea zebrini and Aechmea chantinii family. Though the plants’ foliage may have the same stripes, Aphelandra squarrosa has its own distinctive characteristic.
Coming from Acanthaceae family, the Aphelandra squarrosa is often known as a houseplant because of its unique presentation. The white stripes on the leaves are actually its midrib and veins, contrasting with dark green color on the surface. It grows up around 15 – 20 cm in heights, with bright yellow flower stem standing upright from the center of the shrubs.
The Right Condition to Keep the Zebra Plant Alive
Though the plant has been domesticized as a houseplant, planters still have to pay attention to the right temperature, light source, humidity, and other zebra plant care. In tropical and subtropical areas, the zebra plant would grow naturally easy. However, if your area passes through a heavy winter season every year, you may have to work a little harder.
Soil and Fertilizer
As a succulent, zebra plant does need a non-clay soil. Clay soil retains too much water that can spoil the plant. It is best to use a rich organic potting soil like African Violet mix. Since it originally lives in a rain-prone area, the soil needs to be moderately moist, but not wet. In addition, the soil may be fertilized twice a year in spring and summer with a basic organic houseplant fertilizer.
Light Source and Temperature
Zebra plant flowers bloom lavishly in summer when it receives a proper amount of light. However, it does not prefer direct sunlight most of the days. The temperature around the plant should be between 18˚ C – 21˚ C. It is not recommended to let the plant freezes below 15˚ C.
Imitating the rain that occasionally falls on the rainforests of Brazil, the plant does not prefer to be soaked in water. It favors frequent and steady amount of water to keep its soil moist. You can use lukewarm water to keep the warm temperature under the plant. It is also recommended to mist the plant frequently during its growth period.
The plant needs high humidity, around 40% – 80% of it. To maintain the humidity around the zebra plant, keep pebbles on the bottom of the pot to retain water and keep the soil from getting dry.
How Long the Zebra plant Can Survive?
Compared to other succulent, the zebra plant is a short-lived species. The flowers only bloom for about 6 weeks and then it enters a resting period before it dies eventually. New plants would appear at the base of the plant, forming shoots that can be placed on another pot once it appears. In winter, the zebra plant would enter dormancy which means that it would not bloom until it experiences proper sunlight.
Tricks in Getting the Zebra plant Flowers to Bloom
The right yellow flowers of the zebra plant are the main thing that is anticipated from it. It is easy to spot a plant that already has the flower stalks on the store. However, once it dies, you may have to wait for several weeks before seeing the flower again. It is also hard to achieve especially if you don’t do the zebra plant care right.
The focus of the care is to keep it alive in winter and expose it to full indirect sunlight in summer. Though it sounds complicated, once you get to know the plant’s characteristics and demand, it would be a piece of cake. It takes around three months for the flower to bloom from its dormancy to growth period. If you are lucky enough, some zebra plants flowers bloom some more in spring.
Propagating and Repotting Zebra plant
The best pot size to start with the zebra plant is the one that is around 6 inches in diameters. You can use both clay and plastic pot depending on your preference. There are some tips to succeed in zebra plant propagation.
Cut the Stem in Spring
The best time to propagate the zebra plant is in spring. Take around 2 – 3 inches of stem from the side shoots of the plant.
Use a Rooting Hormone
Rooting hormone would increase the chance of successful propagation. Dust the cut end of the stem with a rooting hormone before potting it.
Use the Right Growth Medium
The ideal growth medium would be a mix of peat moss with perlite. To boost growth, you may want to utilize a heating pad under the pot. High humidity is essentially needed in this period. Covering the plant with a plastic wrap may be one of the simplest tricks to retain moisture.
When it comes to repotting, spring is the ideal time. Spring provides adequate humidity with enough sunlight to start with. However, most of the zebra plant does not need frequent repotting especially if you want to keep the plant looking compact for a house décor.
When compared with other “zebra plant”, the Aphelandra squarrosa is the largest species of the plant. The highlight of this plant can not only be seen from its large uniquely striped leaves, but also from its big bright yellow flowers that stand from its shrubs. Though it is rather easy to maintain, many people are interested in waiting for the flower to bloom.
As a houseplant, the demand of the zebra plant matches perfectly with an average house condition: warm, receives a lot of sunlight, and moderately humid. If you want to have a succulent with a unique look, Aphelandra squarrosa is the one for you.