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Home » Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa): Plant Care and Growing Guide – House Plants Expert

Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa): Plant Care and Growing Guide – House Plants Expert

by Elyssa Goins
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

The zebra plant grows well indoors when given the correct care and conditions. However, it is quite a temperamental species and can easily lose its leaves and become leggy – without the proper care, it needs.

While the yellow or golden flower bracts that bloom for about 6 weeks are very attractive the foliage alone makes the Aphelandra Squarrosa (botanical name of zebra plant) a great ornamental plant for displaying indoors.

Zebra Plant Description

Zebra Plant Description

The Zebra plant is a fairly popular plant that is grown for its flower bracts and dark green leaves with prominent white-colored veins. So if you’re looking for a flowering or a foliage plant then this is a plant for either or both.


The flowers look similar to other bract-type flower heads and grow cone-shaped at the tips of a stem with small flowers that grow out of the bract. The amount of flower heads produced depends on the number of stems, which is more often than not, two – four. The flower bract will last for up to about 6 weeks and the small yellow flowers that grow from the bract last for about a week. The bract is the real attraction rather than the small flowers. A grower can expect flowers after summer.


As mentioned above the aphelandra Squarrosa displays lovely dark glossy green leaves with prominent whitish-colored veins. These leaves grow to about 9 inches long and a few inches wide within the center of the leaf, and they have pointed tips.

Where To Display

I thought I would mention where it may be best for you to place and display your Zebra plant because the conditions it needs are quite strict once it has flowered. The best place for them to grow well is within a conservatory or any other glass room because they usually offer more bright light and the ability to control humidity better, which is what this plant likes. However, growing in any well-lit room with fairly high humidity and plenty of warmth is worth a go at growing this fussy species.

Facts About Zebra Plant

Names:Zebra plant (common). Aphelandra Squarrosa (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx):Height 2ft.
Poisonous for pets:Non-toxic to cats and dogs.

Zebra Plant Care

There are many things to take into consideration when taking care of this plant:


Temperatures from 60-75 ºF (15-23 ºC) are ideal and no lower than 55 ºF (13 ºC). Keep away from household vents.


Bright light without direct sunlight during summertime is preferred.


It’s important to keep the soil moist to the touch, and not waterlogged (root rot). It’s advisable to use lukewarm soft water (not hard water).


Most multi-purpose or peat-based potting soil mixes are fine to use.


Re-pot in spring each year. Only use a pot one size bigger if the plant has become pot-bound (too much).


Feed with a balanced fertilizer once every two weeks during spring and summer.


Zebra plants like slightly higher humidity than many other plants 60% – 70%. You may need to raise the humidity levels in a room artificially by placing the plant in a humidity tray with pebbles or using a humidifier appliance. Low humidity levels within an artificially heated room during winter are not going to make a Zebra plant very happy.


When the flowers begin to die remove them. Also, prune the stem and leaves down so there are only two rows of leaves in height left – once the bract begins to die off. This can help prevent the plant from getting leggy and losing leaves (which most do) whilst giving the plant an opportunity to grow the following year. Don’t forget to take your cutting for propagation now.


These are propagated by taking a couple of inches long stem tip cuttings and using a rooting hormone to help them grow roots. The ideal room temperature is about 70 ºF (21 ºC) and fairly high humidity improves the chance of successfully propagating the cuttings. Applying heat to the bottom of the pot (using a temperature mat) can speed up the growth process.

Cutting the Plant for Propagation

If you’re propagating a zebra plant by doing stem cuttings, it is very important to get a nice section of leaves to start with a new plan. Find the best-looking stems and cut them to about 4-6 inches in length and should contain at least 2 sets of leaves.

The perfect and best time to propagate the plant is when you’re already pruning the plant so that you can use sections that you would have cut off anyway. Use clean, sharp garden shears to cut the stems just below a node. The little bump on the stem where the leaves develop is known as a node. The roots will have a greater surface area to grow from if the cut is made at a 45-degree angle.

Ways to Propagate

There are two options once the cutting is done: plant it in soil or root it in water.

  • Find a pot – Your zebra plant cutting should propagate in a very small container with at least one drainage hole. 
  • Choose a medium – Every seasoned gardener seems to have their own preferred propagation soil mixture. It is often believed that a soil-free mixture is ideal.  
  • Remove bottom leaves – Take off the stem’s lowest row of leaves. Most likely, roots will grow from the same location.b
  • Put the cutting in soil – Insert the stem’s cut end straight into the ground. Take care to thoroughly cover the node’s region.
  • Add Humidity – Zebra plant cuttings require a lot of humidity to establish.
  • Find a good spot – Keep the cutting in an area with lots of bright, indirect light. The cuttings will do best in a warm environment, about 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Potential Problems of Zebra Plant

It’s not a strange occurrence when one of these plants does not make it to see the next spring. Seeing all the above-mentioned care instructions (i.e., light, temperature, and humidity) will improve the chances of helping a Zebra plant to bloom the following year.

Leaves dropping

The cause here could be dryness of the soil, too much cold air, cold drafts, or even too much sunlight. I would advise you to eliminate some of the possible causes that cannot be the cause (eg. winter -not likely to be sunlight) and adjust the conditions to correct the possible causes.

Leaf tips turning brown

The most likely cause here is low humidity. First, try misting if you haven’t been, and if you have no joy then try to increase the humidity as mentioned above.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are zebra plants toxic to cats?

The plant is quite similar to aloe vera which is toxic to pets, but the zebra plant is nontoxic to pets.

Are zebra plants hard to care for?

Zebra plants might be a little difficult to care for because they are susceptible to both over and underwatering. Throughout the active growing season, make sure the soil is continually moist. In the winter months, you can allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings.

How often do I water my zebra plant?

It should be watered to saturation once every week or two depending on its location of growth rate.

How much light does a zebra plant need?

Bright light without direct sunlight during summertime is preferred.

What are common Zebra Plant Pests?

Insects including whiteflies, thrips, aphids, mealybugs, and fungus gnats are to be watched out for.


Zebra plants can be a nice and great addition to your home. Maintaining this houseplant will not be easy but following this guide, it will help your plant to grow healthy. No need to worry about your pets because this plant is safe and non-toxic. Put the plant in a spot where it will have indirect sunlight. It loves moist soil and not wet soil, which is easy to propagate.

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Mary Lloyster
Mary Lloyster
1 year ago

Oh, that is sad! But you can give your plant to someone who loves all types of plants.

Mary Joy
Mary Joy
1 year ago

I’ve been looking into getting a Zebra Plant for my home and I’m so excited to finally have one! These plants are known for their unique leaves that have alternating stripes. My mom told me Zebra plants are hardy houseplants and will thrive if given proper care. Thank you for sharing this informative post.I’m glad I saw your blog post. Question: What is the best pot to use for my zebra plant?

10 months ago

Can I cut the very top out of the zebra plant to encourage bushier growth as it’s CNN looking spindly .

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