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How to Take Care of a Zebra Plant

The zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa), a native of the Brazilian tropics, is a striking plant with broad, dark green leaves and splashy variegated white stripes along the veins of the leaves. If conditions are right, the zebra plant will produce a spiky, bright-yellow bloom. The zebra plant can be tricky to grow indoors, so for the best chance of success, keep the zebra plant in a warm, humid room.

Water the zebra plant as soon as the top of the soil feels slightly dry, but don't overwater. Allowing the soil to become too dry or too wet will cause the zebra plant to drop its lower leaves.

Place the zebra plant in bright, indirect sunlight, but avoid direct, hot sunlight. Zebra plant will do well 3 to 4 feet from a sunny window, or near a window covered with a sheer curtain.

Feed the zebra plant weekly during spring and summer, using a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. Don't fertilize the zebra plant during fall and winter.

Re-pot the zebra plant only when necessary, when the plant begins to overgrow its container. Houseplants need to be re-potted when growth slows or when white roots show on the top of the pot or grow through the container's drainage hole. Move the zebra plant to a container only one size larger, filled with potting soil for African violets. Be sure the container has a drainage hole in the bottom.

Keep the zebra plant in a room where the temperature will be maintained between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Zebra plants will benefit from being placed in a humid room such as a bathroom or kitchen.

Care For Zebra Plants

Zebra plant is the common name for two popular varieties of tropical houseplants. Aphelandra squarrosa_ has dark green leaves with silvery white striping and, in late summer to fall, a bright yellow flower (technically a bract). Calathea zebrina_ actually has flowers, but they are small and usually appear under the leaves so you don’t notice them. it’s hard to tell whether the leaves are dark green or light green, but the light green veins seem to indicate that the dark green is what forms the striping. ( Another distinguishing characteristic of Calathea zebrina is its size. The brilliant yellow flower of Aphelandra squarrosa is actually a bract, a leafy structure below the flower. Zebra plants love greenhouses and conservatories for their bright, indirect light. Watering: Water zebra plants regularly and thoroughly during the growing seasons to keep the soil moist but not wet. How often to water depends largely on the soil and the humidity in your house. Humidity: Zebra plants do best in 60 to 70 percent humidity—more than most people want in their homes. Do not fertilize in winter. _ To make the most of your zebra plant’s bloom—and give it the best chance of blooming; it doesn’t always happen—keep the plant a little colder for a couple of months in winter. The bloom is encouraged by intense light rather than the number of daylight hours. When it has finished flowering, cut back the bract to encourage the next bloom. Under ideal conditions, it’s possible to get a second bloom in fall, but this is difficult to achieve.

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