Zebra Plant

Zebra Plant Aphelandra squarrosa

Zebra Plant Aphelandra squarrosa

Common Name: Zebra Plant
Latin Name: Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Louisae’
Family: Acanthaceae
Plant Type: Broadleaf shrub
Origin: Brazil
Blooming Time: Year round
Humidity: High
Temperature: 60 – 85 *F
Height: 4′ – 6′
Color: Green, white variegation
Insects and Diseases: Aphids, scale, spider mites, mealy bugs, whitefly

The Zebra Plant has dark green, glossy leaves that are ovate with pointy tips. The contrasting white variegated veins make this a striking plant for the home. Flowers are yellow to bright yellow and grow in bracts that are clustered on a spike that can reach up to 4″ long.

This plant will flourish best when it’s given a supply of bright indirect sunlight or part shade. But, if the plant is given long periods of light it will be encouraged to bloom more often.

This plant is a little hard to care for as too much or too little water can quickly cause the leaves to drop. Water when the top of the soil has just started to feel dry, this plant likes to be kept moist. Less water is needed during the winter months or after the plant has flowered.

Zebra plants like rich soil that retains water, but drains well. An African Violet mix can be used and pots should have holes in the bottom for adequate drainage. To make your own potting soil mixture, use 1 part coarse sand or Perlite, 1 part garden soil, 2 parts humus or peat.

During the growing seasons, spring and summer, the Zebra plant needs to be feed weekly. A good quality water soluble plant food works well.

Both air layering and stem cuttings can be propagated in the spring and should be placed in a mixture of Perlite and moist peat. The pot can be covered with plastic to retain moisture and set in indirect sunlight.

Cuttings should be 4-6 inches long and kept moist, but not overly wet and you’ll get better results if the cuttings are kept from 70 – 80*. Repot only after the plant has gotten well established.

While not listed on the poisonous plant list, the sap from a Zebra plant may cause skin irritation to some people.

Zebra plants normally don’t bloom very often, but can be coaxed into blooming by prolonging it’s exposure to light during the day. Remove the flower spikes after the flower has died.

Avoid getting water on the plants leaves, wet spots on the leaves can turn into leaf spot fungus. If you get any water on the leaves, dry them off.

Written by Connie Corder for HouseplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved.


  1. Bonnie Brooks
    May 28, 2009


    My Zebra Plant is many years old and I’ve kept it outside in summer and winter. I live in Northern CA. I don’t particularly care about it re-blooming, but it seems like it’ needs to be re-potted. There are some leaves and new ones coming out at the top, but the stalk is long and spindly. From the base of the stalk it divides half way up the plant into two stalks. I wondered when I re-pot it, if I can plant some of the base stalk down in the soil kind of like you can do with tomato plants? Then maybe it will encourage more shoots lower on the stalk?


    Bonnie Brooks

  2. vickie jackson
    Jul 13, 2009

    why does my zebra plant has mold growing and mushrooms growing in the soil and brown leaves? thank you very much

  3. werner nitter
    Oct 20, 2009


    You need to give it LOTS more light. Mushrooms grow best in dark, moist places. The brown leaves indicate lack of light and possibly water. Mine zebra sits in my office getting 10-12 hours of artificial light per day. It’s thriving.

    Bonnie, don’t know.

  4. Claudia
    Dec 26, 2009

    I found my zebra plant has insert. The small and yellowlish insert will become black insert after few days, Is there any one can tell me how to prevent the insert?

  5. Anonymous
    Aug 6, 2010

    my zebra plan gets plenty of light and plenty of water. Why are tips of leaves turning brown and becoming “crisp”?

  6. john
    Aug 22, 2010

    this has to be the worst plant on the planet to grow. I never heard of any living more than a couple of years in a indoor fake enviroment. You have t o take care of them perfect and even if you do most people toss them after the initial bloom wilts and treat it more like a annual. Yuck. even my mom that was a house plant pro could not handle it.

  7. Florence
    Sep 19, 2010

    I recently bought a Zebra plant and want to transplant it to a bigger pot. How big should the pot be and still do well?? ( I know some plants do better in smaller pots.

  8. emma
    Nov 1, 2010

    i have a zebra plant and i’ve only had it for about 6 months. i feel that i’m not giving it the care it needs because the whole top bunch of leaves fell off. the stem got soggy and i finally just cut it off. i wasn’t happy about it but its got another stem growing out on the side. please help me i love my plants and i’d hate to lose this beautiful plant. i feed it weekly and make sure its not over watered and its by a window but not in direct sunlight. i have no idea what to do. does anyone have any suggestions?

  9. mindy
    Nov 1, 2010

    I have had my zebra plant for a year now. When I purchased it, it was blooming and well suprisingly it has rebloomed again this year and probably doubled its size. I live in MO and well I keep it indoors during winter by a window that gets late day sunlight and there is a heater vent near it. Then in the summer I put it on my front porch and it gets evening light there also. I have been very successful and hopefully some help!

  10. emma
    Nov 4, 2010

    i live in tx and the climate here is crazy, i can’t afford to leave my plant outside at all the air is so dry! i tried to turn the soil and maybe air it out and i gave her some plant food when i watered her, i hope that will help it overcome this. anyway thank you mindy for your help, pray my plant lives!

  11. Viviana
    Nov 21, 2010

    Hi, I’ve had my Zebra plant for a few months now. I live in Southern California. Our weather is pretty good but not humid enough so I have put my pot inside a plastic tray with some water and small rocks for added humidity. So far so good. I can tell when it needs water because the leaves start drooping. I’m trying to not let it get to that point and now that winter is approaching, I brought it in so I can keep a better eye on it as well. Emma, have you been over watering it? Did it get any direct sunlight that might have affected it? The soggy problem actually happened to me with a small red cactus I had outside. It rained for 2 days and when I went to see it, the stem was soggy and had turned a yellowish color. Be careful with the watering and good luck.

  12. Kennith
    May 29, 2011

    Hi, I have had my Zebra plant for atleast 5-6 years. My plant it now a little over 2 feet tall. The problem I’m having is that it is too tall. It leans too much and it looks like it will break soon. I was thinking of dramatically cutting it down to about maybe 8 -10 inches in height so it’s more easy to manage. If I were to take some scissors and cut it would that kill it? help please.

  13. Mrs.Slone
    May 30, 2011

    @ Kennith From what I can find out it seems as if you can cut down and it will not kill it out as long as the roots are not harmed it should do fine also if you plant the part that you have cut off it will take root and grow another one as well kinda like Lucky Bamboo make sure you make a nice clean cut on it hope this helped you out some what

  14. Alex
    Jun 7, 2011

    This thing is tough to grow!! I have killed 3 so far. I forget to water it and the leaves drop and then I end up with this palm tree type thing with one stem that leans to one side.I found the trick is to alternate watering if from the bottom and the top as it seems to really suck up water from the bottom and like that. I am very surprised it says not to get water on the leaves as I mist this tropical plant regularly and it seems to last longer that way. I transplanted my most recent one a couple weeks ago and so far so good. The tips of the leaves are crisping off a bit tho so I am trying to figure out how to remedy that.

    Wish me luck!

  15. PlantLady
    Jun 15, 2011

    Kenneth, sounds like your Zebra plant is absolutely beautiful. You must be doing something right to have kept it thriving that long and for it to have gotten so tall. I agree with Mr. Slone, you can cut the plant and then propagate the cuttings and start more plants. But,, if you’d rather not cut it and want to let it keep growing, you can also use a stake to give it support. Of course, since the plant is probably fairly heavy, staking it would require a large pot to hold the stake steady.

    As far as getting water on the leaves, I think the problem comes when the plants leaves are drenched and it isn’t in an area where the water can dry. All tropical plants like humidity and seem to do much better when they are misted. But, misting just applies a light coverage of water to the leaves. It’s large droplets of water that sit on the leaves for long periods of time that can cause fungus to start growing.

  16. Ellen
    Mar 28, 2012

    I bought my Zebra plant about a month ago and I was told that it attracts bugs and insects. My plant is indoors. Is there anyway to make sure my plant doesn’t get these?

  17. Tera
    Oct 17, 2012

    My zebra plant is four years old and four feet tall. I got my first blom ever this year : ) does anyone know how to strengthen the stalk? Should I tie it to a stake? My zebra has been easy to care for, I water it frequently with warm water and it is always in front of a window facing east.

  18. jeanne
    Dec 9, 2012

    I have a beautiful zebra plant that is health. I have been noticing that the bottom leaves start to turn a light yellow and fall off. This happened once in a while.
    Also how long does it take to flower? I have it since the spring. Can you help?
    Thank you

  19. pamela
    Apr 28, 2013

    I have a zebra plant I just bought thats about 14″ tall. It too has lost lower leaves but has new leaves growing 🙂 My question is my zebra only has one stalk so how do you do stem cutting? Can you just take a leaf and produce a new plant? Ive searced on line with no direcctions that are clear. Thanks for any help you can give me.

    PS I found that my zebra was drooping between watering. I have started watering mine from root up every other day and is doing beautiful!!! New leaf growth started forming 🙂

  20. David
    Dec 15, 2013

    I fucking love my zebra plant. I’ve had it for a year and a half now and it looks amazing and grows like crazy. It hasn’t bloomed in awhile, I just recently put a fluorescent light on it so hopefully it will bloom soon.

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