Zebra Plant – Exotic Striped Foliage
The Zebra Plant (also known as Aphelandra squarrosa and Saffron Spike)
is a member of the Acanthaceae family, native to Brazil.
This tropical evergreen plant is best grown as a houseplant. Potted
plants grow to 15 inches (38 cm), ideal for pots that are 6 inches (15
cm) in diameter.
Large pointed leaves are dark, glossy green with exotic, creamy-white
stripes. They are oval in shape with a pointy tip, and grow in pairs on
a thick, purple tinted stem.
Blooming Aphelandra produce a showy plume of yellow bracts from which
emerge delicate yellow tubular flowers. The flowers only last for a few
days, while the bracts persist for four to eight weeks.
After the bracts fade, cut them off and allow the plant to rest in a
cool room for approximately
two months. Move the Zebra Plant to a bright indoor location in the
late spring, when light becomes more abundant (avoid direct sunlight).
It can also be moved to a shady outdoor location, such as a porch or
When exposed to bright light for three months, Aphelandra squarrosa
will typically rebloom in the fall. Flowering is triggered by light
intensity, not the length of day.
While the Zebra Plant will not bloom when kept in a low light
environment, it is still a worthwhile houseplant to display due to its
showy exotic foliage.
Plant – Basic Information and Plant Care Tips
Bright light in spring and summer, moderate light in fall and winter.
Warm temperatures – 65 - 80° F / 18 - 20° C.
From spring through fall, feed every two weeks. Leach containers twice
during the summer. Feed every six weeks in the winter.
Keep soil consistently moist.
Moderate to high humidity is ideal. Increase humidity by placing th
plant container on a tray of pebbles filled with water or by placing a
humidifier in the room near the plant.
Potting soil amended with peat moss or African violet mix.
Repot annually in the spring to refresh potting soil. Keep plant
slightly root bound.
Indefinitely if propagated from rooted cuttings.
Take stem tip cuttings in spring. Rooting powder can be used to speed
the rooting process.
‘Dania’ (the most common cultivar) has emerald green leaves with white
stripes. ‘Red Apollo’ has stems and leaf undersides tinted with red.
Display in a prominent location during the fall months, when the plant
is in bloom.
Plant Care – Solutions to Common Problems
Leaves become crinkled or
Cause: Too much light.
Solution: Move plant to a shadier location.
Growing tips become
Cause: Soil is too dry.
Solution: Saffron Spike requires constant moisture. Check the potting
soil in the center of the pot. If the soil is dried out, water
Leaves become wilted and
Cause: This can be caused by a variety of issues, such as, excessive
watering, not enough water, or excessive fertilization.
Solution: Keep soil moist, not soaked. Reduce the strength of the
fertilizer used to feed the plant. Remove accumulated salt build-up by
leaching the plant container.
Small yellow spots appear
on leaves; presence of tiny flying insects.
Solution: Isolate the plant and purchase yellow sticky traps intended
for use with houseplants.
Plant is weak, grows
slowly, and small flying insects are present.
Cause: Fungus Gnats
Solution: Moist, peaty soil attracts Fungus Gnats. Allow soil to become
slightly dry for several days. Trap larvae by adding pushing small
potato slices into the soil. Dispose of the potato slices after two
days. Repeat this process until Fungus Gnats disappear. If this does
not work, repot the plant if fresh potting medium.
White cottony masses
appear on plant stems.
Solution: Remove the mealybugs with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
Small insects on leaf
undersides and new leaves.
Solution: Clean the plant thoroughly with water. Spray with