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Alocasia Zebrina Care: Zebra Plant Beginner’s Guide

Alocasia Zebrina is a beautiful evergreen plant and is a wonderful addition to your home.

With its large emerald-green arrowhead leaves and zebra-striped stem, this is one of the most unique Alocasia varieties.

Alocasia Zebrina

These stunning plants look great indoors and do not require too much attention. This does not mean that they should be ignored altogether, they require specific conditions to grow optimally. To ensure yours grows green and tall, here is a simple guide to Alocasia Zebrina care guide.

Common Names For Alocasia Zebrina

The Alocasia Zebrina’s unique appearance has earned it a number of enticing names. Much of the names given to this plant are related to its unusual stalks.

The houseplant features dark green animal-print stems covered with patches of light green or cream. This is what gives the popular plant its zebra or leopard-like appearance.  

Due to its unique, exotic appearance, the plant is often referred to as Alocasia Zebrina Tiger, Alocasia Zebra, or Alocasia Leopard.

Other common names include Alocasia Reticulata Zebrina and Alocasia Elephant Ear, a name applied to many Alocasia species.

Alocasia Zebrina Care Tips

Alocasia plants are relatively low maintenance provided you are adhering to their basic needs.

To ensure a healthy Alocasia Zebrina grows green and tall, here are some basic tiger plant care tips.

How To Care For Alocasia Zebrina In Winter?

During the winter months, Alocasia Zebrina enters its dormancy phase. While dormant, the plant stops actively growing and its leaves tend to fade and die. This is all-natural, so do not be alarmed. 

To ensure your Alocasia makes it to spring, it is advised that you cut back on watering. Allow the top two inches of the soil to dry before watering again.

Moreover, place your plant in a warm area. Once spring arrives, the plant will begin to grow again.

Alocasia zebrina leaves plant
Close up of the big leaf of Alocasia Zebrina Tiger Elephant ear plants

How Much Light Does Your Alocasia Zebrina Need?

Much like other elephant ear plants, Alocasia Zebrina requires lots of sunlight. Their large leaves serve as solar panels and are happy absorbing plenty of indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight, however, tends to be too harsh and will end up burning your Alocasia’s leaves.

For optimal growth, southern exposure protected by a sheer curtain works best. Alternatively, place your plant a few feet away from the window. Another good method is to provide them with direct sunlight for an hour a day during the early hours of the morning.

Note: Alocasia leaves tend to grow aggressively toward their light source. This can result in the plant becoming lopsided. To ensure your plant grows upright, rotate the pot 90º each time you water.

Signs Your Alocasia Zebrina Needs More Light?

There are a number of problems that may arise which would suggest that your Alocasia Zebra plant needs more light. These include:

  • Stem begins to droop as the plant starts leaning towards the light source
  • Poor coloration
  • Yellow/brown spots on the leaves
  • No new growth, particularly outside of winter
  • Soggy soil

If your Alocasia Zebrina is showing any of these symptoms, consider moving them to a brighter location.

Alocasia Zebrina Temperature Requirements

Alocasia Zebrina grows best in comfortable, warm areas. They do not enjoy the cold; even a slight chill can result in leaf loss. On top of that, prolonged cold conditions can cause your plant to go dormant.

To keep your Alocasia Zebrina happy, it is best to maintain a temperature that lies within the range of 18ºC (65ºF) and 28 (82ºF). Also, avoid abrupt temperature changes and keep your plant clear of heaters, air conditioners, and any drafts. This tends to dry the air, lowering the humidity levels surrounding your plant.

Alocasia Zebrina Humidity Requirements

As Alocasia Zebrina are rainforest dwellers, they naturally prefer humid environments. The ideal humidity level for these plants is 60% and above. When the air is too dry, the plants become more susceptible to pests and their beautiful green leaves may begin to brown.

For your Alocasia to get the moisture it needs, it is best kept in a greenhouse or indoors with a humidifier. You can also mist your Alocasia once a week in the mornings by spraying it with room temperature water. This will also prevent dust from settling on its leaves.

Another effective method is to place the Alocasia Zebrina on a pebble tray. As the water below begins to evaporate, this will increase the humidity levels surrounding your plant.

Alocasia zebrina plant leaves
Alocasia zebrina

How Often Should You Water Alocasia Zebrina?

While Alocasia Zebrina loves humid climates, it does not like being watered a lot. It is better to slightly underwater this plant than overwater it. If overwatered, the plant becomes highly prone to root rot. As their thick, striped stems store a lot of moisture, these plants do not require much water each season.

During spring and summer, it is best to do so only when the top ½ inch of the soil feels dry. It’s always best practice to avoid soaking the soil. It is better to water in smaller amounts when needed. In the winter, it is recommended that you allow the top 2 inches of the soil to dry between waterings.

Alocasia Zebrina Soil And Fertilizer

As previously mentioned, it is better to slightly underwater this plant than overwater it. To reduce the likelihood of the plant being overwatered, it is recommended that you use soil that drains well. This way, the soil will absorb the ideal amount of water and the plant won’t be at risk of root rot.

Alocasias are heavy feeders, particularly during spring and summer. During this time it is best to feed your plant with a 1/2 – dilution of a balanced formula every two weeks.

You may also opt to use an organic, slow-release fertilizer, which will only require you to feed your plant baby every four to six weeks. Once winter arrives, the plant becomes dormant so it is best to stop feeding until the beginning of the next spring.

When And How To Trim Your Alocasia Zebrina

Reasons for pruning elephant ear plants include stopping the spread of a fungal infection or disease, as well as remedying any cold damage. Common signs of cold damage are yellowed leaves and a droopy or mushy stem.

Should your Alocasia Zebrina show any signs of damage, infection, or diseases, follow these easy steps:

  1. Grab a sterilized knife or pruning tool, as well as a pair of protective gloves. This is important as Alocasia Zebrina is toxic and can cause skin irritations.
  2. Inspect your Alocasia to identify any damaged leaves and stems.
  3. Cut foliage back close to the main stalk.
  4. Trim away any blemishes, following the natural shape of the leaf.

To aid recovery, the best time to prune your Alocasia Zebrina is at the beginning of its growing season.

Repotting Alocasia Zebrina

Alocasia Zebrina loves being root bound in a smaller pot. As such, do not be too hasty when deciding to repot it in a larger pot.

Moreover, when you eventually do need to move it to a bigger pot, do so in smaller increments.

To repot your Alocasia, follow these simple steps:

  1. Carefully remove the plant from its current pot and inspect the roots for any wrapping. If this is the case, gently tease them apart with your finger or cut them with a sterilized knife.
  2. Begin replacing the soil with a similar composite to avoid shocking the plant.
  3. Place the Alocasia Zebrina into its new home.
  4. Fill the remainder of the pot with the appropriate soil mixture, firming it up around the plant.
  5. Water well but be sure to monitor the soil’s moisture. This is important as a larger pot tends to increase the water volume relative to the root system.
  6. Place the Alocasia back in the same spot where it was growing before. Ensure that the location offers sufficient light.

Propagating Alocasia Zebrina

The best way to propagate an Alocasia plant is through the offset division method. As these plants are tuberous, they sprout from a central rhizome.

For this reason, they are not usually suitable for propagation by means of cutting.

This does not mean that propagating your Alocasia needs to be challenging. In fact, it is fairly easy when following these simple steps:

  1. Gently remove the plant from its pot and remove the excess soil from its roots. If the soil is clumped up, try using a gardening hose to free the roots up.
  2. Once the roots have been exposed, you will notice multiple clumps and offsets (baby plants).
  3. Gently remove the offsets using a sterilized knife, scissors or pruning tool.
  4. Place the baby plants into their own individual pots. Plastic nursery pots are recommended for soil propagation.
  5. Place the offsets where they will receive adequate light and ensure the soil has sufficient moisture. You’ll need to be patient – these plants may experience a transfer shock so new growth may take several weeks to show.
  6. Repot the parent plant and water thoroughly.
Alocasia Zebrina Plant

Alocasia Zebrina Common Problems

By following the care tips suggested thus far, your Alocasia Zebrina should remain healthy and happy.

There are, however, a number of problems that may affect even the healthiest of Alocasias. These will be outlined below.

How To Take Care Of A Alocasia Zebrina: Diseases And Pests

If your Alocasia Zebrina is well cared for, it is not particularly susceptible to diseases or pests.

While your plant might be healthy, this does not mean it is entirely immune either. Overwatering and droughts can make your plant fairly vulnerable.

Below are a few common elephant ear plant problems your Alocasia may experience, as well as how to fix them.

Root Rot

One of the most common elephant ear plant diseases is root rot, usually caused by overwatering.

Reasons for root rot include lack of light, overwatering, and insufficient drainage holes. Should your Alocasia Zebrina experience root rot, it can be remedied by following the steps below:

  1. Remove the plant from its soil and wash its roots.
  2. Use a sterilized knife or pruning tool to remove the affected parts of the roots.
  3. Wash the plant using a 5-10% diluted bleach solution. To remove any fungi, dip the remaining healthy roots in a fungicide solution.
  4. Repot your Alocasia Zebrina. Be sure to dispose of the infected soil and check that the new soil is aerated and drains well.

To avoid stressing the roots of your Alocasia, avoid feeding until the plant has fully recovered. Another trick to avoiding overwatering is to only water when the surface of the soil begins to feel dry.

Leaf Spot Disease

Leaf spot disease can come about as a result of high temperatures and humidity, poor air circulation, overwatering, and untreated root rot.

It is easy to identify as brown, orange or yellow spots will begin to form on the plant’s leaves. These spots are often accompanied by dark circular bands on the lesions.

To treat for leaf spot disease, follow these easy steps:

  1. Remove the severely affected leaves, as well as the fallen debris that lay on the soil’s surface.
  2. Gently wash the plant with water before applying a fungicide. It is recommended that you use a product that contains chlorothalonil as this will protect the plant from future attacks.
  3. Remove any further debris, as well as severely affected areas, to relieve symptoms. Move the Alocasia to a space away from other plants to prevent a further outbreak.
  4. Wash the plant regularly and remove any dust particles so that air can pass through the leaves more easily.

Alocasia Zebrina Insect Invasions

The most common critter found attacking these plants are mealy bugs. While these are most common, Alocasia Zebrina are also prone to spider mites, aphids and scale.

It is important to check routinely under the leaves and along the stem of your Alocasia for any suspicious activity.

If you notice an infestation, do not worry. You can rid your plant of an infestation by following these easy steps:

  1. Isolate your Alocasia Zebrina from other plants to prevent further outbreaks.
  2. Treat with insecticidal soap or light horticultural oil. Be sure to cover the plant thoroughly.
  3. Wipe the leaves off with a clean cloth.
  4. Repeat the process every 5 to 10 days until the problem is resolved.

Alocasia Zebrina Dropping Leaves

When Alocasia Zebrina is growing, it will sprout quite a few leaves over a short period. Once the plant has more leaves than it can hold (usually above five), it will begin to drop the weaker ones.

This is because the plant cuts off nutrients to these leaves to preserve for new growth.

Note that this is completely natural with Alocasia Zebrina plants. If anything, it is a good sign that there are new leaves on their way.

Alocasia Zebrina Leaves Turning Yellow

As previously discussed, Alocasia Zebrina can only hold around 5 leaves per plant.

Once it exceeds this number, it cuts off nutrients to the weaker leaves. During this process, the weaker leaves tend to turn yellow before falling off. This is normal and is done to allow for new growth.

Note that there are other reasons for yellowing leaves that may suggest your Alocasia Zebrina is not receiving the right care. Most often, this includes over or underwatering.

To remedy this, check your plant’s watering schedule and ensure it is receiving adequate light.

Alocasia Zebrina Brown Spots

The most common causes of brown spots are fungal disease and pest infestation. This generally comes about as a result of overwatering, low humidity, and temperature stress which makes the plant more vulnerable.

Other reasons include excessive exposure to light or fertilizer burn.

Brown spots form on the top and underside of the leaves. Should you notice brown spots forming, it is best to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

To do so, simply remove the affected leaves using a sterilized knife or pruning tool.

Following this, apply a fungicide to prevent any further stress. From there, ensure the plant is being properly cared for as per the guidelines outlined in this article.

Alocasia Zebrina Best Products

To ensure your Alocasia Zebrina grows optimally (and happily), here are a few products that you may need.

Alocasia Zebrina Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know how to care for your zebra plant, you’re pretty much set. For some additional information, here are some commonly asked questions and answers.

Why Is My Alocasia Zebrina Drooping?

Reasons for your Alocasia Zebrina drooping include lack of light and underwatering.

When your plant is not receiving enough bright, indirect sunlight, it tends to lean towards the light source. Always ensure that your plant’s light requirements are met.

Furthermore, the stems of your Alocasia will start drooping if it is no longer full of moisture. If you notice all the stems drooping, your plant may need to be watered.

Note that if only one stem starts to droop, the plant may simply be trying to replace it with a new leaf. In this case, hold back on watering.

Why Are My Alocasia Zebrina Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellowing leaves suggest that your Alocasia Zebrina is either getting too much or too little water.

While slightly moist soil is necessary for the plant’s growth, it is important to check that it is not too soggy or dry.

To remedy this, ensure the plant’s soil drains well and water only when the surface feels dry. Also, ensure your Alocasia’s humidity and light requirements are adhered to.

Why Are My Alocasia Zebrina Leaves Curling?

There are a number of reasons why your Alocasia’s leaves are curling. These include lack of light, overwatering, and low humidity levels.

Always ensure that you are providing your plant with the care it needs.

Is Alocasia Zebrina Poisonous?

Alocasia plants contain calcium oxalate crystals. This makes the plants highly poisonous to humans, horses, cats, and dogs and can be fatal when ingested.

Biting or chewing these plants can lead to extreme swelling of the upper airway, making it hard to breathe. Handling these plants without protective gloves can cause skin irritations.  

Always ensure that your Alocasia Zebrina is kept away from your pets and children. If a person or animal is to consume the plant, head to the doctor or veterinarian immediately.

Is Alocasia Easy To Care For?

Like many indoor plants, Alocasias are relatively low maintenance provided their needs are adequately met.

These plants can be quite fussy when it comes to light, temperature, humidity, soil, and water requirements.

Should you stick to the basics outlined in this guide, your Alocasia is sure to flourish for years to come.

Alocasia Zebrina Browning Edge

Browning edges are usually due to insufficient humidity or lack of moisture. Optimal watering is necessary to keep your plant thriving.

Ensure you Alocasia Zebrina is watered regularly during its growing season.

Keep the soil moist but be sure to not overwater. Allow the surface of the soil to dry between watering.

To naturally increase humidity, mist your Alocasia once a day or place it on a pebble tray.

When Is The Dormant Period Of The Alocasia Zebrina?

The dormant period of the Alocasia Zebrina generally begins in late autumn and lasts the entire winter. During this time, active growth stops and resumes at the beginning of spring.

Should You Mist Your Alocasia Zebrina?

Much like other elephant ear plants, Alocasia Zebrina loves warm, humid conditions. If the environment your plant is in is not sufficiently humid (above 60%), misting is advised.

Do so up to twice daily. If you have other measures in place, such as a pebble tray or humidifier, misting may not be needed.

Is Alocasia Zebrina a Good Houseplant?

With its large leaves and black zebra-esque printed stems, Alocasia Zebrina is truly beautiful. With its striking appearance, this plant will brighten up the corner of any room in your home.

Just be sure that wherever you place it, the area is well-lit and is sufficiently humid.

Zebrina Alocasia Care – Final Thoughts

With its yellow and black striped stems, the Alocasia Zebrina is a truly unique species and a lovely addition to your home.

Like many indoor plants, it is relatively low maintenance provided it is properly cared for.

By following the guidelines outlined in the article and providing a little TLC, your Alocasia is sure to thrive.

Interested in adding another elephant ear to your collection? Check out the exotic, emerald-green Alocasia Baginda.

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