Calathea zebrina, also known as the zebra plant, is native to Brazil. The plant grows in shaded areas under the tree canopy and does not tolerate full sun. Its name is a reflection of the vibrant stripes on its foliage.
Calathea Zebrina Appearance
Calathea zebrina features bright-green foliage with bold stripes of white, yellow, or pink in a feather pattern. The plant grows to 3 feet (1 m) in height and width and the leaves mature to 2 feet (61 cm) in length. Foliage rises from a central rosette, with mature leaves making room for new leaves as they emerge. Blooms of the zebrina Calathea are tiny, white, and often hidden under the lush foliage. Remove the blooms, if desired, to allow the plant to redirect energy into leaf creation.
Calathea Zebrina Sunlight Requirements
Grow Calathea zebrina in indirect light near a North-facing window when possible. Filtered light through a sheer curtain is also acceptable. Proper Calathea care through preferred lighting brightens the foliage color. Avoid direct sunlight as it burns the leaves and fades the leaves’ stripes.
Water Calathea zebrina once per week or when the soil’s top inch feels dry when a finger is inserted. Use room temperature distilled or rainwater to avoid leaf damage from cold water or excess minerals. Water more often in the spring and summer, less in the winter. Curling leaves on a zebrina Calathea indicate too little moisture and the frequency of waterings needs increasing.
Temperature and Humidity
Keep temperatures for Calathea zebrina between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 Celsius). Humidity levels of 60 percent or higher is best for optimal growth and lush foliage. Mist the plant’s leaves several times per week to increase humidity. In dry climates, place a tray filled with pebbles and water under the plant’s pot to supplement moisture between waterings.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
Grow Calathea zebrina in a well-draining soil mixture of 2 parts peat and 1 part perlite. An African Violet potting soil also provides proper drainage. The soil should hold moisture but not allow water to pool on the surface. Feed the plant once every two weeks with ½ strength, liquid houseplant fertilizer. Feed in the spring and summer only when growth rate is highest.
Calathea Zebrina Propagation
Division is the recommended method of propagating the zebrina Calathea. Divide mature plants when several rosettes appear at the base of the mother plant. Propagate in the spring, preferably once the mature plant requires repotting. Place the pot on its side and remove the plant, taking care not to damage the roots. Use your hands to separate the offshoot plants at their natural divisions. Each new plant must have an intact root ball to grow from. Fill new pots ⅓ full with a peat-based soil mixture, adding perlite for drainage. Place new plants in the pots and backfill with the same soil. Water the plants until the soil is moist and set it in indirect sunlight. New roots will grow in four to six weeks.
Calathea Zebrina Pests and Disease
A sign of aphid or scale infestation is the presence of sticky honeydew on your plant’s leaves and stems. Honeydew and waxy fibers are left by mealybugs, while spider mites leave fine webs throughout the plant. Remove adult insects using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Scale sometimes requires more force and scraping with a fingernail removes them. Follow up by treating the entire plant with an insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Improper Calathea zebrina care by overwatering or low temperatures is the common cause of root rot. Correct the issue by removing the plant from its pot and inspecting the roots. Trim dark, mushy roots with sterilized shears and repot the plant in fresh soil. An abundance of affected roots require spraying with 1 part hydrogen peroxide mixed with 2 parts water to kill the bacteria before repotting. Decrease watering and ensure your zebrina Calathea receives adequate heat and humidity.
Calathea zebrina’s showy foliage makes it a sought after houseplant by many collectors. As with most Calathea plants, it is particular about its growing conditions and presents a challenge for novice growers. Careful Calathea zebrina care will reward you with a lush and stunning houseplant.
Calathea Zebrina FAQ
Brown and dried leaf edges are an indication of too little humidity. Increase the air’s humidity level by adding a room humidifier or using a pebble tray filled with water under the plant’s pot.
No, all types of Calathea are considered safe for pets.
Repot your zebrina Calathea in the spring before rapid growth starts. A mature plant, ready for repotting, will have filled its current pot with several new rosettes. Repotting is a good time to divide the mature plant into smaller plants.
Any room with adequate temperature and humidity levels will suffice. For drier climates, a humid kitchen or bathroom is an ideal choice.
Yes, these Calathea plants grow outdoors in USDA zones 11 and 12, or similar tropical climates. Plant them in dappled shade, never full sun, to recreate their natural habitat.