Native to the Brazilian rainforest, zebra plants are popular houseplants that are named after the eye-catching zebra stripes pattern on their leaves. With a little care and attention, zebra plants can be persuaded to bloom and even produce cuttings for new plants.
Maintaining the Correct Room Temperature
Zebra plants thrive in warm, humid places. They prefer to be kept at around 20 degrees Celsius during the day and around 15 degrees Celsius at night. They also don't like drafts, so it's best to keep a zebra plant in a room without air conditioning, or at least locate it well away from the unit.
Zebra Plants and Humidity
Due to their rainforest origins, zebra plants love humid conditions. Australian growers of zebra plants often run humidifiers to increase the water content of the air and keep the plants happy. However, this can be an expensive and uncomfortable option for those who just want to keep their houseplant alive. Misting the plant with a water spray bottle a few times a day is an acceptable alternative.
Watering a Zebra Plant
Although zebra plants love to be surrounded by humid air, they don't thrive in wet soil. Zebra plant owners should use a well-draining potting medium and aim to keep it slightly moist, rather than wet. Owners can tell if their zebra plant is over-watered by its drooping leaves.
How to Get a Zebra Plant to Bloom
The zebra plant goes into a dormant state in early winter and remains dormant throughout the cooler months. During this time, zebra plants require only a little watering - just enough to keep the soil from completely drying out. As spring approaches, new growth begins, and plant owners can help it on its way by feeding the plant with a weak fertiliser solution once every two weeks. Owners should move their zebra plants to a sunny windowsill and start watering and misting more frequently as soon as side shoots start to appear. This will encourage the plant to produce new flowers.
Zebra plant flowers only last for a few days, but they leave behind red, orange or yellow bracts that can last for months. When the bracts die - usually around the end of the summer - they should be removed and the plant cut back in preparation for its next dormant phase.
How to Propagate Zebra Plants
Zebra plants often live for only a few years, but owners can continue to enjoy their colourful bracts by growing new plants from cuttings. The best way to propagate a zebra plant is to take a 10-15 cm stem cutting, remove the bottom leaves, and place the stem directly into a potting medium to allow new roots to form.
Although relatively short-lived, zebra plants can produce beautiful blooms. The key to caring for a zebra plant is not to over-water it, particularly during winter. Keeping the plant in the warmest and most humid part of the home is a good way to ensure that it thrives and blooms.