Alocasia Zebrina is a popular houseplant that is known for its striking foliage. This plant is native to Southeast Asia and belongs to the Araceae family. It is a tropical plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
Unlike its Alocasia genus relatives, the Alocasia Zebrina is not prized for its foliage; its unique zebra-like stems are what steal the show. Besides its unique stem, this exotic plant has dark green leaves and will surely add character and personality to any space in your home.
Before you go on a hunt for this beauty, there are some things you need to know before getting your hands on alocasia zebrina.
Just a fair warning, if you’re looking for an easy-to-grow houseplant, the alocasia zebrina might not be for you, as not everyone can imitate its natural habitat. However, if you’re up for an exciting gardening challenge, this plant can be rewarding to care for indoors and is sure to light up any space.
And let me tell you, Alocasia zebrina is an absolute delight to have in your plant collection. As a master gardener, I’ve had the pleasure of growing this tropical beauty for several years, and it never fails to captivate me with its stunning foliage.
One of the first things I discovered about Alocasia zebrina is its preference for bright, indirect light. I’ve found that placing it near a north-facing window or providing it with filtered sunlight allows it to thrive. Direct sunlight can scorch its leaves, so I’ve learned to be mindful of its light requirements. There are tons of more tips and tricks that you can keep in mind to successfully grow an alocasia zebrina in your home.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about planting, growing, and caring for Alocasia Zebrina, including propagation, potting, pest management, and more.
Botanical Name: Alocasia zebrina
Common Name: Zebra plant, tiger taro (gabing tigre) , zebrina Alocasia, alocasia tigrina
Plant Type: Perennial, bulb
Hardiness Zones: 10-11 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Partial
Soil Type: Moist but well-draining
Soil pH: Acidic, neutral
Height: 3 ft. tall (indoors)
Bloom Time: Spring, summer
Flower Color: Green and brown
Native Area: Asia
Alocasia Zebrina Care
Also known as Elephant Ear Alocasia, this tropical aroid is native to the Philippines and is a popular houseplant worldwide, although it can also be grown outdoors- under certain climates. This plant is somewhat difficult to find and even trickier to grow since it is known for being picky about its growing environment and conditions.
But although some growers find it hard to keep those tropical plants indoors, they can thrive in most homes under adequate conditions. The trick is understanding its natural environment and how it grows and trying to mimic it.
Think of consistent moisture, filtered light, and warm temperatures. Like all aroid plants, the Alocasia Zebrina is a flowering plant, and while its blooms are not particularly interesting and it’s considered rare for it to flower indoors.
Alocasia Zebrina appreciates bright indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can scorch its leaves, while too little light can cause stunted growth and yellowing leaves. Place your plant in a bright spot near a window, but out of direct sunlight. If you notice that your plant is not getting enough light, consider supplementing with a grow light.
It’s important to note that alocasia zebrina is a shade-loving plant. In its natural habitat, it grows under the canopy of the rainforest, protected from the harsh rays of the sun. To mimic this environment, you can place your plant near a sheer curtain or in a room with filtered light.
If you have a north-facing or an east-facing window, place your tropical plant directly in front of it to maximize the light it receives. If you only have a west or south-facing window, set your Zebrina back from the window by a couple of feet to avoid harsh direct sunlight.
You can filter this light with a window film or a sheer curtain. Again, keep in mind that your alocasia zebrina is sensitive to leaf burn if exposed to harsh light but is also prone to drop leaves in low light conditions.
When choosing the best soil for the alocasia zebrina, there are two things to remember. One, this tropical plant requires a lot of nutrients to thrive, and two, they have delicate roots, so they do not tolerate wet feet and are prone to root rot.
This being said, your soil mix should be well-draining and rich in organic materials. A mixture of equal parts of coco peat, potting soil, pumice, or perlite is ideal. It also likes to be slightly root-bound, so plant it in a pot that’s just a bit larger than the root ball.
When potting your alocasia zebrina, make sure to choose a container with drainage holes. This will prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged and promote healthy root growth. You can also add a layer of gravel or small rocks to the bottom of the pot to improve drainage.
These plants love moisture, but be careful not to overwater. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings, and never let the plant sit in standing water. If you notice yellowing leaves, it could be a sign of overwatering or poor drainage. In the wintertime when the plant goes dormant, reduce watering significantly.
In general, this unique plant enjoys frequent misting and weekly watering sessions; it is essential to avoid wet soil. During winter, allowing the top 2 inches of soil to dry completely between watering is recommended to prevent root rot and to overwater.
While the zebrina plant shouldn’t be left in soggy soil, it’s also not drought tolerant, so long periods of dryness can turn the plant’s leaf edges brown.
This Alocasia plant thrives at 64-77ºF. Avoid cold drafts and abrupt temperature changes. Maintaining an adequate temperature range for this plant is an essential aspect of its maintenance.
Keep your plant at room temperature. If this tropical plant is exposed to reduced temperatures, its growth may become slower and could result in leaf loss.
Being a tropical plant, the Alocasia Zebrina appreciates a humid environment; the more it dries out, the more vulnerable it becomes to pests.
To create an adequate environment for this plant, you can occasionally mist it, use a small humidifier, place it near other plants, in the bathroom, or place it on a tray with pebbles partly filled with water.
Providing a high humidity environment for your plant can also prevent its leaves from becoming dusty and make it healthier and happy.
All alocasias are heavy feeders, with this unique plant being no exception. In addition to a rich soil mix, you can fertilize your alocasia zebrina with a balanced houseplant liquid fertilizer once or twice a month during active growing seasons in spring and summer for healthy and vigorous growth.
Fertilizer should not be applied outside the active growing season since it can damage the plant’s leaves or the complete plant. When you overfeed your plant, salt can build up in the soil, leading to the plant’s death.
When fertilizing your alocasia zebrina, be careful not to overdo it. Too much fertilizer can burn the roots and damage the plant. Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and err on the side of caution.
To keep your alocasia zebrina looking its best, regularly remove any yellow or damaged leaves. You can also cut back any new growth that looks unhealthy or spindly. Prune with sharp, clean scissors to avoid damaging the plant.
Pruning your Alocasia Zebrina will not only improve its appearance but also promote healthy growth. By removing dead or diseased leaves, you will prevent the spread of disease and allow the plant to focus its energy on new growth.
How to Propagate Alocasia Zebrina
Propagating your alocasia zebrina is a great way to create new life. This plant can be easily propagated by growing its corms (underground plant stems that develop within the roots) or by division or harvesting.
Both of these methods require a healthy and mature plant, and the best time to do it is during its active growing season (spring and summer).
To propagate by growing corms:
- Take your alocasia zebrina out of its pot and remove excess soil from the roots.
- Dig around the soil for small corms, which will be attached to the plant’s roots.
- Cut the corms from the roots at the corm’s base carefully. Make sure the corms are firm and round.
- Peel the corm’s outside husk to expose the light green center and place it in a container with moistened sphagnum moss.
- The corm should be facing up. You can ensure this step by pointing the rough side down and the pointy tip up.
- Create a greenhouse-like environment by placing a small resealable plastic bag over the container and closing it. Place the container where it can receive bright indirect light.
- Unseal the bag 10-15 minutes once a week to encourage oxygen flow. After 10-15 days, you should see foliage or roots growing from the corms.
- When the roots are 1 to two inches long, new plants can be potted into a well-draining potting mix.
- After repotting your new plants, you can place them in a bright area where they can receive indirect light and keep the soil evenly moist.
To propagate by division
- Take your alocasia zebrina out of its pot and gently remove any excess soil
- Each plant will grow from an individual bulb
- Divide the alocasia zebrina by reparation the roots and bulbs from one another
- Pot the newly separated plants in a container with well-draining soil mix and water thoroughly
- Relocate the new plants where they can receive bright indirect light
It is essential to use a sharp, sterile cutting blade (dip the blades in alcohol as a sterilizing method) to avoid any infection or disease to the plant.
Potting and Repotting Alocasia Zebrina
One of the essential things to keep in mind when potting and repotting alocasia zebrina is to pay attention to the changes in your plant’s growth. These plants like to be slightly root-bound, so only repot it when necessary. Repotting your plant too often can cause stress to the plant and affect its growth.
When it’s time to repot your alocasia zebrina, here are the basic steps you need to follow:
- Carefully remove the plant from its pot, being mindful not to damage the roots. You can do this by gently tipping the pot on its side and gently pulling the plant out.
- Once you have removed the plant from the pot, clean any old soil and dead roots from the root ball. This will ensure that the plant has a fresh start in its new pot.
- Place a layer of fresh soil mix at the bottom of the new pot. This will provide a good foundation for the plant to grow in.
- Position the plant in the pot and fill in around the root ball with fresh soil. Make sure to leave enough space for the roots to grow and spread out.
- Water the plant thoroughly. This will help to settle the soil and ensure that the plant has enough moisture to start growing in its new pot.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Alocasia Zebrina
One of the most common pests that can affect alocasia zebrina is spider mites. These tiny pests are often found on the undersides of leaves and can cause significant damage to the plant if left untreated.
To prevent spider mites from infesting your plant, it is important to keep humidity levels high and regularly mist the leaves. This will help to deter spider mites from settling on your plant. If you do notice an infestation, you can use a neem oil or insecticidal soap to control the problem.
Another common pest that can affect alocasia zebrina is mealybugs. These pests look like small, white cotton balls and can cause stunted growth and yellowing leaves if left untreated. To remove individual mealybugs, you can use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Alternatively, you can use insecticidal soap to control the infestation.
Alocasia aebrina is also susceptible to root rot, mostly resulting from poor drainage and improper watering. Signs of root rot include mushy brown stems, dropping leaves, and yellowing leaves.
If you suspect that your plant has root rot, it is important to act quickly to prevent further damage. To treat root rot, remove the plant from its pot, cut away any affected roots, and replant it in fresh soil. Be sure to provide your plant with proper drainage to prevent future occurrences of root rot.
Alocasia Zebrina Common Problems
It’s common to run into different issues while growing an alocasia zebrina, which is a tropical indoor plant that requires particular care to meet its ideal conditions. Watch out for any of these common problems.
Dropping Leaves/Yellow Leaves
Leaves dropping or turning yellow is the main sign that something is off in your alocasia zebrina’s environment. Underwatering, overwatering, root rot, lack of light, and lack of moisture are all possible causes of dropping leaves. Keep a close eye on your plant’s care techniques to figure out what’s causing any of these problems.
This is a common sign that your alocasia zebrina might be experiencing a lack of humidity or moisture. Ensure you don’t place your plant near air vents or drafty windows and do not let it dry out too much between waterings.
Have you ever spotted water drops on your plant’s leaves? This happens when you’ve overwatered your plant a little too much, and it’s trying to “sweat” the water excess off. While sweating leaves are not a reason for concern, keep an eye out for your plant’s watering needs.
The yellow coloration on this plant’s leaves suggests it had been overwatered. Let the topsoil dry out in between waterings, especially during cold seasons.
Brown edges are a common indication that this plant has been scorched by direct sunlight or has been underwatered. Make sure your zebrina plant only receives bright indirect sunlight.
This issue usually occurs during fall and winter when this plant enters dormancy as days shorten and temperature drop. If this happens, ensure proper environmental conditions.
Alocasia Zebrina Toxicity
This Zebrina plant makes stunning and fabulous houseplants, but as pretty as they are, they can be harmful if they’re ingested.
Alocasia zebrinas contain oxalate crystals that can accuse nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, skin irritation, and mouth pain. This plant should be kept out of reach of children and all kinds of pets.
If your little one or your pet is exposed to this plant, you can help them by following these simple steps
- Gently wipe their mouth
- Have them spit and rinse with fresh water to remove any visible plants from the mouth
- If the mouth is visibly irritated or swollen, sucking on frozen treats or ice can relieve the pain
- If they’re experiencing vomiting or nausea, keep them hydrated with tiny sips of clean water
- If possible, seek medical attention.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.