Calathea zebrina Plant Care

Table of Contents

as an animal kingdom name, zebra plant. Its foliage has bright hues of green with stripes resembling that of a zebra. These huge ovate leaves can be found at the tip of long stalks. The exotic plant provides a gorgeous visual display with velvety patterned leaves.

One thing is sure when you have this tropical plant in your home. Everyone stops to look twice. Just imagine your friends asking what type of plant is this. You reply a zebra plant! A what?

Yes, this is the type of reaction you can expect. You will be a proud owner when you have one.

What is the Zebra Plant?

The zebra plant is exotic foliage from Brazil and needs moist and warm environments to thrive. It has striking leaves, with the underside having a purple hue not always visible. The leaves grow horizontally, while some might curve upright.

The Calathea is also known as the prayer plant as it closes up its leaves at night as if in prayer and is fantastic to watch. It has clump-forming leaves sitting on top of stalks. When taken care of well, this plant will outshine some of your houseplants.

Now that we are on the subject of Calathea zebrina care, let’s get you started with some in-depth information on how to do it.

Calathea Zebrina Care

calathea zebrina plant

Before we get into all the details about taking care of the Calathea zebrina, here is a shortlist of the essential things to know.

Botanical Name: Calathea zebrina

Common Name: Zebra plant

Plant type: Herbaceous perennial

Native to: Southeastern side of Brazil

Leaf: Colorful evergreen

Maximum Size: 3 ft. tall

Watering Requirements: Medium

Light Requirements: Bright indirect light

Preferred Humidity:  High

Preferred Temperature: 65°F-75°F (18°C to 23°C)

Soil or Potting Medium: Peat-based potting mix

Fertilizer: Diluted liquid fertilizer

Propagation Method: Division

Toxicity: Non-toxic

Vulnerable to: Pest, humidity, and watering

Now, let’s check further the detailed guide on how to take care of your zebra plant.

What Is The Best Soil For The Zebra Plant?

peat moss based soil

When it comes to the Calathea zebrina potting mix, peat-based soil is preferred. To achieve the best result, you can mix two parts peat with one part perlite. Keep the soil well-drained that it only holds back just enough moisture.

An African violet potting mix will do. Or, you can make a blend using part soil, part sand, and perlite with two parts peat moss or coir.

How Much Water Does Your Zebra Plant Need?

When the growing season starts, your plant will need more watering. The zebra plant is moisture-loving foliage needing wet soil to survive. Try to keep the soil moist most of the time but not to the point that it’s overly soggy.

During winter, it helps to reduce watering as your exotic plant slows down growth. This time, you have to wait for the ground to dry between watering.

What Are The Best Lighting Conditions?

The zebra plant is picky when it comes to light. Your plant does not enjoy either extreme low light levels or even direct sunlight. What does work for your zebra plants is a lovely bright indirect light spot. So you can place them where filtered bright light is present through sheer curtains.

The plant does well in a north-facing window. Please make sure you shield it from the direct sun if placed in another setting. Receiving too much sun can cause leaf burn leaving it with bright hues. If treated as an outdoor plant, make sure that they stay in a shady place.

What Are the Temperature and Humidity Demands?

plant temperature requirement

For your tropical plant to thrive, the room temperature needs to range between 65°F-75°F (18°C to 23°C). It does not do well with extremely low temperatures.

On the other hand, the zebra plant does not enjoy overheating. It’s best to keep it away from heating vents and cold drafts. We told you this plant is picky, so be extra patient. Humidity level should also be high.

You can provide your plant with some misting to add extra moisture. If you find it does not work, you can place them on a humidity tray or use a humidifier.

How Frequent Should Fertilization Be?

plant liquid fertilizer

While the Calathea zebrina is not a big feeder, you can provide it with a liquid fertilizer. Do this in the growing season by diluting the strength to half. Then, you can feed your plant once every two weeks. During the winter season, you can stop feeding your plant. Give it time to rest.

How often is the Repotting?

Do repotting during the growing season. Your plant will go through a growth cycle from mid-spring and lasts until fall.

You can transplant your Calathea annually or semi-annually during spring or summer. For repotting, use a quality peat-based potting medium. Whether you’re repotting or propagating, you can use the same recipe: one part perlite and two parts peat.

Calathea Zebrina Propagation

As with most exotic plants, you want to make sure you have duplicates just in case something happens, right? Then, you can propagate your zebra plant. The best method is through division. The reason for this is that the leaves emerge from a central rootstock. A clump of roots forms and spread from the middle and is best done with repotting.

  1. When repotting and removing your plant from the pot, you can divide the zebra plant in half.
  2. Sometimes it is best to find smaller pieces of the mother plant as you can plant these sections individually into pots with the roots intact.
  3. Cover your new plants with plastic to help keep them warm and moist.

You should notice new growth in a month and remove the plastic, allowing it to grow normally.

What Are The Suited Growth Zones?

Good news if you live in a warm climate with humidity living in the USDA zone 8 or above, you can try to grow your Calathea in your garden.

Calathea Varieties

Yes, we know it only takes one look to realize why this foliage is elaborate and famous as a houseplant. The best part is you can find different varieties to stand next to your zebra plant, as seen here:

Calathea orbifolia

calathea orbifolia

Do you want to make a bold statement? Then this plant is a show stopper and gem for your home. It has large, robust leaves with a metallic pattern. The foliage streaked in silver with a leathery feel can grow up to 12-inches wide.

Calathea warscewiczii

Calathea warscewiczii

Calathea warscewiczii is native to Costa Rica and Nicaragua and looks fabulous indoor plant. Another name it goes by is the Calathea Jungle Velvet that is easier to pronounce. It has lance-shaped velvety dark green leaves with a lighter green banding forming a fishtail pattern. The undersides are rich purple, and the leaves fold close at night.

Calathea makoyana

calathea makoyana

The Peacock plant or Catherdral Window is an elaborate plant with egg-shaped foliage. On the underside of the leaves, it has a purple hue and has light green to dark green peacock markings. Added to your zebra plant and other Calathea exotic collection, it will blend in superbly.

Calathea Zebrina Diseases & Pests

As with most plants, the zebra plant can have damaged or diseased leaves you can trim off. It’s important to dust off the leaves after a few days. Please do not use any shining products. Just use a soft, damp cloth to clean the foliage. Occasionally you can give your plant a lukewarm shower drying off the leaves with a cloth. Other concerns to keep an eye on is as follow:

Drooping Leaves

If you notice this happening to your zebra plant, it might be getting too cold or exposed to draughts. You may find if the air turns dry, the leaves might also droop and needs an increase in humidity. Yet, if the problem persists too long, the damage is irreversible. So please, if you do start noticing drooping leaves, you can move your plant to a warmer spot.

Yellow Leaves

It could be that your zebra plants are not getting enough water. To remove the problem, you can keep the soil moist in the growing season. Alternatively, you can place it in a self-watering container. Another concern with underwatering is if the leaves curl up.

Limp Stems

When your Calathea shows signs of limp leaves, it can be from overwatering during the winter months. Or the temperature is too low and can lead to stem rotting.

Leaves Pointing Up

There is no concern if this happens as it closes its leaves at night and opens up in the morning. The concern is when leaves fade due to improper lighting from too little or too much. Another concern is gray mold that develops on the leaves. It usually happens when the humidity is highly muggy. It helps to trim back portions of leaves affected by the decay to provide ventilation.


While pests do not visit your plant Calathea, you still need to watch for scale, spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. Treating spider mites helps to use insecticidal soap and keep the humidity levels at the desired level. For the other insects, you can use neem oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do my Calathea Zebrina leaves have brown edges?

A common reason for this is that you use tap water as it turns the leaves brown on the edges. Tap water contains chlorine, salts, and other chemicals building up in the soil. We recommend using distilled water for your plant.

Whare is Calathea Zebrina's benefits?

The Calathea is an air purifying plant and an eye-catcher as well. Having the zebra plant in your home provides you with a healthy indoor climate, and it closes its leaves at night.

Why is my Calathea Zebrina leaves curling?

Leaves curling in the zebra plant is a sign of dehydration leading to water loss. It can also be because of low humidity or excess heat, overfertilizing, root rot, or a disease.

Where can you buy Calathea Zebrina?

There are many local nurseries and online botanical gardens selling Calathea plants. But the good news is that Plantly can provide you with this exotic foliage here. You need not leave your home as you receive your plant delivered to your door.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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