Alocasia Zebrina: The #1 Care, Propagation, and Watering Guide

Alocasia zebrina is one of the most beautiful Alocasias for many reasons, but never for its flowers. This tropical plant is a favorite of many plant collectors due to its distinctive brown and white striped stems, resembling a Zebra pattern. The lovely Alocasia zebrina surely looks dazzling as an exotic backdrop, with its large, arrow-shaped leaves on its upright stems. In this article, learn how to care for Alocasia Zebrina.

Alocasia Zebrina

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However, despite being one of those famous Alocasia varieties, it is not a plant for beginners. On the contrary, the Alocasia zebrina plant care requires specific techniques and attention. 

But do not worry! All the essentials you need to know before getting this plant will be discussed individually and thoroughly in this article. We got everything you need to know so that you will have the best time with your rare Alocasia.

Alocasia Zebrina Profile

Alocasia Zebrina Profile

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General Information

Alocasia zebrina hails from the tropical rainforests of the Philippine archipelago. Its native habitat is generally at a high elevation over thin soils of rocky terrain. It is now distributed widely in Southeast Asia and cultivated for its unique beauty.

This particular Alocasia plant is now considered as a rare plant due to overharvesting in its wild habitat. However, due to aggressive propagation and through the advent of tissue cultures, wild collection of the Zebrina Alocasia became unnecessary. 

Zebrina Character Traits

Every plant has its own characteristics or traits, as well as its own struggles. For instance, some plants are known for growing beautiful flowers, while others take pride in their magnificent foliage. 

For Zebrina, it has peculiar traits that look worse than they actually are. An excellent example of this is dropping leaves. You might notice that your Zebrina drops a few leaves that look brown and dead. This is quite a normal phenomenon for Zebrina since it cuts off nutrients to the weakest leaves and redirects them for new growth. So when you see 1-2 leaves looking like this, you should see it as a good sign as fresh leaves are about to sprout. 

Another character trait of Zebrina is sweating leaves. This just means that it is trying to “sweat off” excess water. This is no reason for concern. Just make sure not to overwater them all the time.

Other common names for this plants include: 

  • Alocasia Elephant Ear
  • Alocasia Reticulata Zebrina
  • Alocasia Zebrina Tiger
  • Alocasia Leopard
  • Zebra Alocasia

Etymology

Alocasia comes from the Greek word kolokāsiā, which means lotus root.

Flowering

These tropical beauties, like other plants, will blossom when they achieve maturity and are given ideal growth circumstances. However, Alocasia Zebrina is grown for its distinct stems and attractive leaves rather than its flowers because it rarely produces blossoms.

 Its flowers are anthurium-like, consisting of a white sterile finger-like spadix surrounded by a pale yellow petal/modified leaf known as its spathe. 

Season of Interest and Purchasing

The Alocasia zebrina plant actively grows during spring and summer and goes into dormancy during the winter. However, dormancy does not mean it is dead. Instead, think of it as the hibernation of plants. This will end up rightfully when the temperatures rise again.    

Growth

Other Alocasia plants can grow much bigger, but Zebrina is the perfect houseplant because it only takes enough space to be noticed and enjoyed. 

Zebrinas range in varying sizes. They can grow from small plants like bulbs to large mature plants that can be as tall as 3 feet. 

Alocasia zebrina Overview

Scientific nameAlocasia zebrina
Common name/sZebrina Alocasia, Alocasia Elephant Ear, Alocasia Leopard, Zebra Alocasia
FamilyAraceae
Growth HabitHerbaceous
Height and SpreadCan have a height of up to 3 feet
Classification based on life cyclePerennial
Origin and DistributionNative range is Southeast Asia
Climate ZoneGenerally warmer climate
USDA Plant Hardiness ZoneUSDA Zone 9 – 11
ColorGreen arrowshaped foliage with distinct white and brown striped stems

RELATED: The 28 Most Gorgeous Alocasia Types You Can Grow In Your Homes

Care Tips

Alocasia zebrina Care tips

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Light Requirement

Like other tropical plants, Zebrina craves a lot of sunlight. This is because it has beautiful leaves that need light to make food and produce its beautiful colors. Unfortunately, when you see a Zebrina with subtle or fewer variegations, it’s probably not getting enough light. 

Consequently, too much light might also do damage to your plant. One good indicator to always check is your plants’ leaves. If the leaves start to get slightly yellow, you might want to move your plant to a more shady spot. 

It is recommended that Zebrina be placed in a room with a south-facing window, so it gets a lot of sun during the day. Avoid putting it right next to the window, though, as it may burn your plant. You may also rotate the plant if needed so that the plant does not grow more to one side. 

Temperature Requirement

The tropical Alocasia zebrina grows well in temperatures ranging from mild to moderate. Because of this, it makes a great houseplant. The optimal temperature range for this plant is between 60 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (16 and 30 degrees Celsius). Even if the temperature reaches 95 degrees, there will be no problem. But any more than that, it will start to have difficulties. 

It’s cold tolerance is slightly higher than other houseplants. However, it becomes strained if the temperature falls below 50 degrees. Therefore, both indoors and outdoors, low humidity environments must be avoided.

Humidity and Water Requirement

Although Zebrinas love humid climates. They do not really like being watered a lot. In fact, it might be better to underwater this plant slightly. It won’t need to be watered as much as you think since its stems contain a lot of moisture. This serves as their reservoir if ever they get too thirsty. 

It is best to water your plant according to its needs. One good indication to water them is when all the stems start to droop slightly. This means that most of their reserved moisture has already been consumed and needs replenishing. Otherwise, you don’t need to water your plant just yet when only one stem droops. It could just mean that it is about to be shed and replaced with a new leaf.

When watering, you might want to pay attention to the bottoms of the pot. If water seeps out of the draining hole, this probably means that the soil has already absorbed all the moisture it can. The goal is only to keep the soil evenly moist and slightly damp but not to make your plant sit in wet soil. Still, the best way to determine is to observe the stems or lift the pot. If the pot seems too light, water it. 

Soil Requirement

We know that soil is a very important element when it comes to growing plants. However, depending on each plant they have their own unique needs and preferences. 

As mentioned above, Zebrina is better underwatered than overwatered, as it could kill the plant. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to use very well-draining soil. Using organic material is a great way to attain the consistency and fertility you want. Use coarse potting sand or a permeable soil mix made up of one part peat and one part perlite. 

A very well-draining soil would remove all the excess water out of the pot, and it will only be able to absorb a minimal amount of water that won’t be a danger to causing root rot or pests. 

The ideal pH range is 5 to 8, which is acidic to slightly alkaline. Your plant will have total access to the nutrients it needs if you grow it at the proper pH.

RELATED: How To Care For Alocasia Polly? All the Questions and Answers You Need

Fertilizer Requirement

Like other tropical plants, Zebrina has its own time for growing. Usually, they grow really quickly from spring to early autumn. So this is the perfect time for you to feed your plant.

Giving your Zebrina fertilizer every two weeks will give it the energy it needs to keep growing quickly. Make sure that the fertilizer remnants are flushed out every few months to avoid build-up. 

To do this, you should water your plant thoroughly and let the excess water drain through the bottom of the pot. This will help flush the excess minerals and keep the soil habitable for your plant.

Space Requirement

The spacing required depends on the plant being grown. Your Alocasia zebrina can be placed anywhere with enough room for them to spread out.

Growing and Planting Tips

Growing and Planting Tips

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Propagation

Alocasia zebrina rhizomes are used to propagate the plant. The Alocasia zebrina plant frequently produces offspring, making propagation relatively easy. The tiny plants that develop from the parent plant’s roots can be removed and grown as separate plants.   

The best time to propagate Alocasia is during spring or the first part of summer.

Method for propagation

  • Remove the mother plant by carefully digging around it with a shovel.
  • Prevent injuring the roots or rhizomes. Lift the plant gently from the ground; several tubers should be just beneath the surface. 
  • Clean the soil away and separate the tubers carefully.
  • Next process, plant the rhizomes in a new place. Choose a location with rich, moist, loamy soil and some shade.   
  • Dig a hole just deep enough to accommodate the tuber. 
  • Give the young plant lots of water, and you should notice new growth in no time. 
  • If you’re growing alocasia plants in pots, make sure they’re kept warm and humid to get enough water. 

Pruning

Alocasia zebrina plants must also be pruned regularly. Though gorgeous, it may become untidy and ugly if not properly maintained. The most common reasons for pruning your plant are trimming or removing damaged leaves. The Zebrina plants have a greater leaf turnover than typical houseplants, so cut foliage is quickly replaced.

On the other hand, yellow leaves may make any plant seem boring and unpleasant. Also, if a leaf or vine has been infected with fungus or is sick, cut it off. Trim the leaves from the stem base, but be careful not to injure the new sprouts. Lastly, sterilized pruning shears should be used during pruning to avoid disease or infection.

RELATED: Alocasia wentii: The #1 Care, Watering, and Propagation Guide

Potting and Repotting

Alocasia zebrina prefers to be stacked neatly in a tiny pot. However, this plant does not require frequent repotting, but it is sometimes necessary. For example, if your plant has poorly become rootbound, it will need to be repotted. If you want to make your plants more appealing, place them in decorative pots and baskets. 

Repotting your Alocasia plant is best done in the spring. This will aid in the total recovery of your plant. Do not repot it during the fall and winter months because the plant is dormant. Furthermore, the container’s size should never be increased by more than an inch or two. The root system of a potted Zebrina plant will extend if the container is too big for it.

Alocasia Zebrina Care

LightBright indirect
Temperature60-86 degrees Fahrenheit
WaterOnce a week, increased in summer, decreased in winter
SoilWell-draining and organic, moist soil
FertilizationOnce a month, no fertilization needed in winter
SpaceMinimal space
PropagationVia rhizome division
BloomingRarely blooms, enough sunlight and maturity needed
PruningWhen needed, removal of damaged and decaying leaves
PottingRegular potting mix or Aroid mix, use of perlite and peat moss recommended,

Pests and Diseases

Common Pests/DiseasesSymptomsTreatment and Prevention

Common diseases include leaf spotting, root rotting, fungal diseases, stem and crown rotting. 
Black or dark brown spots with yellow rim around
Do not overwater and maintain proper humidity levels. Extremely wet environments enhance fungal growth.Proper ventilation is necessary. Removal of infected plant parts to avoid spreading of disease.



Common pests include aphids, scales, mealybugs, spider mites


Visible insects thriving on surfaceWarm, soapy water can be sprayed once a month. Neem oil, herbal spray, or commercial insecticides can also be used.

Problems and Troubleshooting

Problems with Alocasia Zebrina

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Overwatering

Drooping or yellowing leaves are a common problem with Alocasia species. One probable reason is overwatering. The Alocasia zebrina plant is also prone to root rot, especially when the plant has been irrigated excessively. Water the plant only when the top few inches seem dry to avoid or limit root rot. 

Make sure that your watering and feeding schedule is correct, and make any necessary adjustments.

Underwatering

Alocasia zebrina thrives in damp soil and will droop if it becomes fully dry. If the soil dries out, it will take a few days for the soil to absorb water. Brown, crispy edges and leaf tips are other indicators of underwatering. This happens when moisture does not reach the leaf’s edges. Due to a lack of moisture, it also becomes weak and unstable. 

So, keep a consistent watering schedule for your plant and keep an eye on it on a frequent basis.

Here are some suggestions for fixing your under-watered plants:

  • Water it slowly and consistently to avoid shocking your plant.
  • Remove the plant from the container.
  • After that, place your Alocasia in the tub and soak it in water.
  • Remove the plant after the soil is moist and set it in a sunny position. 
  • Remember to keep the soil moist but not overwatered.

Nutrient Deficiency 

Common nutrient deficiencies in other plants do not exclude this exotic plant. Nutrient deficiencies usually manifest as yellowing of leaf surfaces or crispy edges, holes, burnt leaves with brown tips, purplish hues on leaves, brown spots, distorted leaves, soft texture, and stunted roots. 

To fix this, the right and balanced fertilizer must be used. A nutrient strength that is too strong may also be as detrimental as nutrient deficiency, so this should be kept in check. Soil pH is also essential since it is a significant factor in the plant’s nutrient uptake. 

Flowering Problems

Alocasia plants generally do not have regular flowering seasons; thus, it helps to not rely on flowering time. To ensure that your plants produce flowers, ensure that optimum care and requirements are given and sufficient lighting, which is crucial for flowering. 

Problems with People and Animals

Toxicity

Unfortunately, just like other alocasias and tropical plants, Zebrina has its minor cons. Alocasias are known to be toxic due to their sap, and zebrina is no exception. When ingested, the sap can be poisonous to your pets and/or children. The sap is also known to be a skin irritant. 

To enjoy the plant to the fullest while keeping your family and furbabies safe, make sure to place the plant out of reach from small children and pets. Saps usually come from their stem, so they should be safe as long as they are untouched and undamaged.

Alocasia Plants Meaning and Symbolism

Alocasias are said to be “trees that grow up to the heavens”, even though botanically speaking, they are not trees. With this, black velvet symbolizes seizing opportunities and taking risks. They are perfect gifts for people who are about to make major life decisions such as moving into a new city or venturing into a new business.

General Meaning“plant that grows up to heavens”
SymbolismRisk taking and seizing opportunities
Cultural SignificanceAttribution to the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale

Landscaping and Gardening Ideas

Landscaping - how to care for Alocasia Zebrina

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Companion Plants

Other Alocasia plants such as Silver Dragon and African Mask, Caladiums, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma make great companions to these plants. In addition, many plants like Canna lilies, decorative bananas, Dieffenbachia, Ficus, Schefflera, and Coleus, may also be planted with Alocasias as they exude the same tropical scenery vibe.

Landscaping Ideas

In gardens, Alocasias can be placed on the perennial borders. Its foliage, shaped like elephant ears, is a good break from the rest of the plants, especially those with colorful hues. It can be placed in the center mixed with other foliage and flowering plants in terrariums and vivariums. 

This plant with dark leaves can also be combined with plants with purple hues or stiff texture, which provide more drama when juxtaposed with the dark green leaves of Alocasias. 

What to plant withColocasia, Caladiums, Alocasias, Xanthosomas, Coleus, Canna Lilies, Ornamental Bananas, Ficus, Dieffenbachia, Schefflera
What NOT to plant withBasically nothing

Other Alocasias with similar care 

Naturally, plants of the same family will have a similar level of care and attention. If you happen to own or are still planning to own other Alocasia plants besides Zebrina, you can also use this guide to take care of them. 

Alocasia Stingray

Alocasia Stingray is known for its heart-shaped leaves with a very slim and pointed-end–like a stingray’s tail!

This plant looks similar to Alocasia Zebrina. As a matter of fact, their stems are very similar in the way that they store a lot of moisture!

Alocasia Cucullata

Alocasia Culcullata has a beautiful heart-shaped glossy green foliage with prominent veins on its tall, green, thick stems. It is also known as Buddha’s hand as it is always seen in Buddhist temples and is believed to bring good fortune.

This plant is quite unique-looking compared to other Alocasias. However, like Zebrina, it has big stems that store a lot of moisture. That is why it can also last longer without being watered. 

Conclusion

Taking care of houseplants

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Indeed, Zebrina is one of the most loveable and beautiful plants you’ll encounter. This environment will allow them to thrive when you put them in humid and warm areas. As long as you give them the right amount of watering, sunlight, and love, they’ll be happy to grow and give you their magnificent and splendor foliage. 

In addition, keep in mind that Zebrina should be put in well-draining soil. They should be planted firmly in a right-sized pot as well as given fertilizer for growth every now and then. Make sure to place them away from small children and pets to avoid unwanted trips to the doctor. Lastly, there are other plants with similar care as Zebrina. If you’re planning to acquire one of them, this guide might also give you an upper hand!

FAQS

  1. Is Alocasia zebrina rare?

The Alocasia zebrina plant is now considered as a rare plant due to overharvesting in their wild habitat. However, due to aggressive propagation and through the advent of tissue cultures, wild collection of the Zebrina Alocasia become unnecessary. 

  1. Is Alocasia zebrina an indoor plant?

Yes, definitely! Alocasia zebrina is an excellent indoor houseplant and can tolerate the environmental conditions inside your home. However, ensure that you meet your plant’s minimum requirements even when indoors.

  1. Are Alocasias hard to care for?

Alocasias are not the hardest plant to care for, but they are definitely not the easiest. They have a specific care that they require. But once you know it, Alocasias should be easy to handle.

  1. Where do I put Alocasia zebrina indoors?

Alocasias generally love bright, indirect light, so make sure to give them this light condition even when indoors. Stay out of direct sunlight always. You should put your Alocasia in south-facing windows or use a sheer curtain.

  1. How often should I water Zebrina?

Generally, you should only water your Alocasias when the soil is dry. If the soil is still wet, skip watering and wait for it to drain. Checking the soil first ensures the avoidance of overwatering and eventual root rot.

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