Alocasia zebrina can wipe off all the boredom that comes with the monotony of caring for houseplants. Are you craving a change in your home garden? Alocasia zebrina will make your home vivid and lively with its striped stems.
This article is a one-stop information source on how to take good care of your elegant Alocasia zebrina.
What Is Alocasia Zebrina?
Alocasia zebrina is a gorgeous tropical plant that is native to the hot and humid jungles of the Philippines and South-East Asia. Alocasia zebrina is also known as the zebra plant, elephant ears, or zebra alocasia.
The large leaves of the zebra plant cannot go unnoticed due to their beauty. Each leaf of Alocasia zebrina is green, assuming the shape of an arrowhead. The flowers of the zebra alocasia are whitish-green in color. These flowers are usually insignificant and rarely appear, especially in indoor plants.
Alocasia zebrina has stems that are extensively decorated with stripes like a zebra, which is a true and natural mark of elegance that your plant garden will certainly require. The stems of this plant give it the ornamental value that it has, more than the leaves and flowers. For such ornamental purposes, Alocasia zebrina specimens are grown as potted plants.
– Other Unique Characteristics
Alocasia zebrina only keeps about five leaves at a time. It constantly sheds off weaker and older leaves as a way of cutting off the nutrient supply to withering leaves and reserve it for the healthier ones. There is no way you can save these falling leaves, so this is one characteristic of Alocasia zebrina that you should embrace.
Sometimes, when you water your Alocasia zebrina, you might notice some drops of water on the surface of its leaves. This is referred to as “sweating,” and it’s only a sign that your plant is getting a little too much of its drink. Therefore, the plant releases some of this excess water through its pores. There is no reason to worry when your Alocasia zebrina sweats, because it does not affect it in any way.
Alocasia zebrina is a fast-growing plant as long as you provide it with all the requirements that are necessary for its growth. At its best, Alocasia zebrina can grow up to approximately 3 feet. While other plants in the same family as Alocasia zebrina can grow bigger than this, this plant maintains a relatively small size, which makes it a perfect houseplant.
Alocasia zebrina goes through a period of dormancy during winter. All you need to do is to keep your plant in a warmer space until the hot seasons, when it starts growing again. Also, reduce your watering frequency during the plant’s period of dormancy.
How To Care for Alocasia Zebrina
Alocasia zebrina is one of the easiest plants as far as proper care is concerned. However, with all the care tips at your fingertips, parenting for this houseplant is an awesome experience. The nitty-gritty of how to care for this plant is outlined in this section.
– Alocasia Zebrina Light Requirements
Bright but indirect sunlight is conducive for the growth of Alocasia zebrina. For this reason, we recommend that you place your plant in a room that has a window that faces the south. This allows your Alocasia zebrina to get the light it requires for the better part of the day. If you don’t have one, it is fine; even a west or east-facing window will do.
It is important that you keep the plant as far from the window as possible to avoid the direct light that might burn its leaves. Under too much sunlight, the leaves of Alocasia zebrina might turn yellowish. Simply move the plant to a space that has some shade if this happens. Be also conscious of the fact that Alocasia zebrina suffers when kept under light conditions that are too low.
You should rotate your plant so that it receives enough light from all sides. The stems of Alocasia zebrina tend to grow tall toward a source of light if they are deprived of it. Therefore, rotating the plant helps to avoid uneven growth of the plant. This could distort the shape and appearance of the plan, so develop a habit of giving your Alocasia zebrina a 90-degree rotation each time you water it.
– Alocasia Zebrina Water Requirements
It’s easy to be confused by the fact that Alocasia zebrina requires high levels of humidity and ending up thinking that it needs a lot of water, too. On the contrary, this plant does not need to be watered that frequently. This is because Alocasia zebrina stores a lot of moisture in its thick stems, so it is best to slightly underwater the plant, rather than overwater it.
As a rule of thumb, water your plant when the upper two-thirds of its topsoil is dry and avoid prolonged periods of dryness because the plant is not drought-tolerant.
To determine if your plant needs to be watered, check its stems to see if they are slightly droopy. If they are, it’s a sign that the stem of your plant no longer has water. The case is, however, different when only one stem is droopy. It could mean that your plant is trying to replace that stem with a new leaf. In that case, there is no need for you to water your Alocasia zebrina.
Another strategy for checking the moisture content of your Alocasia zebrina soil is by lifting it up to determine its lightness. Although this method requires much practice, mastering it is worthwhile. When watering Alocasia zebrina, do so until the water begins to drain through the drainage holes to avoid waterlogged conditions that can cause root rot.
– Temperature Requirements
If you grow your Alocasia zebrina in temperature ranges between 60 F and 82 F, it will grow well. This plant can tolerate lower temperatures to about 30 F but not any lower, because it is frost-sensitive. Such low temperatures can kill your plant.
Avoid abrupt changes in temperature, as this will affect your plant. Also, avoid putting your plant close to house implants that suddenly alter temperatures, like heaters and fans.
– Humidity Requirements
By virtue of it being a tropical plant, Alocasia zebrina thrives well in conditions that are highly humid. Ideally, the humidity around your plant should be above the average humidity that other plants require.
To create such environments, consider misting your plant more often, preferably one morning every week. Apart from giving your plant the vigor that it needs, misting also assists to clean your plant from the dust that makes it look dull.
You can also create a humid environment around your plant by using a pebble tray. Simply place some pebbles and water in a shallow tray and then place the pot of your plant in the tray. A humidifier can also help to raise the humidity levels around your plant. Another option would be to move your plant to rooms that are naturally more humid than the others, like the bathroom and kitchen.
When a group of plants is grown close to each other, they tend to maintain higher levels of humidity around themselves. You can also apply this strategy and place your Alocasia zebrina close to other houseplants to naturally raise the humidity around it.
– Soil Requirements
A well-draining potting soil creates a conducive environment for the growth of Alocasia zebrina. Such soil helps to reduce the chances of having your plant sitting in water after watering it. However, the soil should have the capacity to slightly retain moisture as well. This allows the plant to absorb the water that it needs through its roots, while the excess drains off.
In its natural habitat, Alocasia zebrina grows on soils that are rich in humus and layered over a rocky substrate. It would, therefore, be good to add compost to your potting soil mix. The only problem is that compost decomposes with time, causing the potting soil to become compacted and poorly draining.
A perfect soil mix for Alocasia zebrina should contain pumice, perlite, or coarse sand if you decide to add compost to it. These additions will improve the aeration of your soil while enhancing the draining properties as well.
– Fertilizer Requirements
The feeding attributes of Alocasia zebrina can be described as moderate to heavy. The plant might not need additional fertilizers when the potting soil mix contains compost.
If you decide to add fertilizer with the aim of enhancing vigorous growth your Alocasia zebrina is a great idea but be sure to add the fertilizer to your plant during its growing season, which is between spring and mid-autumn. This is the time when your Alocasia zebrina grows vigorously. As such, adding fertilizer once every two weeks gives it the extra support that it needs.
General houseplant fertilizer is a great option for your Alocasia zebrina. Another option would be to use a slow-release fertilizer that you give to your plant once every month.
As you keep fertilizing your plant, this might alter the pH and other properties of your plant’s soil with time. We, therefore, recommend that you flash fertilizer residues off your plant’s soil after every few months. To do this, water your Alocasia zebrina thoroughly so that water drains through the pot’s drainage holes. The draining water takes the accumulating fertilizers with it, making the soil a better place to be for your plant.
The repotting frequency for Alocasia zebrina should be every one to two years. Otherwise, only do so when the plant becomes rootbound. Also, it is best to transfer Alocasia zebrina to a new pot during summer, when the weather is warmer.
To repot Alocasia zebrina, gently uproot the plant from its old pot to avoid root damage. Shake off the soil on the plant and soak it in water for 24 hours to do away with the shock that houseplants often go through when they are transplanted.
Now, place it in the slightly larger, new pot that you prepared for it. The new pot should be only slightly larger than the previous one, because Alocasia zebrina does relatively well when it is slightly rootbound.
Make sure the properties of the soil in the new pot matches those of the one in the original pot to make the transition to the new environment as smooth as possible. The new pot should have enough drainage holes to avoid waterlogging when you water your plant.
There is nothing wrong with pruning off yellowing leaves from your Alocasia zebrina. However, unlike other houseplants, Alocasia zebrina does not become bushier or taller when pruned. If your desire is to reduce the size of the plant, simply cut off the larger leaves but be sure to feed the plant properly after that.
For your plant to quickly recover after the pruning process, trim it during its growing season and at temperatures that are higher than 80 F. Carefully cut the foliage as close to the main stem as possible.
Don’t forget to disinfect your pruning shears and wear gloves as you handle your plant. To sterilize your shears, simply dip the blades in 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. This way, you protect it from bacterial, fungal, or viral infections that might rob it of its beauty.
How To Propagate Alocasia Zebrina
Propagating Alocasia zebrina can be quite fascinating. This plant can be propagated in the water quite easily because it has semi-aquatic ancestors that dwell in swamps.
However, most of the propagation that takes place with Alocasia zebrina uses the bulbs that form at the roots of the plant. This section will guide you on how to propagate Alocasia zebrina. We have separated the stages into three as follows.
– Getting the Bulbs
The ease at which you can harvest Alocasia zebrina depends on the growing media that you use. If the bulb of your plant is mature enough for use in propagating new plants, it should be easy to pull off when you shake off the soil from the plant’s roots.
Otherwise, the bulbs that remain attached are not yet mature and ready. If you use the approach of harvesting the bulbs, you will need to care for these bulbs before propagation.
Another option at your disposal is to keep the bulbs on the parent plant so that they grow naturally. This way, you won’t need to give much special care to your bulbs before using them for propagation. The parent plant will feed the bulbs until they mature.
If you decide to harvest your bulbs, we recommend that you avoid doing so in the autumn. Your timing for harvesting determines the rate at which the roots will develop on the bulbs. The bulbs that are harvested in autumn tend to take much longer to develop roots and sprout, sometimes four months or more. Late winter or early spring is the best time for harvesting your bulbs.
– Handling the Bulbs
Some people prefer to grow their Alocasia zebrina in Leca. If that is the case, your bulbs should never sit in water. This is important for keeping fungal infections off the bulbs.
If your growing medium of choice is the soil, make sure it is well-draining. Also, be sure to let the soil dry between waterings. The reason for this is to allow the roots to develop and grow, otherwise, they would rot with too much watering.
– Caring for the Shoots
Once roots start to appear on your bulbs, it won’t take long before the shoots also start to sprout. In most cases, the roots and stems grow at the same time and it is quite difficult to pinpoint which one is the root or stem. Usually, the stems look thicker than the roots.
At this stage, your plant becomes able to sustain itself as the root continues to grow. You can now commence normal routines of watering and fertilizing if you are growing your plant in soil. If you are growing your Alocasia zebrina on Leca, all you have to worry about is making sure that the bulb and roots of your new plant do not sit in water.
If you choose to leave the bulbs so that they are cared for by the parent plant, you will notice the shoots sprouting out of the soil to Leca after some time. You can then separate these shoots from the parent plant and grow them in their own pots. The size of the shoots that you use for repotting is solely a matter of preference.
Alocasia Zebrina Problems
Following the best care requirements for Alocasia zebrina will reduce the chances of your plant being affected by various pests and diseases. Any form of stress on your plant will make it susceptible to attack by pests. Let’s explore some of the problems that you should be on the lookout for as you take care of your dazzling plant.
Alocasia zebrina is considered to be poisonous to both humans and pets if they ingest parts of the plant. The sap from the plant also causes irritation if it comes into contact with the skin. For these reasons, please keep your precious plant out of the reach of children and pets, to keep them safe.
Alocasia zebrina contains calcium oxalate crystals that are insoluble. When parts of the plant are bitten or chewed, these oxalate crystals are released and they can penetrate tissues. These crystals can irritate the digestive system and cause symptoms such as vomiting. In the mouth, the oxalate crystals from Alocasia zebrina can result in drooling, pawing, and oral pain.
In the event that your child eats Alocasia zebrina, quickly wipe off any sap that is still on the mouth by the time you notice. Give the child any available cool drink or even snacks such as yogurt or applesauce. If you notice any extraordinary symptoms such as difficulty in breathing and inflammation, immediately contact the emergency department.
If you can, keep information such as how much of the plant has been eaten handy, because it helps the emergency department to assess the severity of the situation.
– Leaf Issues
If you notice brown edges on the leaves of your plant, it is a sign that your plant is not getting enough water. To prevent this distortion of beauty on the leaves of your Alocasia zebrina, keep it hydrated by ensuring that the plant’s soil is evenly moist and avoid prolonged periods of dryness.
Brown-edged leaves on Alocasia zebrina can be a reflection that the plant is surviving under abnormally low humidity conditions. To troubleshoot the browning leaf edges, put the pot of your plant on a pebble tray to increase the humidity levels in the vicinity of the plant, or simply spritz the plant at least two times a day.
The leaves of your Alocasia zebrina might become curly if you do not give them proper care. Some of the reasons why the leaves of your plant might curl are too little sunlight, overwatering or underwatering, over-fertilizing, potassium deficiency, and infestation by pests. Unconducive temperature and humidity levels may also contribute to Alocasia zebrina leaves curling. Troubleshoot your care patterns and correct them.
You might also notice brown crisp patches on the surface of your plant’s leaves. Sometimes, the foliage might appear washed-out. Both cases are a result of exposing your plant to direct sunlight. To restore the gorgeous appearance of your Alocasia zebrina, move it to a spot that is void of direct, bright sunlight.
– Stem Issues
Are the leaves of your plant turning yellow or do the stems appear droopy? If yes, the reason behind these symptoms is overwatering. To rectify this problem, be sure to water your plant only when about two-thirds of its topsoil is dry.
Apart from ensuring that the pot of your Alocasia zebrina has enough drainage holes, troubleshoot your watering frequency and adjust the relevant parameters.
Alocasia zebrina is susceptible to pests like mealybugs, spider mites, and scales. All these are sucking pests that survive by drawing sap from your plant, thereby destroying its vitality. The earlier these sucking pests are detected the better. For this reason, we recommend that you develop a habit of checking your plants for pests, especially in hidden places, like under the leaves and at the nodes.
The moment you notice that your plant has been attacked by spider mites, scale, or mealybugs, isolate the affected plant if you have many plants. This helps to stop the spread of pests among your plants. Use a garden hose to wash off the pests, before using chemical treatment methods. For the chemical intervention, you can use Neem oil, a natural organic chemical that can kill pests at all stages of their life cycle.
Dabbing the pests with 70 percent alcohol works well when the infestation by pests is still low. You can even pick up an insecticide soap from the shops.
If you don’t want to buy an industrial insecticide, make your own insecticidal soap by mixing a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and a quarter-cup of vegetable oil in a spraying bottle. Top the contents in the spray bottle with warm water, shake, and spray it on your Alocasia zebrina at least once every week.
We have come to the end of your learning escapade with Alocasia zebrina. Let’s have a recap of what you learned once more.
- Alocasia zebrina is made special by the zebra print-like decorations on its stems.
- The plant thieves well in well-draining, moisture-retaining, and nutritious soils.
- Temperatures between 60 F and 82 F are conducive for the growth of Alocasia zebrina.
- The humidity requirements of this plant are high and above average.
- Provide your plant with bright, indirect light for proper growth.
- Allow about two-thirds of the potting soil to dry between waterings.
- Propagation of Alocasia zebrina is mainly done using the bulbs that develop at the plant’s roots.
- Keep Alocasia zebrina out of reach of children and pets because it is toxic if consumed.
- Take proper care of your plant to avoid issues such as curling leaves, as well as brown edges or brown patches on leaves.
- Look out for pests like mealybugs, scale, and spider mites and deal with them before they multiply on your plant.
You now have all the theoretical knowledge that you need for taking proper care of your special Alocasia zebrina. It’s now time to attain some experience by putting the concepts that you learned in this article into practice. Happy parenting!