Calathea Zebrina: You Need These Tips!
Calathea Zebrina is a tropical plant with a unique appearance that makes it an excellent choice for indoor gardeners.
In this detailed care guide, we’re diving into the how’s, why’s, and when’s of everything your Calathea Zebrina needs to stay healthy.
Continue reading to learn where you can purchase this Calathea and its unique characteristics and common pitfalls to avoid.
What Is Calathea Zebrina?
The Calathea Zebrina is commonly called Zebra Plant, Goeppertia Zebrina, and G. Zebrina. It is a perennial that is well-known for its striking striped foliage. This tropical plant from the Marantaceae family has light green with dark green stripes and large ovate leaves. The undersides of the leaves, which are often unnoticed as this plant tends to grow horizontally, are purple.
Plants from this family, specifically the Maranta genus, are often referred to as “Prayer Plants” for folding up and down in response to temperature and light. Calatheas have the same nyctinastic movement, but it’s not as pronounced as their Maranta cousins. Hence, they are often referred to as a Prayer Plant as well. And like its cousins, this plant is also quite sensitive.
In the rest of this article, we’ll talk about growing Calathea indoors. This plant can also be grown outside in hardiness zones 11-12.
Origin And Family
The Zebra Plant belongs to the Calathea genus in the Marantaceae family, and it comes from Brazil’s forests. This plant has become popular in recent years, thriving in most households with high humidity.
Where To Buy
Calathea Zebrina plants can be purchased in a nursery or a home improvement store. It’s usually better to buy it on Etsy, where you’ll likely find more affordable options. Etsy frequently provides fantastic deals from plant enthusiasts who cultivate this variety in their homes as a hobby.
Calathea Zebrina was recently renamed Goeppertia Zebrina for taxonomic reasons, but you will find most nurseries and online websites still refer to this plant as Calathea.
Calathea Zebrina has very affordable pricing, starting from $10 for small plants up to $30 for more mature plants.
Calathea Zebrina Plant Size
Indoors, the Calathea Zebrina reaches a height of 1 meter and a width of 15+ inches. This Calathea grows at a slow-to-moderate rate and beautifully thrives when placed near an east or west-facing window.
Calathea Zebrina Care Needs
It will grow well if you take good care of your Calathea Zebrina, which has striped leaves. A lot of humidity and soil that stays wet all year long help this plant grow well.
It is crucial to water your Calathea every day. There isn’t any water in the top inch of the soil. Check to make sure the bottom of the pot is entirely wet, which will let the water run down and into the vessel. Putting this plant in a place that gets bright, indirect light will help it grow.
The Goeppertia Zebrina is often regarded as moderate to difficult to care for. Keep this plant in the right potting mix and get enough light if you want it to grow well.
The G. Zebrina plant measures 1 meter when grown in an indoor environment, and the warm weather of spring and summer helps this plant flourish.
Calathea species grow at a slow-to-moderate speed, including the Zebrina.
If the soil isn’t too wet, almost anything can grow. This tropical plant can grow in virtually any soil as long as it doesn’t get too wet. For most growers, plastic, terracotta, or clay planters will work best for Zebra Plant.
Most plants need a big pot to grow in. This is true as long as your vessel has drainage holes at the bottom, which means that your plant should be mostly safe from root rot.
Calathea Zebrina typically needs to be repotted once every two years, or it dries out quickly between waterings. Remove the plant carefully from its pot, but be careful not to damage the leading root ball. Calatheas are very sensitive and don’t like being disturbed or touched. Then, you can move the plant into a bigger pot. The roots will adapt quicker when planted in the same substrate that it’s used to.
The Goeppertia Zebrina is a moderate-to-difficult to care for plant that needs standard commercial potting soil to stay healthy. If you plan to prepare your own soil mix, we recommend using parts peat moss and part perlite.
Your Calathea will appreciate the soil being kept evenly moist at all times. Nonetheless, drainage and aeration are essential requirements for all soil types.
Here are some potting mixes we recommend:
pH for this plant should be around 6.0-6.5, meaning your G. Zebrina likes acidic soil. As long as you keep repotting your plant or add new dirt from time to time, the pH level won’t be as important as if you grow this plant outside.
While most house plants accept all kinds of water, these Calathea plants have specific preferences. They are pretty sensitive to chemicals like fluoride and calcium, compounds found in tap water. If you prefer to use tap water, it is an excellent idea to let it sit overnight for up to 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate. If you have the budget, you can use distilled or filtered water. Rainwater, if available, is another option.
How much water your plant requires is determined by the temperature and humidity in the area where it lives. Generally speaking, your Zebra Plant prefers an evenly moist growing medium.
Make sure not to overwater your Zebra Plant. At this point, your plant needs a drink. Water directly on the soil and take care not to wet the foliage so you can avoid fungal diseases.
Allow the excess water to flow through the bottom of the pot. Remember to empty the collection tray if your plant is sitting in one, as too much water can harm this plant.
Calathea Zebrina prefers bright indirect light for 6-8 hours per day, like most tropical plants. Remember, you’re trying to recreate the growing conditions in its natural habitat, the forests of Brazil. In most cases, placing this plant near an east or west-facing window works well.
You’ll know your Calathea Zebrina is getting too much light when its patterns fade. On the other hand, if it doesn’t get enough light, it may start to grow slowly and produce leggy stems.
Avoid putting your Calathea Zebrina in direct sunlight, which could severely damage or even kill it.
This plant can also thrive in medium light conditions, so you can place it in any low light spot in your home. It can also tolerate common light conditions or partial shade to a certain degree, but you need to carefully observe if there is enough low light coming in.
Plants, like people, need more food when they are actively growing because they are using up a lot of their energy. For the Goeppertia Zebrina, this growth spurt usually happens in spring and summer and provides a liquid fertilizer once a month.
You don’t need to fertilize at all in the winter months because plants’ roots usually go dormant in the cold. This means they won’t need extra food for growth.
Propagating Calathea Zebrina
With the proper propagation method, you can reproduce your Calathea Zebrina. Below are some options to consider and detailed instructions to assist you.
The division technique is a propagation method typically used for plants that have pups shooting out from the roots.
You can divide the stem clusters of your G. Zebrina by following these steps:
1. Dig up. Take the plant out of its container. To see where the plant’s natural divisions are, you should be able to look at the plant.
2. Separate. Separate the sections with your fingers in a very gentle way. You may need to use shears to cut any entangled roots.
3. Repot. Plant each section in new pots filled with the same soil they’re used to.
Humidity And Aeration
This Calathea is a popular plant that prefers 70% or higher high humidity.
If the leaves on your Calathea Zebrina are curling, crispy, and have brown edges, you should get a humidifier to keep them moist. This machine is designed to keep releasing steam and making a room much more humid. Another thing you could do is put water in a pebble tray to help with evaporation. Water evaporation increases humidity levels, which makes your plant more healthy.
The ideal temperature for your G. Zebrina is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and this tropical houseplant will appreciate being kept in warm locations.
More importantly, avoid any sudden spikes or drops in temperatures. Don’t use cold or hot water on your G. Zebrina; use room temperature water instead so its roots don’t go into shock.
Most plants will typically bloom only when exposed to the natural elements. Nonetheless, your Zebra Plant can still produce insignificant cream flowers most summers.
According to the ASPCA, Goeppertia Zebrina is not toxic to children or pets, and it will not harm dogs or cats if ingested. There are also no ingredients in the plant that are harmful to humans. However, it is still advisable to keep this plant away from pets and small children to avoid disturbing it.
|Botanical Name||Calathea Zebrina|
|Common Name||Zebra Plant, Goeppertia Zebrina, G. Zebrina|
|Leaf Color||light green with dark green stripes|
|Recommended Home Placement||near an east or west-facing window|
|Light||bright indirect light|
|Soil||standard commercial potting soil|
|When To Water||Water When the top inch of the soil is dry.|
|When To Fertilize||once a month during growing season|
|Humidity Range||70% or higher|
|Toxic To Pets?||No|
|Common Pests & Diseases||spider mites, brown tips, fungus gnuts, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, aphids, mealy bugs, drooping leaves|
Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems
Even with expert care, things can go wrong from time to time. Pests and diseases are unavoidable aspects of gardening, and as a whole, the Calathea Zebrina is not a disease and pest-resistant plant.
Find out how to tell if your plant has a common problem and how you can help it get back to being healthy.
Unfortunately, Zebra Plant is a fungus gnat-magnet. Fungus gnats are tiny insects that consume organic debris found in your growing medium. Their larvae have a horrible habit of devouring roots, detrimental to your plants.
It’s easy to get rid of fungus gnat larvae with hydrogen peroxide because it kills them when they touch it, and it’s also quick and easy. Spray the topsoil of your Zebra Plant with a mixture of four parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide.
Alternatively, you can drench the soil with water that has been mixed with mosquito dunk. Mosquito dunks are dry pellets that contain Bacillus thuringiensis, and Isrealensis is a type of bacteria that kills mosquitoes, fruit flies, and fungus gnats.
Brown Leaf Tips
One common cause of browning edges on your Zebra Plant’s leaves is a build-up of salts and minerals in the soil. This typically happens if you apply too much fertilizer or use chemically-treated tap water.
Another reason for browning leaf tips is the lack of moisture. Water your plant appropriately, and improve your indoor humidity.
Known primarily as a houseplant north of USDA hardiness zones 11-12, southeast Brazilian native Calathea zebrina (zebra plant) is one of the first residents of our Tropical Heart to show new growth — look at those ornamental stripes — after the recent winter storm. pic.twitter.com/Bf1U1yHSNe— Houston Botanic Garden (@houstonbotanic) March 5, 2021
If you notice drooping leaves on your Calathea Zebrina, it might be thirsty or need more moisture in the air. Plant leaves will usually remain fresh and perky for a more extended period if you keep a humidifier nearby.
Another cause of downward-curling leaves is overexposure to bright light. Simply move your plant away from the nearest source of light and heat in this case.
Root rot is a significant threat to G. Zebrina. Indoor gardeners tend to over water their plants or forget to provide proper drainage. Rotting roots will appear black and mushy and will lead to the decline and eventual death.
The easiest way to stop root rot is to control how much water your plants get. Prolong the gap between watering schedules, especially when your plant doesn’t receive enough sunlight and wind to dry the soil. Check the bottom of your pot for drainage holes.
Soil aeration is just as crucial in preventing root rot. If your soil tends to become compact and water-logged, add chunky and airy materials such as perlite, pumice, orchid bark, horticultural coal, coco chunks, river sand, and many others.
The Zebra Plant is one of my favorite plants. Here are some other plants you should try:
Calathea Ornata – A tropical plant with shiny and colorful stripes across the leaves, it is often called the “Pinstripe Plant” and “Peacock Plant.” This plant will liven up your indoor garden or home with its unique visuals.
Calathea Makoyana: This is one of the most stunning indoor plants from the Calathea genus. Definitely, a show-stopper, its tall, slender stem with intricately designed leaves will convince non-plant enthusiasts to get one.
Calathea Beauty Star: Its name alone speaks for itself. This exotic plant (Ornata cultivar) has dark green leaves with silvery stripes and even a purple underside. It’s an ornata cultivar.
Calathea Orbifolia: Known for its massive leaves with stunning white/silver-green bands, this evergreen perennial is a must for plant lovers who like large Calatheas. It requires some TLC, though, but it’s all worth it.
With its striking striped foliage, the Calathea Zebrina grows beautifully indoors.
It’s moderate to difficult to care for. It loves bright indirect light, high humidity, evenly moist soil, and warm temps.
So if you’re looking for a new plant to add to your collection or just getting started as an indoor gardener, follow these steps to grow your own Calathea Zebrina at home!