Zebra Plants - Alocasia Zebrina


Alocasia zebrina


Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Common Issues
  4. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity.

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Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy to Moderate
  • Bright indirect light is best, avoiding exposure to the summer sun. An hour or two of winter sunlight is highly beneficial, though, as long as you keep an eye out for potential droughts. Overhead lighting is key for this species, as locations too far from the window may cause lopsided growth.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist, allowing the top third to dry out in between waters. Avoid water-logging or extended periods of soggy-soil.
  • Mist the foliage or introduce a humidity tray whilst the heaters are operating.
  • Fertilise fortnightly during the spring and summer and monthly for the rest of the year.
  • Keep an eye out for Spider Mite that'll form webs on the under-leafs of the plant.
  • Especially if its kept in a dark location, wash or dust the foliage monthly, to increase the light capturing efficiency.
  • Repot biannually, using Houseplant soil or a general purpose compost with some perlite. Introduce some grit for larger specimens, to strengthen their root system.




Location & Light - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Although bright, indirect sun is ideal, throw in some morning or evening sun if possible. If it's situated in a shady location, dust the leaves from time to time to improve light-capturing efficiency. Never allow a Zebra Plants to sit in strong sunlight for extended periods, as too much light will result in a pale, washed out appearance with possible brown patches forming on the leaves.

Most rooms in the house will easily accommodate a Zebra Plant, as long as there's a sufficient amount of light and space to grow. If the plant is situated in a darker location, be sure to wash the leaves monthly to improve its light-capturing efficiency and overall appearance. Do not situate a Alocasia in a setting that's prone to extreme heats or direct sunlight, for example a south-facing conservatory, or within four metres of an operating radiator.


Water - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Allow third of the soil to dry out in between irrigations, while reducing this further in the autumn and winter months. For those grown in brighter locations, only allow a third of the soil dry out to minimise the chances of dehydration. Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, brown leaf edges and yellowing leaves. Over-watering symptoms include a collapsed stem, yellowing leaves and plant death. If you feel over-watering is to blame, remove the affected leaves, roots and soil and replace with a fresh batch of houseplant compost. Click on this link for more info about addressing root rot.


Humidity - πŸ”ΈπŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Zebra Plants originate from the Philippines, meaning high humidity is mandatory for quality growth. Mist both sides of the leaves once a week in summer and twice in winter; browning leaf-tips are a big sign that the surrounding air moisture is too low. A quick hose down once a month will hydrate the leaves, eliminate dust particles and help reduce numbers of pests, most notably spider mites.


Fertilisation - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Twice a month in the growing period and monthly in winter to replicate its dormancy period. Either use houseplant feed or a general plant fertiliser at half strength. Never apply 'ready to pour' feed without a quick drink of water beforehand as this will cause the roots to burn.




Common Issues with Zebra Plants

Regular irrigations are key. Periods of droughts will quickly slip the specimen back into its dormancy period, causing stunted growth and a bewildered plant owner. If it hasn't repotted in a while, there may be too many roots and not enough soil to retain moisture, thus leaving the soil to dry out quicker. Click on this link to learn more about a transplant.

Pests could arise at any time, with infestations starting from the original nursery or via contamination in your home. Spider Mite and Mealybugs tend to be the usual inhabitants, with the first being minute and almost transparent, roaming the leaves in search of chlorophyll and a site to hide its eggs. The latter, however, will stand out much more, with white cottony webs developing across the foliage and stems. Thoroughly check the plant's cubbyholes before giving it the all-clear, or click on the appropriate links to learn more about eradicating these issues.

Yellowing lower leaves (closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although Zebra Plants can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days. Click on this link to learn more about root rot and how to address it, and always feel the pot's weight for confirmation (heaviness = good soil moisture, & vice versa).

Too low humidity can cause browning leaf tips with yellow halos. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray whilst the heaters are active to create a stable environment for your specimen.

Dust the leaves regularly. Although this isn't too much of an issue, a build-up of dust particles can clog up the plant's pores, causing lowered light capturing-efficiency. Wipe the topsides of the leaves down once a month to keep levels down and improve growing conditions.

Mould developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness of the mould, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of houseplant compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.

There are several species of Leaf-Spot Disease, (Graphiola, Botrytis, Anthracnose & Cercospora) and all of them operate in the same way. Fungi spores will land on the leaf's surface and will slowly develop along with the plant. Unfortunately, as there aren't any products that'll address the issue head-on, you can only remove the affected areas and regularly wash the leaves to limit the spread. In some cases, however, the small yellow spots are caused by inconsistent soil moisture, and is not the direct product of a disease. Think about your own cultivation habits and make a decision of what to do. If you're still unsure afterwards, don't hesitate to send us an email or direct message via our Instagram page for our expert advice!



Root rot is a key issue with owners, especially those kept in cold or dark locations. The base of a Zebra Plant has a corm, which acts similarly to a bulb so short-lived droughts can be survivable; always considered this when potentially over-watering your specimen. 

Origins

The Alocasia zebrina were first discovered by Heinrich Schott in the early-mid 1800s in the Philippines. Despite its high levels of calcium oxalate chrystals which can cause temporary speechlessness, if the corm is cooked long enough it's safe to eat, providing high levels of starch that can be used as energy or stored in the body.


The Distribution of A. zebrina.


Temperature

12° - 30°C   (54° - 86°F)
H1b  (Hardiness Zone 12)  - can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃  (54℉),  but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.


Spread

Up to 3m in height and 1m in width, with the ultimate height being reached in around 5 - 10 years. Alocasia macrorrhizos are best grown with overhead lighting to compliment their growth structure; locations with lateral light sources (e.g. the corner of a room) will cause stunted, lopsided growth.


Pruning

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.


Propagation

Via seed or Corm Offset Division.

Corm Offset Division - Your plant will produce several basal offsets that can be separated once they have a sufficient root system, and surpass 25cm in height. If possible, water the soil 24hrs before the main event to reduce the risk of transplant shock, when its dry root systems are over-fingered. Take the plant out of its pot and place your fingers close to the nodal junction - soil may have to be removed for better access. Push the chosen offset downwards until you hear a snap. Separate the foliage and its root system away from the mother plant, mentally noting the high risk of damage. Transplant in the appropriate sized pot with a fresh batch of houseplant soil. Maintain evenly moist soil and situate it in a bright, indirect location away from any direct sunlight. After eight weeks, treat it like a normal specimen following the care tips above!


Flowers

As Alocasia is part of the Araceae family, their flowers aren't showy. Much like a Peace Lily's flower body, their flowers consist of a white or green spathe (the spoon-like shell) with the spadix being the site of pollination. Blooms can last up to five days and is usually visible during late spring or early summer around 30cm+ from the soil line.


Repotting

Repot biannually using a houseplant-labelled and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before the tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

If you're still unsure of what to do, don't hesitate to send us an email or direct message to get our expert advice on transplantation.


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, scale & thrips that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves. Common diseases associated with Alocasia are root rot, red leaf-spot, botrytis, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.


Toxicity

Members of the Araceæ family typically contain poisonous calcium oxalate crystals, with Alocasia being no exception. Other members of this family include Philodendron, Zamioculcas (ZZ Plants) and Spathiphyllum (Peace Lilies). If eaten, vomiting, nausea with a loss of appetite could occur and consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly.


Retail Locations

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If you need further advice with indoor gardening, never hesitate to send us an email or direct message via the Instagram Page. This could be about your own specific plant, transplantation into a bigger pot, pests or diseases, terrarium ideas, & more!



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