Unlike many of its relatives in the Alocasia genus, the Alocasia zebrina is not prized for its foliage— instead, its amazing zebra-like stems steal the show. Native to the Philippines, this tropical aroid is popular as a houseplant around the world although it can also be grown outside in certain climates. The Alocasia zebrina is difficult to find and tricky to grow since it is known for being picky about its growing conditions. So, if you’re looking for an easy-to-grow houseplant, this plant is probably not for you. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the zebrina can be rewarding to grow and care for indoors and is sure to be a stylish addition to any space.
|Botanical Name||Alocasia zebrina|
|Common Name||Zebra plant, zebrina Alocasia, tiger taro (gabing tigre)|
|Plant Type||Perennial, bulb|
|Mature Size||3 ft. tall (indoors), 3 ft. wide (indoors)|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-draining|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Flower Color||Green, white|
|Hardiness Zones||10-11, USA|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Alocasia Zebrina Care
The Alocasia zebrina is a tropical plant in the family Araceae. Although some growers find it hard to keep this plant happy indoors, under the right conditions, it can grow quite happily in most homes. The trick is to understand how it grows in its natural environment and try to mimic those conditions. Think filtered light, consistent moisture, and warm temperatures. Like all plants in the aroid family, the zebrina is a flowering plant although its blooms are not particularly interesting and it is considered rare for it to flower indoors.
This tropical plant appreciates several hours of bright, indirect sunlight. If you have a north- or east-facing window, position your zebrina directly in front of it to maximize the light it is receiving. If you have a west- or south-facing window, set the plant back from the window by a couple of feet to avoid any harsh direct sunbeams. You can also filter direct light with a sheer curtain or window film. This Alocasia is sensitive to leaf burn if it is exposed to too much light, but is also prone to dropping leaves if it is in low-light conditions.
When it comes to choosing the right soil, there are two things you need to keep in mind. First, Alocasias require lots of nutrients in order to thrive, and second, they are prone to root rot and cannot tolerate wet feet. This means that your soil mix should be rich in organic materials and well-draining. A mixture of equal parts potting soil, perlite or pumice, and coco peat is ideal.
While this Alocasia shouldn’t be left in soggy soil, it also doesn’t do well when its soil dries out. Ideally, the soil should stay consistently moist. Allow the top 1 inch of soil to dry slightly between waterings and then water well—allowing the excess water to drain from the pot.
Temperature and Humidity
The Alocasia zebrina does best in warm, slightly humid conditions—although it also does well in standard household conditions which tend to be on the dry side. That being said, if your plant is exhibiting curling leaves, crispy edges, or dropping leaves, it may require more humidity. Placing a small humidifier close to the plant, or moving it to a naturally humid room in your home like a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room are great ways to improve humidity. While this Alocasia usually does best grown indoors as a houseplant, it can be grown outdoors year-round in USDA zones 10 and 11.
In addition to a nutrient-rich soil mix, fertilize your plant with a balanced houseplant fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer for vigorous growth. Stop feeding during the fall and winter months when the plant is no longer actively growing.
Propagating Alocasia Zebrina
Propagating your plant is a great way to grow new plants and share them with family and friends. This Alocasia can be propagated easily by division or harvesting and growing its corms. (Corms are underground plant stems that grow within the roots.) Both methods require a mature and healthy plant and are best done during regular repotting.
To propagate by division, follow these steps.
- Take the plant out of its pot and gently remove any excess soil from the roots. Each plant will be growing from an individual bulb.
- Divide the plant by separating the bulbs and roots from one another.
- Pot the newly separated plants in a well-draining potting mix and water thoroughly. Place the plants in a location that receives bright, indirect light.
To propagate by growing corms, follow these steps.
- Take the plant out of its pot and gently remove any excess soil from the roots.
- Dig around in the soil for small corms, which will be attached to the roots of the plant. Carefully cut the corms from the roots at the base of the corm. The corms should be firm and round.
- Peel the hard outside husk of the corm to expose the light green center and place the corm in a container with moistened sphagnum moss. Ensure that the corm is facing up with the pointy tip up and the rough side down.
- Put a small resealable plastic bag over the container and close it to create a greenhouse-like environment, and place the container in a location that receives bright indirect light.
- Once a week, unseal the bag for 10-15 minutes to encourage oxygen flow. After a couple of weeks, you should begin to see roots and/or foliage growing from the corms.
- When the roots are at least 2 inches long, the new plants can be potted in a well-draining potting mix. Return them to a location with bright, indirect light and keep the soil evenly moist.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Keep an eye out for spider mites, fungus gnats, and mealybugs—all of which love the moist conditions that the Alocasia zebrina provides. This plant is also susceptible to root rot, which is usually a result of improper watering and soil drainage. Signs of root rot include yellowing leaves, dropping leaves, and brown mushy stems.
Common Problems With Alocasia Zebrina
It is not uncommon to run into a few issues while growing this tropical plant indoors. Watch out for these common problems.
Yellow leaves can be the result of root rot/overwatering, under watering, lack of humidity, or lack of light. You will need to assess your plant’s growing environment to figure out what may be causing its leaves to turn yellow.
Curling leaves are usually an indication that your Alocasia zebrina is experiencing a lack of moisture or humidity. Ensure that you don’t allow your plant to dry out too much between waterings, and keep it away from drafty windows or air vents which can dry out the air.
Leaves dropping off is a good indication that one or more things in your plants growing environment is off. Lack of light, underwatering, overwatering, lack of humidity, and root rot are all possible causes for dropping leaves.
Is Alocasia zebrina fast-growing?
Under the right conditions, it is considered a fast-grower and can grow a new leaf every 1 to 2 weeks during the active growing period.
Why is my Alocasia zebrina not growing?
If your plant is not showing signs of growth, it is likely due to a lack of light or moisture, or improper fertilization. Remember that this Alocasia requires bright, indirect light; regular watering; and monthly fertilization during the spring and summer.
Can I propagate Alocasia zebrina by leaf cuttings?
Unlike other tropical aroids such as pothos and some philodendrons, Alocasias cannot be propagated by leaf cuttings. If you wish to propagate your Alocasia zebrina, you must do so by division or by harvesting and growing its corms.
Pet Poison Helpline. “Alocasia.” petpoisonhelpline.com. N.p., n.d. Web.