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"How to care for an Alocasia Zebrina"

How to care for an Alocasia Zebrina

If you're like me, you probably can't resist buying a new houseplant every time you go to the garden center. I'm always looking for interesting plants that I haven't seen before, and when I came across an Alocasia Zebrina at my local nursery, I knew I had to have it. This exotic-looking plant has dark green leaves with zebra-like patterns on its stems running down the center, and it's sure to add some personality to any room in your home. But before you run out and buy one of these beauties, there are a few things you need to know about how to care for an Alocasia Zebrina. Keep reading for tips on watering, fertilizing, and potting your new houseplant!

In this plant care guide, we'll go over these topics:

  1. Humidity and watering
    1. When should I water my Alocasia Zebrina?
    2. How do I water an Alocasia Zebrina?
  2. How much sunlight does an Alocasia Zebrina need?
    1. Rotating the plant
  3. What is the best type of soil for an Alocasia Zebrina?
  4. How often should I fertilize an Alocasia Zebrina?
  5. What is the best pot size for an Alocasia Zebrina?
  6. Is the Alocasia Zebrina toxic to pets?
  7. How large does an Alocasia Zebrina get?
  8. Alocasia Zebrina Character traits
    1. Dropping leaves
    2. Sweating leaves
  9. Other Alocasias with similar care
    1. Alocasia Stingray
    2. Alocasia Cucullata

Let's get started and learn how to take care of the Alocasia Zebrina!

Humidity and watering

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The Alocasia Zebrina is a tropical plant, which means it needs a humid environment. If it gets too dry, it'll become vulnerable to pests.

Luckily, there is a very simple way to keep this plant humid enough: mist it occasionally. It's best to do this at least once per week in the morning. By misting your Alocasia Zebrina, you also prevent the leaves from becoming dusty. It makes your plant look healthier and it'll be happier with the added humidity.

When should I water my Alocasia Zebrina?

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This plant loves a humid climate, but that doesn't mean it likes to be watered a lot. It's better to underwater this plant slightly. Its thick stems contain a lot of moisture, so it won't need to be watered as often as you would expect. The long stems will store a lot of moisture, which means it's quite easy to see when your plant is thirsty. When all stems start to droop slightly, their stems are no longer full of moisture and it needs to be watered.

If only a single stem starts to droop, don't water your plant. A single drooping stem could mean that your plant is trying to replace it with a new leaf.

How do I water an Alocasia Zebrina?

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A simple trick you can use when watering this plant is to water it until water starts to drip out of the drainage hole. When the water drips out of the drainage hole, the soil has absorbed all the moisture it can. Draining the excess water is important to prevent root rot. The Alocasia Zebrina doesn't like to sit in wet soil and this will cause root rot quite quickly.

Nursery pot inside of a pot without drainage holes

Nursery pot inside of a pot without drainage holes

If you don't have a pot with a drainage hole, you can use the plastic pot it came in and place it inside of the "permanent" pot. You can see this in the image above. Now, when you want to water your Alocasia Zebrina, you can lift out the nursery pot and put it in a sink.

Now you can water your plant, drain the excess water, and put it back into its pot without drainage holes. If this is also not an option for you, simply water it more often, but only in very small quantities. The goal is to keep the soil slightly damp, but not so much that your Alocasia sits in wet soil.

For a lot of plants, you can simply touch the soil and if it feels dry, you can water it. This is not the case for this plant. This Alocasia is very sensitive to water. The best way to determine if it needs a drink (besides the drooping stems), is to lift the pot and if it feels light, water it. This could take some practice. So when you see your plant drooping, don't water it immediately, but lift it first. Now you will be able to tell what its “dry” weight is for the next time.

How much sunlight does an Alocasia Zebrina need?

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Alocasia Zebrina in the sun

The Alocasia Zebrina needs a lot of sunlight. I have it in a room with a south-facing window, so it gets a lot of sun during the day. Don't put it right next to the window though, this will burn its beautiful, big leaves. If your plant gets slightly yellow leaves, you know the sun was too much for the plant and you'll need to move it to a slightly more shady spot. If you don't have a room with a south-facing window, that's no problem! You can also place it next to the west or east-facing window.

These rooms won't get as much sun, but by placing the plant right next to the window, it'll still be enough throughout the day.

Rotating the plant

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This plant craves sunlight, even to such an extent that if you don't give it enough of this, it'll start to become leggy (stretch its stems) and grow towards the light.

If you don't pay enough attention to this, the plant will grow to one side, instead of up. A simple solution to prevent this "reaching for the light" is to rotate this plant 90 degrees after every time you water it. If your plant is not reaching for the sun, you don't have to do anything, your plant is content with its place.

What is the best type of soil for an Alocasia Zebrina?

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The soil choice is very important when keeping plants. You need to look at the specific needs of each plant. As mentioned earlier in this guide, this plant should be underwatered rather than overwatered, because overwatering could kill it. A way to make sure that the chances of overwatering are reduced is by using very well-draining soil. This will make sure all excess water is drained out of the pot and only the minimum required water stays behind. As this plant is very sensitive to overwatering, this is perfect. It will only be able to absorb a minimal amount of water and its roots won't be at risk of rotting as easily.

How often should I fertilize an Alocasia Zebrina?

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The Alocasia Zebrina grows really quickly in its growing period from spring until the early autumn. During this time, you should fertilize the plant every two weeks to give it the energy it needs to keep growing so quickly. Always make sure you flush the remnants of the fertilizer out every few months. You can do this by watering the plant thoroughly and letting the water drain through the bottom of the pot. This will keep the soil a habitable place for your plant.

What is the best pot size for an Alocasia Zebrina?

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The Alocasia Zebrina loves to be rootbound in a small pot. So don't repot this plant in a larger pot too quickly. It's very happy to be in a small pot. When you eventually do have to move this plant to a bigger pot, make sure to do this in small increments. You want the Alocasia to settle in a slightly bigger pot quickly to keep it happy. When you see the roots start to come out of the bottom of the pot, you know your Zebrina is a happy plant.

Is the Alocasia Zebrina toxic to pets?

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The Alocasia Zebrina is poisonous when ingested and the sap from its stem can irritate your skin. So it's best to keep this plant out of reach from small children and pets. This way you can enjoy this plant to the fullest and it will look the most beautiful in the long run.

How large does an Alocasia Zebrina get?

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Alocasia Zebrinas can range quite a bit in size, from small plants grown from bulbs to large mature plants that are as tall as 3 feet. Other plants in the Alocasia family can get much bigger, but the Alocasia Zebrina stays small enough to be the perfect houseplant.

Alocasia Zebrina Character traits

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Every plant has its character traits, like growing flowers. The Alocasia Zebrina also has a few character traits that look worse than they are. This section is to help you understand why your plant does what it does and why you shouldn't blame yourself for things your plant naturally does.

Dropping leaves

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When an Alocasia Zebrina is growing, it will put out quite a few leaves in a short period. Until a certain point, this does not affect the plant at all. Once your plant has about 5 leaves, it'll start to drop the weakest leaves spectacularly. The image below is what this looks like.

Dropped Alocasia Zebrina leaf

The plant cuts off the nutrients to the weakest leaves to preserve them for new growth. The plant can only sustain 4-5 leaves at once and when new leaves are being grown, the old and weak ones will die. There is nothing wrong with this, this is how the plant naturally behaves. There is no way to save the leaf and you should see it as a good sign that there are new leaves on the way.

Sweating leaves

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When you take care of your Alocasia Zebrina, you might have seen water drops on the leaves before. These appear when your plant is a little overwatered and it's trying to "sweat" the excess water off by letting it escape from tiny pores in the leaves. This is no reason for concern, the plant is fine. However, it's good to keep in mind for watering your plants next time.

Other Alocasias with similar care

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Several other Alocasias require similar care to the Alocasia Zebrina. So if you have one of the following Alocasia plants, you can use this guide to take care of your Alocasia as well.

Alocasia Stingray

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Alocasia Stingray

The Alocasia Stringray looks a little bit like the Alocasia Zebrina. The stems store moisture just like the Alocasia Zebrina and have very similar sunlight requirements to the Alocasia Zebrina.

Alocasia Cucullata

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Alocasia Cucullata

The Alocasia Cucullata looks different than the other Alocasias, but it still has the big stems that store all that moisture. That's why it can go quite a while without being watered.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: alocasia

Posted on: May 4, 2019 Last updated on: Oct 14, 2022

Other common names for this plant

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

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Frequently asked questions

How often should I water my Alocasia Zebrina?
It's time to water the Alocasia Zebrina when the leaves start to droop down. This is a sign that the stems aren't full of water anymore. When the stems are full, the leaves will be raised again.
Do I need to mist my Alocasia Zebrina every day?
Alocasia Zebrinas love humidity. One way of achieving this is misting the big leaves daily. However, if you have other measures in place to keep the humidity high (above 60%), you won't have to mist the leaves daily.
Should I rotate my Alocasia Zebrina?
Alocasia Zebrinas grow towards the light. To avoid the plant growing to one side you can rotate it 90 degrees every day to keep the plant straight.
What is the best place to put an Alocasia Zebrina?
Alocasia Zebrinas are tropical plants and they need a lot of light. They can't surive in darker areas, so make sure to keep a light spot free for this beautiful plant. Bright indirect light is ideal, but direct sun is also fine if it's not more than 4 hours per day.
When is the dormancy period for the Alocasia Zebrina?
The Alocasia Zebrina becomes dormany in the late autumn and all of the winter. It starts to grow again in the spring and does so throughout the summer and early autumn.
Why are my Alocasia Zebrina leaves turning yellow?
The Alocasia Zebrina can only sustain about 4-5 leaves per plant. Once it exceeds this number, it'll cut off the nutrients to older and weaker leaves. It does this to give the new leaves the nutrients they need to grow quickly.
Why is my Alocasia Zebrina dripping water from its leaves?
When your Alocasia Zebrina is dripping water from its leaves, it means it's slightly overwatered and it's trying to get rid of the excess water by sweating it off. The excess water escapes from tiny pores in the leaf. This is normal and no reason for concern, your plant is fine.
Is an Alocasia Zebrina poisonous?
Yes, the Alocasia Zebrina is poisonous and should be kept out of reach of pets and small children.
How tall do Alocasia Zebrinas grow?
Alocasia Zebrinas grow to about 3 feet tall, so they're not small houseplants, but they stay small enough to fit in smaller spaces.

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