One of the most beautiful, large foliage houseplants is the Alocasia zebrina.
It’s one of the most popular Alocasias for good reason, with huge arrowhead leaves, and thick, striped stems.
While it is endangered in its native Philippines, it’s grown as a houseplant all over the world for its unusual appearance, adding a stunning tropical vibe to any room.
But these plants can be tricky to care for, especially if you don’t know what they need. They aren’t exactly average leafy houseplants and need a little more attention than that.
Interested in growing your own Alocasia zebrina? Here’s what you need to know.
At A Glance: What To Know About Alocasia Zebrina
This plant goes by many names, including Elephant Ear (a name shared by many plants in the Alocasia genus), Zebra Plant, Zebrina Tiger, and Zebrina Leopard.
You’ll need plenty of space for this plant, as it can reach nearly 6 feet tall in the right conditions, spreading to 3 feet wide.
It can be fussy when it comes to caring for this plant, and you may see some yellow leaves to start with as it adapts to its new environment, so keep this in mind.
It’s worth mentioning that as an Alocasia plant, Alocasia zebrina is considered toxic.
It contains oxalate crystals that, if chewed on, cause pain, swelling, and stomach upset, so it’s worth keeping this plant away from pets and children.
How To Grow Alocasia Zebrina
Sunlight And Position
Alocasia zebrina needs a bright and indirect position, preferably as near to a window as possible to get as much energy as it can to support the huge leaves.
Direct sunlight will scorch the leaves if it’s more than gentle morning sunlight for an hour or two, so keep this in mind.
If the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight, it will get leggy and the new growth will be much smaller than it should be.
Temperature And Humidity Needs
Keep this plant away from drafty areas or sources of heat, as Alocasia zebrina needs stable conditions to thrive.
Temperatures should be no lower than 59°F (or 15°C) to keep it warm enough for this plant to grow properly, and the absolute most should be 82°F (or 27°C), but it will need watering more frequently.
As for humidity, it’s a good idea to provide this plant with higher humidity levels to keep the leaves and overall growth in good conditions, as this is what the plant is used to in its native habitat.
It may be worth investing in a humidifier if you don’t have one, or grouping this plant with ones with similar needs to create a microclimate.
Ideal Soil For Alocasia Zebrina
A standard houseplant compost mix is not enough for Alocasia zebrina, as it doesn’t have enough drainage, and it doesn’t allow lots of oxygen to the roots.
Instead, mix a houseplant compost with a handful or two of perlite, which will help sharpen up the drainage as well as aerate the soil, too.
When To Water Alocasia Zebrina
Alocasia zebrina is not a plant you can leave to its own devices for long, as it needs plenty of water to survive.
Allow the top inch of compost to dry out in between watering, and then thoroughly soak all the soil you can reach, allowing any excess water to drain.
Discard any water that collects at the bottom of the pot, as leaving the plant to sit in water can cause root rot.
Check the soil at least once a week to see if the plant needs watering, and don’t water it blindly.
Alocasia Zebrina Propagation
The best way to propagate Alocasia zebrina (See also Alocasia Flowers: Everything You Should Know) is to divide the plant once it has several established growth points in the soil.
The best time to do this is when you repot the plant, as you’ll be taking the plant out of the soil anyway.
Take the plant out of its pot, and using secateurs, divide the plant at the roots, ensuring that it has plenty of roots and some top growth.
Pot up both divisions, and put the new plant somewhere warm, not allowing the soil to dry out while the roots establish themselves in the new soil.
When To Repot Alocasia Zebrina
Alocasia zebrina is not a plant that needs repotting often, as it likes to be root-bound, and grows better that way.
Only repot the plant when you struggle to keep it hydrated, and the growth has slowed down. Do not repot in fall or winter, wait until spring when the plant is actively growing.
Should You Feed Alocasia Zebrina?
Alocasia plants are used to lots of nutrients, so it’s a good idea to feed Alocasia zebrina regularly.
Aim to feed your zebrina with a balanced houseplant feed, every fourth watering or so, making sure to follow the directions for dosage.
Scale back the feed as well as watering when the plant’s growth slows down in fall, and stop the fertilizer all together in winter, only watering just enough to keep the plant going through winter.
Should You Prune Alocasia Zebrina?
The only time you need to prune Alocasia zebrina is to take off any damaged leaves, once the plant has reabsorbed what it can and those leaves are fully yellow.
Problems to Watch Out For When Growing Alocasia Zebrina
Pests And Disease
The good news is that while Alocasia plants can be somewhat fussy to care for, these plants are fairly robust when it comes to pests and disease.
The only problem you may encounter when it comes to pests is spider mites, which will feast on your Alocasia if the air is too dry for your plant.
Try to increase the humidity, and wipe down the leaves (including the undersides) every week or so to keep them clear of pests.
Individual Leaves Dying Back
It’s worth noting that Alocasia zebrina will shed its old leaves to make room for fresh growth, so leaves dying off one at a time are nothing to worry about.
Other Things To Consider When Growing Alocasia Zebrina
Growing Alocasia Zebrina Outside
If you want to grow this tropical plant outdoors instead of inside, you’ll need to live in USDA zones 10 or 11, keeping it in a sheltered position, away from fierce sunlight and wind.
Should You Mist Alocasia Plants?
As a general rule, you should avoid misting your plants unless you’re about to wipe the leaves down.
Misting does not increase humidity, and if that is your goal, put this plant in a kitchen or bathroom, invest in a humidifier, or group similar plants together.
Alocasia zebrina is a beautiful plant that will make a statement in any room, but it can be finicky, so it’s perhaps not the best species to start with.
The good news is that this plant will soon show you if the conditions aren’t right, giving you some time to fix them.
This plant also needs plenty of space, as it will get large with time, so make sure you can give it enough room, or, divide it as it outgrows its pot to keep it more compact.