Zebra plants appeal to all gardeners

It only took part of a moment for me to fall in love with this plant. I was probably 14 years old then, and I found it growing in a wholesale greenhouse in Conroe. I remember the day.

Floral spike becomes more pronounced and still more spectacular as the weeks pass.

I’ve grown zebra plants on and off for 60 years since, and I have to tell you: They’re like some people – beautiful but temperamental. I don’t know that I’ll ever perfect my growing techniques for this plant. But here’s what I’ve gleaned from the experts over the many years.

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Here are the important details…
Common name: Zebra plant
Scientific name: Aphelandra squarrosa. In the Acanthaceae plant family.
Native home: Brazil
Hardiness Zones: Zones 11 and 12 (totally tropical, cannot withstand freezes)
Mature size: to 3-4 ft. tall and 2-3 ft. wide, although rarely grows that large in pots.

It’s easy to see where zebra plants got their common name. The plants are almost as stunning when they’re not blooming as they are when they’re in flower.

Lighting requirement: Indoors needs bright light, even morning sun. Outdoors in summer needs light shade in mornings, heavy shade from noon on.

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Soil requirements: Highly organic (lots of sphagnum peat moss) and always moist.
Fertilizer needs: High-nitrogen, complete food applied every second or third time that it’s watered.
Temperature requirements: 65F is ideal, certainly nothing colder in winter. Maintain high humidity to avoid leaf scorch and lower leaf drop.
Blooms for many weeks during growing season.
Propagated from stem cuttings.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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