The Q&A Archives: Zebra Plant

Question: I bought a zebra plant with no yellow flowers. Each time I buy one for my apartment, place it in the sunny morning side of the living room and water it twice a week, all I get are green leaves but they eventually wither and die like leaves in the fall. Sometimes the stems grow very thin with leaves but nothing else. I know the yellow flowers bloom summer and fall but I can't get my plant to last more than 1 yr and they don't bloom. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) is given a "care rating" of "demanding" in Houseplants for Dummies, by Larry Hodgson and NGA, so if you've revived it that's a great step! It has a "flower" that is actually a dense spike of bright yellow bracts which form at the tip of the stem. It forms in summer or fall and can last for several months. The tubular yellow flowers, however, are short-lived.

Zebra plant is hard to grow because it requires very high humidity. You might try setting it on a tray with pebbles and water to promote more humidity. Don't let the water soak up into the pot. It wants bright to medium light, to be kept moderately moist, normal indoor temps, all-purpose fertilizer and a soilless mix. It can be propagated from stem cuttings after it blooms. Good luck!

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