Calathea Zebrina Growing Tips, Care and Propagation

There are a number of Calathea types. One of the most common one is called Calathea zebrina, which is also known as Geoppertia zebra or zebra plant. This type of Calathea features straight, light green stripes that stand out against the dark green background.

Just like any other plants in your home or garden, Calathea zebrina also needs care. Keep reading the post until the end to find out tips, care and propagation.

Calathea Zebrina

Growing Tips

If you want to successfully grow Calathea zebrina, you can try to follow some of the following tips:

  • It is better for you to repot in spring.
  • While any container material works well as long as it drains from the bottom, the best one is terra cotta as it will allow the soil to dry out quicker compared to the ones that are made of plastic and need more frequent watering.
  • Use a rich potting mix with a peaty base is needed.
  • Report this plant at the same depth as it was originally growing. Do not plant it too deep as it puts undue stress on the plant.


  • Light

Light for calathea zebrina

The best light for Calathea zebrina is a shady to partially shady location. When you grow it as a houseplant, it is a must for you to give it bright or medium, indirect light. Make sure to not locate it in the area with direct sunlight. It is not recommended especially during the hottest part of the day, which is afternoon. If you put that in such a place, the foliage will lose the color or there will be brown patches.

  • Soil

Calathea zebrina soil

Apparently, Calathea zebrina grows along the rainforest floor in its natural habitat. The rainforest floor is where the consistently most soil is fertile with fallen leaves and other plant debris. Using a fertile, peaty mixture with good drainage is best when you replicate this soil at your place for this plant that is placed in a pot.

While it is true that the Calathea zebrina needs a moist soil medium, it does not mean you can use a heavy soil mixture with the tendency to retain too much water for too long a period because rot can occur. Please avoid using a fast-draining mix that has too much sand unless you want to have issues with keeping the soil moist. The best mix for this plant is a mix of one part potting soil, two parts peat and two parts perlite. Apart from that, you can also consider a lot of African violet mixes.

  • Temperature

Temperature for calathea zebrina

As Calathea zebrina is native to tropical areas where temperatures remain year-round, it is recommended for you to grow it in an indoor location with the average temperatures between 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not place it in locations exposed to hot or cold drafts, unless you want for the edges of the leaves of your plant to brown or for the leaves to curl. In addition, cold drafts can also cause wilting and leaf yellowing. If you are thinking of taking this plant outside over the summer months, just do it. However, when the temperature starts to get cooler, bring it back indoors.

  • Water

Water for calathea zebrina

One of the most important things to keep in mind is to keep the soil lightly moist but not too saturated. Do not waterlogged soil but do not allow it to completely dry out either. Allowing the soil to dry excessively will result in the plant to wilt and the leaves will curl. Try your best to avoid that as it can cause the plant to struggle.

During the spring and summer, it will be needed for you to give Calathea zebrina more water in order to keep the soil moist. As for the winter, this plant will go into dormancy and will grow slowly, so please reduce the water.

  • Humidity

Just like watering, knowing about the humidity is also important. High humidity is needed. Without it, the foliage will turn brown at the tips and edges. Not only that, the leaves will curl and the plant will fail to grow.

If your place does not naturally have humidity levels of more than 50% and ideally more than 60%, please do something to increase this so that your plant will be healthy. One of the things that you can do includes placing the plant in a room where a humidifier is being used.

  • Fertilizer

It is better for the Calathea zebrina to be fertilized every month with a very dilute, balanced fertilizer solution. Avoid feeding it during fall and winter as it stops active growth. There are a number of fertilizers to choose from, including both organic and synthetic options.


The most recommended way to propagate Calathea zebrina is by division in spring. Aside from that, it is also able to be done in early summer. While it is true that it does not require much technical skill, propagation can be tricky as this plant is pretty sensitive to this process. Besides, you are also suggested to divide a plant that is growing too large for its existing pot as it is the best way to maintain the size of the plant.

Calathea zebrina propagation

Dividing the mature mother plant is good as it will result in getting additional plants. If you want to try this, you can just remove the mother plant from its pot and then gently divide the root system. Please do it carefully. As for dividing the root system, feel free to do it manually or with a sharp knife.

Once you are done with the process of dividing the Calathea, the next thing that you have to do is to repot it in a container. Talking about the container, it should be the one with bottom drain holes. Besides, it also should be filled with a rich, peaty soil that drains well. Do not forget to also plant the divided section no deeper compared to when it was originally growing. It is also important to place it back in the same environment conditions as it was originally growing.

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