Calathea Zebrina Care Guide | Tips, Photos & Videos

Are you looking to add an exotic touch to your indoor space? Meet the Calathea Zebrina, a stunning tropical houseplant admired for its unique striped foliage. But with its distinctive beauty comes specific care requirements. How well do you know the secrets to successfully caring for this captivating plant?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive Calathea Zebrina Care Guide, we’ll delve into the essential tips and tricks to keep your plant healthy and thriving. From understanding its origins to uncovering the best light and humidity conditions, we’ll explore everything you need to know to cultivate a flourishing Calathea Zebrina.

So, are you ready to unlock the secrets to successfully caring for this captivating plant? Let’s dive in!

Features and foliage patterns

calathea zebrina care

Calathea zebrina is renowned for its unique features and stunning foliage patterns. The leaves of this plant exhibit a vibrant combination of bright green hues adorned with dark green stripes, reminiscent of the patterns found on a zebra. With leaves reaching up to two feet in length, the foliage of calathea zebrina adds a touch of elegance and vibrancy to any indoor space. Its distinctive coloration and striking patterns make it an eye-catching addition to your home or office.

Origins and Common Names

Calathea zebrina, commonly known as the zebra plant, is native to the tropical rainforests of Bolivia in South America. This tropical plant thrives in warm and humid environments, replicating the conditions of its native habitat. Belonging to the Marantaceae family, calathea zebrina is often referred to as the zebra plant due to its distinct striped foliage, resembling the patterns of a zebra. In addition to its common name, it is also known as the prayer plant, reflecting the unique behavior of its leaves that fold and raise at night.

Calathea zebrina is a unique and stunning plant that has captivated indoor plant enthusiasts with its striking appearance and captivating behavior. Its origins and common names reflect its distinctive characteristics, making it a popular choice among houseplant enthusiasts.

Where to Buy Calathea Zebrina

Calathea Zebrina
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Calathea zebrina is a popular houseplant that can be purchased from a variety of sources, including local plant nurseries and online stores. If you prefer to see and choose your plants in person, visiting a local plant nursery or garden center is a great option. These establishments often have a wide selection of indoor plants, including calathea zebrina, and knowledgeable staff who can provide guidance on care and maintenance.

You may visit etsy shop to buy plants.

When buying calathea zebrina, it’s important to choose a reputable seller or store that offers healthy and well-cared-for plants. Check customer reviews and ratings to gauge the quality of their products and customer service. Additionally, consider purchasing from sellers who specialize in houseplants or have a good track record of selling healthy and thriving calathea zebrina plants.

Quick Calathea Zebrina Care Overview

Here is a quick overview of the care requirements for calathea zebrina:

Common NameZebra plant
Botanical NameCalathea zebrina
LightRequires bright, indirect light
TemperatureOptimal range is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit
HumidityNeeds high humidity levels above 50%
WateringKeep soil slightly moist, but not saturated
SoilWell-draining, loamy soil mix
FertilizingLight, balanced feeding during the growing season
PruningRemove yellow or damaged leaves and trim leggy stems
RepottingEvery two years or when root-bound
ToxicityCan be toxic if ingested, keep away from pets and children
PropagationDivide when separate rosettes of leaves form at the base

Height & Growth Rate

Calathea Zebrina

Calathea zebrina can grow up to three feet in height, making it a relatively tall houseplant. The growth rate of calathea zebrina is relatively slow, so you don’t have to worry about it quickly outgrowing its pot or space. With proper care and the right conditions, the plant will gradually grow and develop over time.

Where to Place Calathea Zebrina

Calathea Zebrina
Calathea Zebrina

When choosing a spot to place your calathea zebrina, it is important to consider its natural habitat and specific light requirements. Calathea zebrina is native to the tropical rainforests of South America, where it grows under the shade of large trees and other tropical plants. Therefore, it is best to place your calathea zebrina in a spot that receives bright, indirect light. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, as this can burn the leaves. Indoors, a spot near a bright window, but not directly in the sun, is ideal for calathea zebrina.

Light Requirements

Proper lighting is essential for the health and growth of your Calathea Zebrina. This plant requires bright, indirect light to thrive. In its natural habitat, the Calathea Zebrina grows under the shade of larger trees and other plants, receiving filtered, dappled light. When growing indoors, it is important to replicate these light conditions to ensure optimal growth.

Place your Calathea Zebrina in a spot near a bright window, but away from direct sunlight. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves of the plant. If natural light is limited in your indoor space, you can also use artificial grow lights to provide the necessary light for your Calathea Zebrina.

The image above showcases the Calathea Zebrina and its preferred lighting conditions. With bright, indirect light, your Calathea Zebrina will flourish and display its vibrant striped foliage.

Temperature Requirements

Calathea zebrina thrives in warm temperatures and prefers a temperature range between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining the optimal temperature is crucial for the plant’s growth and overall health. It is important to avoid exposing the plant to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as this can cause damage and hinder its growth.

Keeping your calathea zebrina in a location with a consistent temperature within its preferred range is essential. This ensures that the plant can thrive and display its vibrant and striking foliage to its full potential.

To provide the optimal temperature for your calathea zebrina, consider the following tips:

  1. Place your calathea zebrina in a room with a stable temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Avoid placing the plant near drafts, air conditioning units, or heat sources, as these can create temperature fluctuations.
  3. Monitor the temperature regularly, especially during extreme weather conditions or seasonal changes.
  4. If the temperature drops below the recommended range, consider using a space heater or heating pad to provide supplemental warmth.

Proper temperature management is crucial for the health and well-being of your calathea zebrina. By providing the ideal temperature range, you can ensure optimal growth and vibrant foliage.

Remember that each plant is unique, and some variations in temperature tolerance may occur. It is vital to observe your calathea zebrina’s response to temperature changes and adjust accordingly to create the ideal growing conditions.

Humidity Requirements

Calathea zebrina is native to a humid climate, and therefore, it requires high humidity to thrive. Ideally, the humidity level should be maintained above 50%, with a preference for levels above 60%. In tropical climates, maintaining high humidity is easier, but for indoor calathea zebrina plants, you may need to take additional steps to increase humidity. This can be achieved by using a humidifier, placing the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water, or regularly misting the leaves.

Watering Calathea Zebrina

Proper watering is crucial for the health of your calathea zebrina. It is important to keep the soil slightly moist but not overly saturated. Water your calathea zebrina when the top inch of soil starts to dry out. This can vary depending on the season, climate, and humidity levels. Generally, watering once a week during the growing season and less frequently during winter is recommended. However, always check the moisture level of the soil before watering. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot, and make sure the pot has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

Soil Requirements and Best Potting Mix

Calathea zebrina, being a tropical plant, requires specific soil conditions to thrive. It is important to provide well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging and root rot. The ideal soil for calathea zebrina is loamy and moist but well-drained. This allows the roots to access the necessary moisture while also ensuring excess water can easily drain away.

A suitable potting mix can be created by combining potting soil, perlite, and peat. The potting soil provides a nutritious base, while the perlite aids in drainage and aeration. The peat retains moisture, keeping the soil consistently moist but not overly saturated. This combination provides an ideal balance for the roots of calathea zebrina.

Avoid using heavy clay soils or soils that retain too much moisture, as this can lead to root rot. Additionally, it is important to repot your calathea zebrina every two years or when it becomes root-bound. This helps ensure that the plant has adequate space and optimal soil conditions to support healthy growth.

Fertilizing Calathea Zebrina

Fertilization is an optional step in the care of calathea zebrina since it is a slow-growing plant. However, if you notice stunted growth or weak-looking leaves, fertilizing can provide the necessary nutrients to enhance its health and vitality. It is essential to choose the right fertilizer and apply it appropriately to avoid any harm to the plant.

During the growing season, which typically occurs from spring to summer, you can use a light, well-balanced fertilizer for calathea zebrina. Dilute the fertilizer to a quarter strength to prevent over-fertilization, which can have detrimental effects on the plant’s delicate root system. A diluted fertilizer will provide the necessary nutrients without overwhelming the plant.

It is crucial to reduce or stop fertilizing during the fall and winter months when calathea zebrina enters its dormant phase. During this time, the plant’s growth slows down, and it requires fewer nutrients. Over-fertilizing during the dormant phase can lead to nutrient buildup in the soil, which can cause root burn and other problems.

When choosing a fertilizer for calathea zebrina, opt for a complete and balanced formula with a similar ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Look for a fertilizer specifically formulated for houseplants or tropical plants. These fertilizers often contain essential micronutrients that are beneficial for calathea zebrina’s overall health.

Always follow the instructions provided by the fertilizer manufacturer regarding application rates and frequency. Over-fertilization can result in nutrient toxicity, damaging the plant’s roots and causing leaf burn. Remember, it’s better to under-fertilize than to over-fertilize when it comes to calathea zebrina.

Regularly monitor your plant’s growth and appearance. If you notice any signs of nutrient deficiencies or poor growth, you may consider testing the soil to determine if fertilization is necessary. However, in most cases, calathea zebrina thrives without frequent fertilization, and providing it with the right care and conditions is usually enough to ensure its optimal health and beauty.

Pruning and Grooming

Calathea Zebrina
Calathea Zebrina

Regular pruning and grooming are essential to maintain the neat and tidy appearance of your calathea zebrina. Proper pruning techniques not only improve the overall aesthetics of the plant but also promote its health and vitality. Here are some important tips on pruning and grooming your calathea zebrina:

1. Removing Yellow or Damaged Leaves: Promptly remove any yellow or damaged leaves from your calathea zebrina. These leaves can be a sign of underlying issues or diseases that may affect the plant’s health. Use a pair of clean and sterile pruning shears or scissors to make clean cuts near the base of the leaf stem.

2. Trimming Leggy or Overgrown Stems: If you notice that some stems of your calathea zebrina are becoming leggy or overgrown, consider trimming them back. This will help encourage bushier growth and maintain a more compact shape. Make sure to trim just above a node or leaf joint to promote new growth.

3. Cleaning and Dusting the Foliage: Wiping the leaves of your calathea zebrina with a soft, damp cloth can help remove dust and keep the foliage clean and vibrant. Alternatively, you can give the plant a gentle shower under lukewarm water to wash away any accumulated dust or debris. Avoid using leaf shine products, as they can clog the plant’s pores and hinder its ability to transpire.

By practicing regular pruning and grooming, you can ensure that your calathea zebrina remains healthy, visually appealing, and a source of pride in your indoor space. Remember to always use clean and sterile tools to prevent the spread of diseases, and take the time to appreciate the unique beauty of your calathea zebrina’s foliage.

How and When to Repot Calathea Zebrina

Calathea Zebrina root

Repotting your calathea zebrina is necessary when it becomes root-bound or outgrows its current pot. The frequency of repotting depends on the growth rate of your plant, but generally, repotting every two years is sufficient. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to repot your calathea zebrina:

  1. Choose a pot that is two inches larger in diameter than the current pot. Make sure it has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.
  2. Before repotting, thoroughly water your calathea zebrina to hydrate the roots and make it easier to remove from the current pot.
  3. Gently loosen the root ball by carefully tapping the sides of the pot, or using a fork or your fingers. Be cautious not to damage the roots.
  4. Place the plant in the new pot, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the rim of the pot.
  5. Fill in the gaps around the roots with fresh, well-draining potting soil. Gently press the soil to ensure it is firmly in place.
  6. Avoid burying the stem too deep, as this can lead to stem rot. The stem should be at the same level as it was in the previous pot.
  7. Water the plant thoroughly after repotting to settle the soil. Allow any excess water to drain out through the drainage holes.

Repotting provides your calathea zebrina with fresh nutrients, space for root growth, and prevents the roots from becoming overcrowded. It is best to repot in the spring or summer, when the plant is actively growing. Remember to monitor your plant’s growth and adjust the repotting schedule accordingly. Repotting can be a stressful process for the plant, so be sure to provide it with proper aftercare, such as appropriate lighting and watering.

By following these repotting guidelines, you can ensure the continued health and vitality of your calathea zebrina.


It is important to note that calathea zebrina is toxic to both pets and humans if ingested. The leaves and stems of the plant contain compounds that can cause gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, if consumed. Therefore, it is essential to keep calathea zebrina out of reach of pets and children. If you have pets or young children in your home, it is advisable to choose pet-safe and child-safe plants to ensure their safety.

How to Propagate Calathea Zebrina

Calathea zebrina can be propagated through division. When your calathea zebrina has produced separate rosettes of leaves at the base of the plant, it is an ideal time to propagate. Follow these steps to propagate your calathea zebrina:

  1. Carefully remove the parent plant from its pot, ensuring that you minimize any damage to the roots.
  2. Inspect the plant for healthy rosettes of leaves that have their own root system.
  3. Using clean and sharp gardening shears or a knife, carefully separate the rosettes from the parent plant.
  4. Ensure that each rosette has at least a few roots attached to it.
  5. Prepare separate pots or containers with a well-draining potting mix suitable for calathea zebrina.
  6. Plant each rosette in its own pot, making sure not to bury the stem too deep, and gently firm the soil around the plant.
  7. Water the newly potted rosettes thoroughly and place them in a warm and humid location with bright, indirect light.

With proper care and regular watering, the propagated rosettes should establish roots and start growing as individual plants. It is important to provide them with the same care and conditions as the parent plant to ensure their healthy growth.

Seasonal Care Guide

Calathea zebrina requires different care throughout the seasons to thrive and maintain its stunning striped foliage. Here is a seasonal care guide to help you care for your calathea zebrina throughout the year:


  • Increase watering frequency as the temperatures rise and the plant enters its active growth phase.
  • Monitor humidity levels and mist the leaves regularly to provide the necessary moisture.
  • Inspect the plant for any pests that may appear with the warmer weather.
  • Consider fertilizing with a balanced, diluted fertilizer to support healthy growth.


  • Continue to water regularly, ensuring the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  • Provide ample indirect light while protecting the plant from intense midday sun.
  • Maintain high humidity levels by misting the leaves and using other humidification methods.
  • Trim any leggy or overgrown growth to promote bushier, more compact growth.


  • Gradually reduce watering frequency as the cooler temperatures and lower light levels slow the plant’s growth.
  • Monitor humidity levels and adjust misting accordingly as humidity may drop with the changing weather.
  • Inspect the plant regularly for common pests and take appropriate actions for control.
  • Reduce or stop fertilizing as the plant enters its dormant phase.


  • Water sparingly, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings to prevent overwatering.
  • Provide bright, indirect light, but avoid exposing the plant to drafts or cold temperatures.
  • Maintain humidity levels by using a humidifier or grouping plants together.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of common winter pests and treat accordingly.

By following these seasonal care tips, you can ensure that your calathea zebrina remains healthy and vibrant throughout the year, showcasing its stunning striped foliage.

Common Varieties of Calathea Zebrina

While calathea zebrina is primarily known for its distinctive striped foliage, there are also variations and cultivars available. Some common varieties of calathea zebrina include:

  • Calathea Zebrina ‘Rattlesnake’: This variety features thinner, elongated leaves with vibrant green stripes that resemble the patterns of a rattlesnake.
  • Calathea Zebrina ‘Tiger’: The ‘Tiger’ variety of calathea zebrina showcases broader leaves with bolder, darker green stripes, resembling the patterns of a tiger.
  • Calathea Zebrina ‘Zebra White’: In this variety, the stripes on the leaves are primarily white, creating a striking contrast against the bright green background.

These are just a few examples of the diverse range of calathea zebrina cultivars available. Each variety offers a unique twist on the classic zebra plant, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your personal preferences and aesthetic.

Common Pests and How to Control

While calathea zebrina is relatively resistant to pests, it can still be susceptible to common houseplant pests. Some pests that may affect calathea zebrina include aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. To control and prevent infestations, regularly inspect your plant for any signs of pests, such as webbing, sticky residue, or distorted leaves. If you notice any pests, gently wipe the leaves with a damp cloth or use an insecticidal soap or neem oil spray. Quarantine any infested plants to prevent the spread of pests to other plants in your collection.


Calathea zebrina is a beautiful and unique houseplant, but like any plant, it may encounter some common issues. Understanding how to troubleshoot these problems is key to maintaining the health and beauty of your calathea zebrina.

Curling Leaves

If you notice the leaves of your calathea zebrina curling, it could be a sign of dry air or inadequate watering. Calathea zebrina thrives in high humidity, so try increasing the humidity around the plant by placing a humidifier nearby or misting the leaves regularly. Ensure that you are watering the plant properly, keeping the soil slightly moist but not overly saturated. Adjusting these factors should help alleviate leaf curling.

Drooping Leaves

Drooping leaves on calathea zebrina can indicate both underwatering and overwatering. To determine the cause, check the moisture level of the soil. If the soil is dry, it may need more water. However, if the soil is consistently wet and the roots are sitting in water, the plant is being overwatered. Adjust your watering routine accordingly to maintain proper soil moisture and prevent drooping leaves.

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves on calathea zebrina can be a sign of several issues, including overwatering, underwatering, or direct sunlight exposure. Check the soil moisture and adjust your watering if necessary. Ensure that the plant is not receiving direct sunlight, as this can cause the leaves to yellow and burn. Find a spot with bright, indirect light for your calathea zebrina to prevent further yellowing.

Brown Edges

Brown edges on the leaves of calathea zebrina commonly indicate low humidity levels or improper watering. Increase the humidity around the plant by using a humidifier, pebble tray, or regular misting. Ensure that the plant is receiving adequate moisture by checking the soil regularly and adjusting your watering routine as needed. Keep the soil slightly moist but not waterlogged to prevent brown edges from developing.

By addressing these common issues and providing proper care, you can restore the health and vitality of your calathea zebrina. Remember to maintain a consistent watering and humidity routine, while also ensuring that the plant receives the appropriate amount of light. With these troubleshooting tips, your calathea zebrina will continue to thrive and delight with its beautiful striped foliage.

Read our guide on How to Save a Dying Calathea Plant.

Expert Tips for Healthy Growth

To ensure the healthy growth and vibrant appearance of your calathea zebrina, follow these essential care tips:

  1. Provide the right light conditions: Calathea zebrina thrives in bright, indirect light. Place it near a window with filtered sunlight, ensuring it is not exposed to direct sunlight. This will prevent leaf burn and maintain the plant’s striking foliage patterns.
  2. Maintain optimal humidity: Calathea zebrina is native to humid rainforest environments. To replicate its preferred conditions, mist the leaves regularly or use a humidifier to increase humidity levels. Placing the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water can also help create a humid microclimate.
  3. Water correctly: Proper watering is crucial for calathea zebrina. Keep the soil moist, but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Check the top inch of soil and water when it starts to dry out. Use room temperature water and ensure the pot has good drainage to prevent waterlogging.

By following these care tips, you can ensure that your calathea zebrina thrives and remains a stunning addition to your indoor plant collection.

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