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Aphelandra Squarrosa White Wash Care Guide (Zebra Plant)

Last Updated on May 31, 2021 by Sophie

A fairly hardy houseplant known for its beautiful foliage, and is thus nicknamed the ‘zebra plant,’ the Aphelandra Squarrosa will make a wonderful addition to your indoor jungle. What’s more is that it’s pet-friendly. Here’s a complete Alephandra Squarrosa White Wash care guide, as well as watering tips and how to propagate this unique looking plant.

You should note that there are two plants which are referred to as ‘zebra plants,’ and with the exception of sharing a nickname, they have nothing in common. Whereas one zebra plant is a type of Calathea (Calathea zebrina), the other is the Aphelandra Squarrosa, which is part of the family Acanthaceae.

The most common form of Apehlandra Squarrosa is characterised by its dark glossy green leaves which are marked by white stripes. The White Wash variety was created in 2011 in the Netherlands when a regular Aphelandra Squarrosa was crossed with an Aphelandra Squarrosa ‘Snow White’.

In stark contrast with the usual cultivar, White Wash is easily recognised by its grey/ light being leaves marked with green stripes. The plant is rarer than Apehlandra Squarrosa cultivars and originates from the jungles of Brazil. An evergreen shrub, the zebra plant can grow up to 1-2 metres tall in the wild.

Aphelandra Squarrosa White Wash Care Guide (Zebra Plant)

Aphelandra Squarrosa White Wash Plant Care & Watering Guide

Watering your Zebra plant

Much like Calatheas, the Aphelandra likes to be moist at all times but doesn’t enjoy its feet sitting in water. As such, keep the plant’s substrate damp, but don’t overwater it as this can lead to root rot.  As a general rule of thumb, the plant will need to be watered around once a week during the summer months and every few weeks during the winter.

The best way to water this plant is little but often, as opposed to the soak and leave method which is best employed for succulent-like plants. Much like Calatheas, the plant is particularly prone to brown leaf tips and is sensitive to humidity levels. Grouping plants together will ensure higher humidity levels and help stop the leaves from becoming crispy and browning.

Best soil conditions for the Aphelandra Squarrosa White Wash

Like many indoor plants which originated in jungles, the zebra plant will do best in a well-draining soil/ substrate such as peat moss which includes some organic material. You can usually buy a mix which is well-suited to indoor jungle plants in your local gardening store. The plant will do best in temperatures of between 18-21 degrees Celsius (i.e. room temperature)

Aphelandra Squarrosa White Wash Care Guide (Zebra Plant)

Best light conditions for the Zebra Plant

The Aphelandra Squarrosa will do best in bright indirect sunlight, such as in a North facing window or several feet away from a South facing window. Be careful not to leave the plant in bright sunlight, particularly during the summer months, as this can lead the plant to drying out too quickly and can also result in the leaves burning.

The plant will also survive in lower light conditions, but will need less water and will grow slower as a result. With this in mind, it’s worth noting that (although rare), the plant will occasionally flower when kept indoors. In order for this to happen, the plant will generally have to receive higher daily light levels.

Due to having less chlorophyll in the leaves (which is how the leaves are so pale), the white wash Aphelandra Squarrosa will need brighter conditions than its darker green counterparts. In my personal experience, I also find that variegated varieties of plants tend to grow at a slower rate than their non-variegated counterparts.

Aphelandra Squarrosa White Wash Care Guide (Zebra Plant)

Aphelandra Squarrosa Plant Propagation

Much like many aroid plants, the zebra plant is easily propagated via leaf cuttings. Simply take a stem section of around 10-15 cm long, remove the lower leaves, and place the cutting in water. Within a few weeks (or a little longer if the cuttings are taken during the winter), roots will soon start to form.

Then you just need to pot up your rooted cutting and you’ll have a wonderful new plant to give as a gift or add to your ever-growing plant collection. When watering a newly rooted cutting, be sure not to overwater the plant as the roots will be small and more prone to root rot than a larger and more established plant.

Common Aphelandra Squarrosa Problems

Brown/ crispy leaves

One of the most common problems when it comes to the Aphelandra squarrosa is brown and crispy leaves. Though this can occasionally be caused by pests, if it’s the exterior edges of the leaves that are crispy the most common culprit is an improper watering schedule.

Much like many Calathea varieties, Aphelandras are prone to crispy leaves if they do not receive adequate levels or humidity or if they’re allowed to dry out between waterings. In order to solve this issue, you’ll want to stick to a regular watering schedule. 

Humidity levels cane become a problem in a home environment, especially during the winter when central heating can dry out the air in your home. In order to improve this, you can group similar plants together (as long as they have been through a period of quarantine and do not appear to have any pests) and mist your plants on a semi-regular basis. 

The plant is becoming leggy

If your plant is beginning to appear sparse (the leaves are growing far apart) or its stems are looking leggy, then this is a surefire sign that the plant is not receiving enough light. If plants aren’t receiving enough sunlight, then they will start to grow towards their light source.

When this happens, be sure to move your Aphelandra Squarrosa to a brighter spot immediately. Be sure that the light is not harsh direct light as this can lead to leaf burn, from which the leaves cannot recover.

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Aphelandra Squarrosa White Wash Care Guide (Zebra Plant)/ propagation, watering

About Author

Sophie Nadeau is a travel, pizza, and history lover who is currently based in Paris, France. A keen indoor gardener, she spends her time at home reading books, looking at too many dog photos, and growing an indoor jungle in her tiny flat!