Alocasia zebrina care

In this article, you will learn everything about the care of Alocasia zebrina. Although it is one of the more demanding houseplants, with this guide, you can care for Alocasia zebrina like a pro!

Alocasia zebrina in protrait on white background.
© Cathy –

Origin of Alocasia zebrina

Alocasia originates from the tropics of Southeast Asia. It is found there in tropical and subtropical forests.

Alocasia zebrina is most commonly found in the Philippines. It was discovered there for the first time.

It belongs to the genus of the arrowleaf family (Alocasia). Therefore it automatically belongs to the family of the Arum family (Araceae).

Alocasia has many names. The most common are arrowleaf, taro or giant taro, and elephant ear.

Appearance and distinguishing features

Like many other alocasias, Alocasia zebrina has no stem. It has many stems. These are decorated with a zebra-like pattern. That is the origin of its name, zebrina.

Its long stems allow it to reach heights of up to 60 inches. At the end of each stem sits a single leaf. These leaves can reach lengths of up to 16 inches. The evergreen leaves are arrow or heart-shaped.

Because of the unique stems and huge leaves combination, the Alocasia is one of the most popular foliage ornamental plants.

The flower

Flowering develops in indoor culture only under the best conditions. Often years pass before the flower forms.

The white flower is structured like those of most arum plants. It consists of a flower stalk on which sits a cob.

A single bract encloses this spadix. When the flower appears, the bract opens, and the spadix appears.

The flower cannot pollinate itself. However, since the flowers are unisexual, you can pollinate the flower with a second alocasia.

Remove the flower if you want your houseplant to put more energy into its leaves.

The fruit

A berry will form from the flower if the Alocasia has been successfully pollinated. This berry is not suitable for consumption. However, you can use it for propagation!

The perfect location for your Alocasia zebrina

The exotic does not tolerate direct sunlight. Therefore, please place it in light to partial shade. The plant needs at least 5 hours of light daily to maximize its growth.

Therefore, especially in winter, it is essential to place it in a bright location.

It feels very comfortable at an average room temperature of 66 °F to 73 °F.

The best growth is achieved with high humidity. That is also the reason why you should not place it near radiators. If the air is too dry, its leaves will suffer. Have a look here if you want to increase your humidity.

Drafts are also a problem.

If you want, you can put it outside during the warm months. That is possible from a temperature of 64 °F. It is essential to accustom the plant to the light first.

Therefore, you should first place it in partial shade. Outside, its location should protect it from wind and rain.

Tip: For even growth, you can turn the houseplant regularly.

Overwintering Alocasia zebrina

When you overwinter your Alocasia zebrina, it is vital to place it in a bright place. During this time, it may also get direct sunlight. Since it is dormant during the winter, its metabolism is slowed down.

So it needs less water and nutrients. Therefore, you should pause fertilizing during this time.

Although the plant takes severe damage only from 41 °F, the temperature should still not fall below 63 °F.

Do not worry if the leaves die over the winter. That happens occasionally. However, it will sprout again in the spring.

Alocasia zebrina in coexistence with children and pets

The sap of the arrowleaf is poisonous. In humans, it irritates the skin and mucous membranes. In pets, on the other hand, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other poisoning symptoms.

Therefore, you should place the plant out of reach of pets and children.

If your pet or child has consumed any part of the plant, you should seek medical attention.

Fun fact: Although Alocasias are poisonous, they are considered a delicacy in many Asian countries. Depending on the species, their roots, stems, and leaves are cooked and then eaten as a garnish or paste.

Alocasia zebrina outside in a dark flower pot in partial shade.
Alocasia zebrina may spend the summer months outdoors!
(Image: © Chatchai –

Watering an Alocasia zebrina

The leaf stalk of the zebrina is succulent-like. In it, the houseplant stores water. It needs a relatively large amount of water, as it loses quite a bit of moisture through its leaves.

Managing the balancing act between too little and too much watering is crucial.

Watering should always be done with lukewarm water with a low lime content. It reacts sensitively to cold water. The substrate should be kept evenly moist if possible.

You can let the substrate dry out between watering if you wish. However, the root ball should never dry out completely.

Use the finger test to find out when you should water again. Just stick your finger into the substrate. If it feels moist and cool and the substrate sticks to your finger, you do not need to water yet.

Waterlogging should be avoided because it will damage the poorly formed roots quickly.

If you want to do something good for your Alocasia, you can increase the humidity with a humidifier. Spraying the plant does not increase the humidity but can prevent pests.

Fertilizing an Alocasia zebrina

If the substrate provides sufficient nutrients, fertilizing is optional. However, if the substrate is older than one year, the growth should be supported by regular fertilizer applications.

A No products found. is best suited for this purpose. Fertilize every two to four weeks. In winter and after repotting, fertilizing is stopped.


The substrate should provide some structure and good drainage. A slightly acidic ph level promotes nutrient uptake by the roots. Nutrient-rich ingredients support rapid growth.

Palm and green plant soil* combines these properties best. To improve drainage, you can mix sand into the substrate. Even better than premixed soils is a self-mixed aroid mix.

By the way, Alocasia is also suitable for hydroponics!

Alocasia 'Pseudo Sanderiana' leaves
The arrow leaf is especially popular because of the heart to arrow-shaped leaves. (Image: @janggle_space –

Repotting Alocasia zebrina

An arrowleaf should be repotted every two to three years. Alternatively, you can repot it as soon as you notice that the substrate is fully rooted.

The best time to repot is in the spring, just before the growing season.

When repotting, you first carefully remove the plant from its current container. Then carefully loosen the old substrate from the root ball.

Now put a layer of expanded clay in a container slightly larger than the previous one. The expanded clay supports the drainage.

Next, add a layer of the substrate. Now put the plant into the container and fill up the rest with the substrate. Now just water it, and it’s done!

Now you should refrain from fertilizing for 3 – 6 months.

Pruning the Alocasia zebrina

The arrow leaf does not need a topiary. However, you can cut off dead and yellow leaves at any time.

You should permanently remove diseased leaves as soon as possible. This way, you prevent the disease from spreading further.

When pruning, always use clean and sharp tools. That will prevent infections and bruises! Leave a 2-3 inches distance from the base of the houseplant.

Always wear gloves when cutting. The sap of Alocasia zebrina irritates the skin and mucous membranes.

Popular Alocasia species

In total, more than 79 Alocasia species are known. Only a few of them are available for purchase. I have listed the most popular species here:

Two Alocasia zebrinas in organic substrate. They are in a white flower pot and are held by a man.
(Image: @feeypflanzen –

Propagate Alocasia zebrina

If you want to propagate your Alocasia, you have different possibilities.

Propagation through the berry

If you were lucky enough to have one of your alocasia plants develop a berry, you could use it to grow a new specimen of that plant.

Remove the seeds from the ripe berry and then follow the instructions for propagation by seed.

Propagation by seed

If you order seeds of an Alocasia online, you should start the germination process as soon as possible. Sowing is possible all year round.

First, you should pour tap-hot water over the seeds. Then put them in room-warm water for two days. During this time, the seeds soak up water, which increases the germination rate.

Now the seeds are placed on growing soil. If you like, you can also add sand to the soil. That improves drainage and allows some air to the freshly germinated roots.

From this point on, keeping the substrate evenly moist is essential. If the substrate is too wet, the seeds will die. It is better to have too little moisture than too much! The water should be lukewarm and low in lime.

Now place the seeds and substrate in a bright place. The temperature must now be constantly between 77 °F and 86 °F. That is best achieved with a watering tray.

That is best achieved with a heating mat and a seed tray, which binds the moisture.

After 4 – 6 weeks, the first seeds will start to germinate. However, it is common for more seeds to germinate after this time. Once the first leaves have developed, the temperature is reduced from 64 °F to 72 °F.

After another 4 – 6 weeks, you can pot the plants up into their containers. They are no longer different from the adult specimens in their care.

Propagation by division

Many alocasias form a so-called rhizome between their roots. In summer, you can divide this rhizome into pieces about 1 inch long.

These pieces are then placed on growing soil and lightly pressed down. From now on, they must be kept evenly moist.

The best way to keep them moist is to cover them with transparent foil. A seed tray* is even better suited for such a project.

Ventilate once a day to prevent mold growth.

Keep the temperature between 70 °F and 77 °F. Already after four weeks, the first roots will form. If leaves have also developed, you can lower the temperature to 64 °F to 27 °F.

After another 4 – 6 weeks, you can repot the young plants into their containers.

Propagation by offshoots

Especially older specimens of Alocasia zebrina produce offshoots from time to time. These can be separated from the mother plant, preferably in the dormant phase.

They do not differ in their care from adult specimens. After the separation, you should refrain from fertilizing for the time being.

Propagation by cuttings

If the rhizome of your Zebrina is long enough, you can propagate it also via cuttings. Therefore cut the rhizome horizontally into multiple pieces. Each cutting should have at least a node. Even better is if a leaf is still attached. 

Let the wound callus over for a few hours, and then place the cuttings in a water bowl. You should keep the leaves above the water. 

I suggest replacing the water if a cutting starts to rot or algae start to overgrow the cuttings. Otherwise, you can keep the water. 

Place the cuttings in a bright and warm spot. Make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight. 

After a few weeks, you will see that some nodes are active and starting new growth. You can put the baby plants up when the roots are at least 2 inches long!

Some people are also suggesting that you can propagate Alocasia zebrina via a leaf. While it is true that you can root a leaf with the method mentioned above, this leaf will never start new growth. To do so, it needs a node. 

Even if you can’t propagate your plant this way, you can still use the zombie leaves to decorate your home! 

Alocasia zebrinas have dark zebra-like patterns on their petioles.
The stems of Alocasia zebrina are decorated with dark zebra-like patterns. ​(Image: © cynoclub –

Diseases, pests, and care mistakes

In this segment, I want to discuss the dangers to your houseplant and what to do if a disease, pest infestation, or care mistakes!

Diseases of Alocasia zebrina

Alocasia zebrina is considered to be very robust when it comes to diseases. Therefore, in most cases, these are not a problem. If you discover a diseased leaf, you should remove it, so the infection does not spread further.

Pests of an Alocasia zebrina

The Alocasia is also very resistant to pests. Only mealybugs infest it from time to time. They like especially in the winter months when the air is drier. They want to sit at the leaf axils of the leaves.

You can recognize them by their bright wax-covered filaments, which they wear for protection.

If you discover a mealybug, it is essential to act quickly because it will not spare any part of your plant. If there is already a more significant infestation, I recommend using No products found..

Care mistakes of an Alocasia zebrina

Alocasia zebrina gets yellow leaves

If your Alocasia zebrina gets yellow leaves, this can have the following reasons:

  • Too little light: place your plant brighter
  • Lack of nutrients or old substrate: use fertilizer and renew the substrate
  • Too much water: keep the soil moist but not wet
  • Too little water: if the leaves dry up, in addition, the plant has too little water
  • Too cold location: In winter, the temperature should be between 63 °F – 70 °F. Otherwise between 66 °F – 77 °F
  • Draught: Alocasia zebrina does not tolerate draughts. Therefore, you should keep it from the doors.

Leaves droop, and petioles are limp

That is a sign that the houseplant has too little water available. The substrate should always be slightly moist, and the root ball should not dry out at any time.

Leaves get yellow-brown leaf edges

If your leaves get a yellow-brown edge, this is a sign of root rot. That occurs when the plant stands wet for a long time and water in the pot cannot drain off.

In this case, you should act immediately. Pot your Alocasia in a fresh substrate and make sure it has good drainage. In the future, you should water it a little less.

It is not a big deal if these edges are on the lower leaves, but the weakest leaves regularly die during growth.

Alocasia zebrina has brown leaf tips

In this case, the humidity is too low. Try to increase it with a humidifier or DIY methods. Another reason may be that it gets too much water.

Brown spots on the leaf

That is sunburn. It occurs when the leaves are exposed to direct sunlight for too long. Alocasia zebrina should be placed in a bright location but not in full sun.

Alocasia zebrina gets long, thin, and light stems

If your Alocasia zebrina gets long and thin stems, it is horny growth. That is an attempt to give the plant more light.

In short, your Alocasia is too dark, and you should move it to a brighter location.

I’ll answer your questions!

Why do the leaves of Alocasia zebrina drip?

Especially in the morning, the plant releases water through its leaf edges.
That is called guttation. The water is released to ensure the transport of nutrients into the leaves despite water saturation.
Because of the sugar and other minerals it contains, the dried drops often stick.

Why do the leaves of Alocasia zebrina die?

In winter, it is expected that sometimes the whole part of the plant dies over the substrate. However, in the spring, it sprouts again as usual.
Old leaves die during growth and are replaced by young leaves..

Is Alocasia zebrina poisonous?

The sap of Alocasia zebrina is poisonous. In humans, it irritates the mucous membrane and skin. When consumed, it causes nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. 
In pets such as cats and dogs, it can cause severe poisoning symptoms, such as stomach cramps, increased salivation, diarrhea, and vomiting. 
Alocasia zebrina should therefore be placed out of reach of children and pets. Gloves should be worn when handling the plant.

Take advantage of this!


Letzte Aktualisierung am 2023-03-24 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API

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About the author
Richard Schmidt
Hey, my name is Richard! In my spare time, I write about the care of indoor plants on this website. Indoor plants have long fascinated me. That's why there are many plants in my little urban jungle - from the mainstream Syngonium to true rarities. Besides my passion for houseplants, I'm a real sneakerhead.

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