Afelandra or Zebra Plant: [Care, Planting, Irrigation and Substrate]

The species called  Afelandra or Aphelandra squarrosa  (also known as the zebra plant) it belongs to the family of the Acanthaceae and comes from the warm regions of America. In Brazil, most of the little more than 200 varieties of Afelandra identified are located.

It usually gives us fabulous decorated effects indoors , thanks to some unique bracts and / or really beautiful yellow floral inflorescences.

Although it is a plant that does not exceed 80 cm in height, its leaves are large, very green and with white streaks or thick creams that stand out. The stem is woody and herbaceous at the end.


  1. Temperature : Temperatures of 60-75ºF (15-23ºC) are ideal and not lower than 55ºF (13ºC).
  2. Light : Bright light without direct sunlight is preferable during summer .
  3. Watering : It is important to keep the soil moist to the touch, and not over water or too dry. It is advisable to use soft and warm water (not hard water).
  4. Soil: Most multipurpose or peat-based potting mixes are suitable for use.
  5. Replantation : Replant it in spring every year. Only use a pot one size larger if the plant has grown into a pot (too much).
  6. Compost : Feed a balanced fertilizer once every two weeks during spring and summer.
  7. Humidity : Affelandras like a little more humidity than many other plants of 60% – 70%. You may have to artificially raise the humidity levels in a room.
  8. Pruning : When the flowers begin to die, remove them. Also prune the stem and leaves down so that only two rows of leaves are left tall, once the bract begins to die. This can help prevent the plant from shedding leaves (which most do), while giving the afelandra a chance to grow the following year.

Temperature: Where to plant Afelandra?

It needs to be grown in high temperatures. She likes heat so much that if you have it near the heating radiators at home, it is much better for her. Will be happy.

Make sure that throughout the year it is kept in an environment with temperatures that are not higher or lower than the 22 to 29 ° C range.

Protecting it from air blizzards in winter is essential.


Light: How much do you need?

It is not possible to expose it to direct sunlight.

It is a very resistant plant but it does not react well to sunlight, because outdoors it is located under large trees that help it receive indirect light.

Locate the pot of your Afelandra in an area or illuminated area of ​​your house.

Substrate and Compost: How do we prepare the soil for the afelandra?

It is necessary to provide this plant of tropical origin with a substrate composed of equal parts of peat, topsoil and sand, together with a blanket of leaves that covers the upper part of this mixture.

A good liquid fertilizer for green plants, or one that is added to irrigation water, will also help it to develop fully. Do it twice a week in summer.

It is the ideal time to give him this nutritious gift.

It is very important that when new flowers and leaves appear, you can add a drop of fertilizer when it comes time to water it. In this way you will be able to strengthen it.

In autumn, reduce watering and use warm water. Keep giving it the most natural light and provide it with a temperature of 18 ° C.

If you don’t, the plant will most likely stop producing flowers, weaken, and die. Therefore, in winter only plant it if you can provide it with a temperature of 24 ° C. Protect it from drafts.


Irrigation: How often and how?

Irrigation has, broadly speaking, the following rule: abundant in summer and scarce in winter .

In the autumn, irrigation is also reduced and warm water is used, a good amount of indirect light, in an environment that does not exceed 18 ° C, so that it does not weaken and can produce more flowers and beautiful leaves.

Its leaves should also be sprayed on a regular basis to reproduce an ideal humidity level.

Especially do it if the temperature in summer exceeds 29 ° C, because although the Afelandra is from a warm to temperate climate, it is also true that where the humidity comes from is high and it can be exhausted and lose the splendor of its leaves.

Finally, you should know that if the leaves fall, the safest thing is that it does not receive enough water, natural light or that it faces adverse temperatures for its growth.

If you pay attention to these indicators, surely this plant will continue to provide you with a spectacular color contrast for a long time, in a special room in your home.


Pruning the zebra plant

Keep an eye on your flower bracts.

When the flowers die, it is important to remove them quickly. If left in place too long, the lower leaves can start to fall off. This will leave behind only the stems with tufts of leaves on top.

You can prune the stem and leaves once the bract dies to a couple of leaves at the base of the plant. This will encourage a busier growth pattern in the spring.

Is the afelandra toxic?

The zebra plant is not toxic , but it can be irritating to the skin. It is best to prune with gloves to prevent the sap from reaching the skin. Wash and sterilize your pruning shears to remove any remaining sap once done.

The ASPCA says it is not toxic to cats, dogs, or horses. Still, put your aphelandra out of their reach. It can irritate their mouth or paws. Prevention is better than cure!


Pests and diseases of the afelandra or zebra plant

White fly

The whitefly is a possible enemy of the afelandra. These tiny flying insects will suck the sap from the plant, leaving yellow dots on the leaves.

To combat them, it is convenient to eliminate and destroy the growth of the plants. Use yellow sticky traps to catch larger specimens. An insecticidal soap will also help.


Insecticidal soaps also work wonders against aphids. These pests, commonly called aphids, will also suck on the leaves of the afelandra.

Again, remove the infected leaves as needed.

White mealybugs

Fluffy white mealybugs can also be a problem.

These cling to leaves, and can cause damage similar to whiteflies. A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol can help you remove them. Prevent them from coming back by spraying the leaves of your plant with neem oil .

Fungus gnats

Finally, although less common, fungus gnats find moist, cloudy soil attractive. Sticky traps trap adult specimens.

A soil soaked with neem oil can help eliminate the larvae.

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