Here’s a plant with both an exciting common and latin name! The Zebra Plant is so-called for it’s striped foliage, and in Latin it’s known as Aphelandra, a word that trips off the tongue beautifully!
In it’s native habitat, Aphelandra can become a huge, sprawling shrub, almost like the Yellow Hydrangea of the rainforest! In the home, plants stay much smaller and easier to find a space for, looking particularly handsome on a shelf or sideboard. The foliage is exciting and shiny, and the later flowers appear in banana yellow.
The flowers you see are actually bracts (coloured leaves), with the true flowers being held just inside those bracts, and which last just a few days. The yellow bracts stay in good condition for many months. It’s like magic!
A rainforest plant from Brazil, the Zebra Plant enjoys a well-lit, humid environment in the home. With many of these more tropical-appearing houseplants, humidity is the key. Achieve this by setting your plant on a tray of pebbles, which encourages a humid atmosphere. Avoid drafts too!
The Aphelandra Latin comes from apheles meaning simple and andros meaning male, as the anthers are single-celled.
You’ll be pleased to know that your Zebra Plant isn’t too stressed out by a cold english winter. Allow plants to fall into their winter dormancy, and reduce all watering. After blooming, cut back your plants to allow new growth to come through!
You may experience leaf drop on your plants from time to time. This could be because your plant is too dry or is subjected to a draft. Browning leaves can be due to low humidity, either give them a spritz or install that tray of pebbles beneath your plant!