Zebra plant isn’t exactly a succulent (though we have one succulent that’s nicknamed Zebra as well, the haworthia fasciata). But since I grow few Zebra plants in my house, and had problems with drooping leaves, I decided to cover this topic. Before anything else, let me tell you that growers need to pay a price to enjoy a beauty of Zebra plant at home. Zebra plant is relatively fragile, and unless you grow it in fitting conditions, it will have some issues. One of the most common issues is drooping of leaves, and in this post we will look at three main causes and how you can address them.
Before we dive into details, let me give you a quick answer: The three main causes of your Zebra Plant leaves dropping are low humidity, under-watering of the plant, and lack of nutrients in the soil. I will analyze each of these causes in a second, but I want to make sure you understand one thing: Zebra plant needs care, and regular attention. It is native to tropical habitat in Brazil, and such conditions are really hard to replicate in any house or flat (outside of tropical areas). If you are are looking for plants that do not need much attention and can survive or even thrive in relative neglect, Zebra plant isn’t your candidate… You should opt for succulents instead.
Zebra plant leaves will droop in any humidity level below 60%
In my experience, the no. 1 reason of drooping leaves with Zebra plant is low humidity of the growing environment. Zebra plant thrives in humid areas, and unless you grow it in humidity of 60%-70%, or even more, the leaves will lose their spark and start to droop. Imagine a typical tropical environment of Brazil, in a rain forest of close to it. It rains pretty often, and though the trees catch 95% of all rain, some drops always fall on the plants on the ground, such as Zebra plant, keeping their leaves moist or vet almost all the time. That’s what the plant is used to and likes, and unless you somehow replicate it, you’re not going to see the desired results.
Luckily I have one remedy for you, should you leave in an area with lower humidity: Place your Zebra plant in the bathroom, the area of the house which has the highest humidity. If you have kids of live in a house with many people, simply in an environment where someone takes shower almost all the time (not good for bills but perhaps good for plants), the humidity in the bathroom area will easily stay on the desired level, for most of the day. Some drops will also occasionally fall on the plant, and the environment will feel almost natural to it.
Of course, if you’re retired and spend most of your time at home, you can just mist the plant regularly, like every few hours, making sure there is always some moisture on the leaves and the plant feels good at your home. Placing a Zebra Plant to a green house is another idea (since the humidity is always higher), but of course this is an option only if you live in a warm area and have a greenhouse :).
Under-watering is another common cause of Zebra plant leaves drooping
One thing I love about plants is that as long as we watch them carefully, they will tell us how they feel, and what they need. Besides other reasons, leaves drooping (of any plant) signifies that the plant is thirsty, and needs water. With a Zebra Plant, under-watering is much more common then over-watering. As I said again, the plant is native to tropical regions. It doesn’t like to be drown in water (that’s why you should always use a pot with a drainage hole and empty the saucer after watering the plant), but it likes to be soaked pretty regularly (just like in a rain forest), taking a bit of water it needs.
Check the moisture of the top layer of the soil. If it is dry, and if it is the case often, the leaves droop because the plant needs water more regularly. Luckily enough the remedy is quite simple here. You just need to adjust your watering schedule, and simply soak your Zebra plant with water more often. But I do not want to give you any exact schedule. The soil moisture should be your guide here. It may be enough watering your plant once in ten days, but in some cases and climates you may need to water it two times a week. So make sure to check the moisture of the soil, as well as signs your plant gives you (such as drooping of leaves), and water accordingly.
Lack of nutrients in the soil as the no. 3 main cause for the leaves of your Zebra Plant drooping
As I’ve said a couple of times already, Zebra plant is native to tropical areas of Brazil. One of the characteristics of such areas is the soil super high in certain nutrients. Similar soil is hard to get in any shop, and you cannot easily replicate it even if you try to make your own soil mix at home. For this reason, Zebra plant needs regular fertilizing, ideally with a liquid fertilizer fitting for this type of a plant. You can find such products on Amazon for example.
When you do not fertilize your Zebra plant, it will quickly experience a lack of nutrients it is genetically preconditioned to need, and it will suffer in one way or another. Drooping of leaves is often the first sign of the problem. If you leave it untreated, however, the plant may simply wilt away and die. To make things clear, I am not a big fan of fertilizing plants (maybe that’s why I prefer succulents, plants that need little to no fertilization), but with some delicate plants like Zebra you do not have other options. If you do not fertilize it, you will never see it in full beauty, and it will often eventually die…
Zebra Plant isn’t an easy plant to grow, and you may experience many problems with it. Drooping of leaves isn’t the worst case scenario though. As you know now, low humidity, under-watering, and lack of nutrients in the soil are three main reasons why the laves may start bending or hanging downwards. I hope that I shed some light on possible remedies, and that you will revive your drooping plant. Good luck!
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