Aphelandra squarrosa
Common Name: zebra plant 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Acanthaceae
Native Range: Brazil
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen


Grow in St. Louis as a houseplant. Well-drained, peaty potting mixture. Plants need bright indirect light, but avoid direct sun. Consistent moisture year around. Soils must not be allowed to dry out. Does not require winter dormancy, but appreciates resting period with slightly reduced watering after flowering. Plants require high humidity and temperatures that do not dip below 65º F, which makes them somewhat difficult to grow in many St. Louis households. Grow in humidified rooms, place pots on a bed of wet pebbles or grow in bathrooms to try to meet the humidity needs. Regular temperatures in summer and minimum 65º F in winter. Cut plants back after flowering to control growth.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aphelandra squarrosa, commonly called zebra plant, is a compact shrub growing to 6’ tall in its native tropical habitat in Brazil. If can be grown in St. Louis as a much smaller houseplant. It is noted for is attractive foliage and spikes of yellow-bracted flowers. Zebra plant is in reference to its ovate to elliptic, dark green leaves with distinctive zebra-like white veins. Spikes of yellow-bracted flowers are long-lasting. It is typically pruned to 12-18” tall.

Genus name comes from the Greek words apheles meaning simple and aner or andros meaning male because the anthers are one-celled.


Watch for aphids, white fly or scale. Crown rot and leaf spots may occur. Foliage may scorch in dry or drafty locations.


Houseplant for bright, humid areas.