Cryptanthus zonatus, commonly known as the Zebra plant or Pheasant plant, is a bromeliad species native to Brazil. Most Cryptanthus are epiphytes, but some are terrestrials, and this is one of them. The leaves are green or brown with white bands that look like stripes on a zebra’s skin. Its unique features make it an excellent addition to any garden, providing much-needed variety in a sea of greens.
It is most often grown indoors but can be used outdoors in shade or semi-shade where it will not receive too much direct sunlight. If you are looking for an unusual houseplant that requires very little care, then this may be just what you need!
Cryptanthus Zonatus Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Crypanthus, Earth’s Stars, Pheasant Plant, Star Fish Plant, Zebra Plant|
|Botanical Name||Cryptanthus zonatus|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||10b to 12a|
|Mature Size||Height: 6-12 inches; Spread: 12-16 inches|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by offsets|
|Sun||Part shade, Filtered sunlight|
Cryptanthus Zonatus Care
This evergreen perennial grows to produce rosettes of leaves. The leaves are strap-like, 2-6 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, with a wavy margin and prominent white veins. The flowers usually bloom in summer. They are tiny and white, blooming in irregular clumps. Caring for this plant is easy as these are generally considered low maintenance. Here are some tips for getting started.
Light and Location
Pheasant plants prefer bright, indirect light; they can’t tolerate harsh, direct sunlight for extended periods as the leaves tend to get sunburnt. Although they can grow in deep shade, they will be less vigorous.
It prefers moist soil watered moderately but regularly. However, the potting mixture should never remain soggy for extended periods because this will cause root rot. Good drainage should be the primary focus when caring for one of these plants.
They don’t like temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). At the same time, they do not grow well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). The optimal range is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-23 degrees Celsius). And keep them safe from drafts.
This plant requires moderate to high humidity levels to thrive. As such, it is best grown in a pot that can be placed on a tray of water so that the humidity levels remain high. Misting regularly can also work wonders in keeping the growth bursting with color.
You should fertilize this plant once a month year-round. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer for the best results.
Propagating Cryptanthus Zonatus
To propagate by division, carefully remove the offset (pup) from its parent plant and plant in a fresh pot with the appropriate potting mix. Make sure the offset is at least a third the size of the mother before proceeding. Tamp down the compost slightly and water well.
To propagate by seed, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. Plant the seeds immediately after they’ve become ripe. Overripe seeds rarely germinate. Use in a soil mix that is light and well-drained. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and water well. Place the pot in a warm, sunny location at 27°C and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Note that the seeds will take years to mature, whereas the offsets mature in a few months.
Potting and Repotting Pheasant Plant
It typically grows in pots and requires moist soil. An ideal potting mixture for these plants would be one that drains exceptionally well, so the roots are never soggy or waterlogged. Peat, perlite, and clay tend to remain moist but well-drained when mixed into a potting mix. Drill holes in whichever type of pot you end up choosing; terra cotta pots are an excellent choice.
Cryptanthus zonatus should be repotted when it becomes root-bound. This plant can generally grow to fill a pot within a few years, so check the roots every year or two to determine if repotting is necessary. Gently ease out the root ball from the pot when you decide it’s time. Be very gentle as these roots are usually small and spindly, prone to breaking. Place the root ball in the new (slightly larger) container and water well.
Cryptanthus zonatus are non-toxic. They are safe to be around. You can place these plants in your home or office without worry, as they won’t cause any harm!
Cryptanthus zonatus is rarely affected by pests. But sometimes, mealybugs and scale insects can become a problem. Just to be safe, check the crevices in between the leaves for any signs of these pests. If found, a standard insecticide should do the trick.
Pheasant Plant Care Tips: How to Keep Your Pheasant Plants Alive and Healthy (Video)
“File:Cryptanthus zonatus fusca.jpg” by Dinkum is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
“Bromelia híbrida (Cryptanthus zonatus)” by Alejandro Bayer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“File:Estrella de tierra (Cryptanthus zonatus) – Flickr – Alejandro Bayer (1).jpg” by Alejandro Bayer Tamayo from Armenia, Colombia is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0