Can I Propagate My Zebra Plant in Water?

Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) is an eye-catching tropical plant, appropriately named for the vivid, contrasting stripes on the large, dark green leaves. Although zebra plant isn't finicky, it won't tolerate neglect and requires adequate sunlight, water and fertilizer in order to thrive. If conditions are exactly right, zebra plant may surprise you with bright orange flowers. One easy way to propagate zebra plant is to root a healthy leaf in a jar of water.


To propagate a zebra plant, fill a jar or glass with water. If the jar or glass has been used, scrub it thoroughly with hot, soapy water, then rinse to remove all traces of soap.

Cut a Stem

Use a sharp, sterile knife to cut a healthy leaf and stem from a mature zebra plant. To sterilize the knife, wipe the blade with rubbing alcohol or use a bleach solution consisting of 1 part household bleach mixed with 9 parts water. Sterilizing the cutting tool prevents transmission of bacteria to the cutting.

Root the Stem

Pull any leaves from the lower part of the stem. Place a piece of wire mesh over the top of the glass or jar, then secure the wire mesh with a rubber band. Insert the zebra stem cutting through the mesh to hold the leaf above the water. Any leaves allowed to touch the water may cause the zebra stem cutting to rot.

Care for the Stem

Place the glass or jar near a sunny window. Avoid placing the cutting directly in front of a window, as the glass is often too hot during the day and too cold at night. Check the stem daily and add water as often as needed to maintain the same water level. Watch for the zebra cuttings to develop roots in a few days.

Planting the Stem

Plant the zebra stem when it displays several healthy roots about an inch long. Use a 3-inch plastic container filled with any general purpose commercial potting soil, then plant the stem up to about half of its total length with the leaf above and not touching the soil. Use a container with a drainage hole; otherwise the cutting may quickly rot.

General Care

Locate your new zebra plant in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep the soil slightly moist. Water the soil at the base of the plant and avoid wetting the foliage, as wet foliage is susceptible to fungal disease. Fertilize the zebra plant every month, using an all-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.

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