Why Do My Zebra Plant Leaves Falling Off? [8 Causes With Solution] 

Last year, I was disappointed after seeing my zebra plant leaves falling off. Then, I researched the reasons and found that the problem was happening due to underwatering, overwatering, over-fertilization, nutrient deficiency, soil problems, excessive humidity,  extreme temperature, and inadequate light.

I searched a lot for remedies for this problem and found some. Among them, I applied some particular solutions together and found a great result. The leaves stopped falling leaves and started to grow new plants.

I mentioned those solutions in this article and if you want, you can apply them to your plant. Here is a table for having the solutions shortly at a glance.




Water your plant when 25% of the soil gets dry


Don’t water if the soil moisture is high


Fertilize once or twice a year after winter

Nutrient deficiency 

Apply liquid fertilizers full of macro and micronutrients 

Soil problem

Use a soil mixture of sandy loam soil, coco-peat, and sphagnum moss

Excessive humidity 

Humidity should be between 60-70%

Extreme temperature 

The optimum temperature range is 55-60°F

Inadequate light

Indirect light or partial shade

8 Causes of Zebra Plant Leaves Falling Off With Their Perfect Solutions 

1. Underwatering 

One of the most crucial reasons for zebra plant leaves falling off is underwatering as I experienced in my plant. Though they are drought-tolerant, you need to provide the actual amount of water that they require. 

In the case of less watering, they cannot properly continue their metabolic activities. Along with that, their physiological processes are also hampered. Due to the absence of water, their photosynthesis process is hindered and so they cannot make enough food for their growth and development. As a result, the plant leaves fall.

Control Measures 

Zebra plants need watering when almost 25% of the soil gets dry. If you find the soil dry, provide enough water to the plant with a watering hose or watering can. Never let your plant remain in a completely dry situation. 

Watering necessity differs from summer to winter. Be careful of the weather and season for perfect watering.

2. Overwatering 

The next one is overwatering which can also make the leaves fall. Same as underwatering, overwatering may also cause problems for the physical activities of the plant. Too much watering creates a root rot problem.

When the root system is damaged, the plant cannot uptake nutrients and other necessary elements from the plant. Such a situation pushes the plant to disorganized growth and leaves to fall. It may even lead the plant to death.

Control Measures 

Check the soil moisture before watering your plant. You can pinch your finger inside the soil to understand if the plant needs water or not. Else, you can also use a moisture meter to check the soil moisture. (Our Pick: XLUX Soil Moisture Meter)

If the soil is saturated with water, don’t water it more. Otherwise, it can be also affected by different insects and pathogens.

3. Over-fertilization 

The third one I am going to elaborate on is over-fertilization. Fertilizers are important for the plant. But too much fertilization can cause great harm to the plant. 

When you apply too many fertilizers to the plant, excessive fertilizers burn the plant root. Sometimes it is not absorbed by the plant. At that moment, it remains mixed in the soil and increases soil toxicity. Thus, the plant loses its viability for growth.

Control Measures

Apply proper fertilizer dose to the plant. Zebra plants do not need many fertilizers. It is better to provide fertilizer once in summer and once after winter. Avoid using fertilizers directly to the root zone as it may burn the root. 

4. Nutrient Deficiency

Further, I would like to talk about nutrient deficiency problems. When the plant is in the growth stage, it needs fertilizer. But, if it cannot get enough nutrients, the plant won’t grow. 

Sometimes, the soil cannot provide enough nutrients to the plant. On the other hand, sometimes plants cannot uptake enough nutrients from the soil. Whatever it is, the plant may become pale and leaves start to fall due to this problem. 

Control Measures

Apply fertilizer to your plant during its growth period and after that once or twice a year in spring. Liquid fertilizers are slow-releasing and are more absorbable for the plant. 

Try to use such fertilizers which are full of enough macro and micronutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, etc. You can dilute the fertilizers with water and apply them while watering.(our pick: Espoma Organic 8 Ounce Concentrated Indoor Plant Food)

5. Soil Problem

After that, let’s discuss the soil problem. Any type of soil is not always suitable for the zebra plant. Again, excessively acidic soil is detrimental to the zebra plant.

If the soil pH is too high or too low, the plant cannot adjust to that. As the soil characteristics and texture is more important for the plant, inappropriate soil constituents make the plant weak and leaves start to fall for this reason.

Control Measures

Use sandy loam soil for planting zebra plants. The soil should be well-drained so that water cannot stay there. At the same time, the soil should contain enough nutrients. Soil pH should be neutral to slightly acidic.

6. Excessive Humidity 

Then, one more problem that can silently make your leaves drop out is excessive humidity. The humidity level is an important issue for the plant. It is related to the soil and the environment. 

Too much humidity increases disease susceptibility due to pathogen attacks. Aeration also gets poor if the soil moisture is high which hinders the absorption of aerial constituents. As a result, plants become weak and sometimes start to wilt which causes leaves to drop.

Control Measures

Check the humidity level of the plant environment and soil regularly. If the humidity is too low, you can increase it with a humidifier. On the other hand, if the humidity is too high, stop watering your plant. 

If the soil gets contaminated due to high moisture, you can complete the repotting process by planting in another pot and uprooting from the existing one. It will provide extra strength to your plant for new growth. 

7. Extreme Temperature 

Like other elements, temperature issue is also an important fact for a zebra plant. If the temperature goes too high, it becomes detrimental for a plant as the excessive temperature causes much transpiration. 

Again, excessive transpiration causes the death of cells and tissues as the cell sap becomes dry. Consequently, the leaves fall off and photosynthesis becomes too low. Sometimes, it even causes the death of the plant. 

Control Measures

The optimum temperature for a zebra plant ranges between 55-60°F.  Try to maintain this temperature in the plant surroundings. Water properly your plant in the summer as the temperature remains high at that time.

Besides, you can try sprinkling water in the leaves when the heat is too much. It will save the cells from drying and death. 

8. Inadequate Light

Finally, I would like to describe the light problem. Though I am describing it in the last phase, don’t take it as less important. The light problems also can cause plant death if it is not handled seriously. 

If the light is too high or too low, the plant may lose its color. Again, in the absence of enough light, the plant cannot continue its physiological processes like respiration, transpiration and most importantly, photosynthesis. As a result, the plant loses its vigorous growth and establishment.

Control Measures

Zebra plants like indirect light to partial shade. But don’t provide too much shade to the plant. The morning’s indirect and bright light is beneficial for their beautiful look and enough growth.

Caring for a Zebra Plant at a Glance 


Sandy loam soil with neutral or slightly acidic pH


A warm and humid climate


Indirect but bright light or partial shade




When 25% of the soil is dry




Not mandatory. May be needed for root rot or root bound problem


Can a zebra plant grow without water?

Not really! Zebra plants are drought-resistant and they can survive for a few days with little water. But they cannot complete their life cycle without water or a poor amount of water like a xerophytic plant.

Is a zebra plant an indoor plant?

Yeah! Zebra plants are normally nurtured as indoor plants. You can also keep them outside but in that case, you have to control the temperature, sunlight, and other elements. 

How much can a healthy zebra plant grow?

A healthy zebra plant can grow almost 1 meter or 3 feet. It is to be noted that this plant is a slow-growing plant. That’s why it can be kept in the room corners or table corners.

How do zebra plants propagate?

Zebra plants can be propagated by stem cutting. Cut a stem from a healthy and disease-free zebra plant. Then, prepare a soil mixture with sandy loam soil, coco-peat and sphagnum moss and plant the cutting in there.

Final Thoughts

Finally, let me end here as I have included almost all the facts about zebra plant leaves falling off. The problems that I mentioned here were severe for my zebra plant and it was not easy for me to save my plant. But fortunately, the solutions worked.

If you are also going through such problems, you are welcome to pick up the recommended solutions if you want. But I can assure you that, in the case of proper maintenance, these problems can be solved and you may get a perfect and healthy plant.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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