Zebra herb: caring for it properly

Zebra herb: caring for it properly


The zebra herb (botanical Tradescantia zebrina) is also known under the name Dreimasterblume or under the Germanized generic name Tradeskantie, which is actually an over-generalization. After all, it is just one of many three-masted flowers (Tradescantia). The reason for this over-generalization is that it is the most popular of all its generic members with ornamental gardeners. This is not only due to its high decorative value, but also to its easy-care character.

also read

  • Is the zebra herb poisonous?
  • This is how it works with the zebra herb with the care
  • Tradescantia zebrina (zebra herb) - tips for care

The zebra herb originally comes from Central and South America, primarily from Mexico and Guatemala, but it can also be found further south as far as Panama and the Caribbean islands. There it mainly populates the tropical forest areas in rather lower parts of the country. So it is used to a warm, humid climate and rather semi-shady light conditions, so that it can only feel comfortable with us as a houseplant all year round.

To note:

  • Zebra herb the most popular representative of the three-masted flowers
  • High leaf jewelry value
  • Comes from tropical forest areas in Central and South America
  • In this country can only be cultivated in the room all year round


The zebra herb is a slightly succulent perennial with typically long, creeping to hanging shoots. Because of you, the plant is a prime candidate for the hanging basket. Thanks to the pretty striped structure and the dark, red-violet undersides of the leaves, it creates a very decorative image. Another argument in favor of the hanging basket is that the succulent, segmented shoots do not break off easily when hanging if you walk past them.

In soil cultivation, the shoots form a dense plant mat through their own sinkers. They are therefore also suitable, for example, as underplanting larger conservatory plants in the tub.

Growth characteristics in brief:

  • Slightly succulent perennial with long, creeping or hanging shoots
  • Very suitable for the hanging traffic light
  • Striped leaf structure
  • Forms a plant mat by lowering it, which means it can also be used as a ground cover


The long hanging or creeping shoots start without a sipe and have an oval, tapering shape of 4 to 10 centimeters in length. Their surface is slightly hairy, the underside smooth. The name for the zebra herb is the decorative vertical stripe structure on the upper side of the leaves, which shows itself in elegant silver-white and bluish green. The undersides stand out in dark purple. Some varieties also show a rather purple stripe color on the green background.

Blade properties at a glance:

  • The leaves are sessile, oval and tapering to a point
  • 4 to 10 cm long
  • Hairy surface, smooth underside
  • Silver-white-dark green or purple-green vertical stripe structure
  • Underside in dark purple


If you keep a zebra herb in room culture in this country, you shouldn't hope too much for flowers. This is because they only develop under conditions that are very similar in origin. If you can offer the perennial such proportions, it may thank you with small but quite pretty pink flowers with three petals. They can appear all year round.

Flowers at a glance:

  • Seldom trained in room culture
  • Small, three-leaved structure
  • Color pink
  • Appear all year round


The small capsule fruits are of course just as seldom developed in indoor culture.

Which location is suitable?

Like so many indoor plants from the tropics, the zebra herb needs a bright, but not full sun, location. A window seat with slight shading from neighboring plants or a light curtain is best. A little gentle morning or evening sun does not harm the plant. In general, the following applies: the more colorful the variety, the lighter it should be, the greener the variety, the more shady its pitch can be.

Practical for the plant lover: Like him, the zebra herb feels most comfortable even at normal to warm room temperatures. 20 to 24 ° C are ideal. In winter a slight decrease in temperature is required. A suitable wintering area is a window seat in an unheated stairwell, where the temperature is around 12 to 15 ° C.

In summer, you can also hang / hang your zebra herb outside for a certain period of time if the temperature does not deviate too much from the usual room temperature. Again, you should protect it from direct sun.

Location requirements in brief:

  • Typical tropical location preferences: bright, but shady
  • Warm room temperature of 20 to 24 ° C
  • A little cooler in winter, around 12 to 15 ° C

What soil does the plant need?

The zebra herb makes no exceptional demands on its substrate. You can use normal potting soil. As an alternative - especially for frequent travelers - there is also hydroponics.

Pour zebra herb

The zebra herb is used to tropical conditions - so make sure that its root ball is always well moistened. Nevertheless, waterlogging should be avoided as much as possible, because the roots can easily rot. If the root ball dries out completely, it usually does not matter, if it is more frequent drought, the zebra herb complains in the form of brownish dried out leaf edges. Like many tropical plants, the zebra herb welcomes one or the other lukewarm spray from the water disperser. Use soft water that is as low in lime as possible for this as well as for watering.

During the wintering phase, limit the watering so that the soil does not dry out completely.

Casting practice at a glance:

  • Watering according to tropical circumstances: keep the root ball continuously moist
  • Do not pour over or let dry out frequently
  • Spray from time to time
  • Use water that is as soft and low in lime as possible
  • Water sparingly in winter quarters

Fertilize zebra herb properly

The zebra herb does not have a particularly high nutritional requirement. Fertilization is advisable from the second year of cultivation or after repotting. Either use commercially available green plant fertilizer, which you add to the irrigation water, or use fertilizer sticks. (€ 1.45 at Amazon *) You do not need to fertilize more often than every 4 weeks during the growing season. In winter you do without it completely.

To note:

  • The nutritional requirements of the zebra herb are moderate
  • Fertilize only from the second year of cultivation or after repotting
  • Use liquid green plant fertilizer or fertilizer sticks
  • Only fertilize about every 4 weeks throughout the growing season

Cut zebra herb properly

The lower leaves on the long shoots are shed with advancing age, so that the zebra herb soon becomes bald. That no longer looks nice. To encourage fresh shoots and more compact growth, you can prune such shoots far back in spring. Since the zebra herb is fast-growing, the sadly reduced sight does not last too long.

Propagate zebra herb

A zebra herb plant can be propagated quite easily using the cuttings method. It is also a recommended alternative to radical pruning of bald specimens. The best way to do this is to cut off a healthy shoot in late spring and place it in a water glass. Roots can then form from the shoot nodes after just 24 hours. You then only need to place the rooted shoot in a growing pot with potting soil and keep it regularly moist.

Alternatively, you can stick the cuttings into a moist substrate made of peat and sand. Because it roots so quickly, this variant of the zebra herb is no more complex than water rooting. After about 2 to 3 weeks, the young plants can be transplanted into pots with normal potting soil and cultivated further.

Multiplication at a glance:

  • Zebra herb can be easily propagated using the cuttings method
  • Cuttings take root quickly
  • Either in a moist peat-sand substrate or in a water glass

Diseases / pests

The zebra herb is not particularly susceptible to diseases or pests. Occasionally it can be attacked by aphids. These parasites sting the leaves of their host plants and suck their sap. Like scale insects, they also excrete sticky honeydew from which you can recognize the infestation immediately. If this deposit is not counteracted in good time, sooty mildew can also colonize it. Aphids can multiply explosively, especially in warm, dry environments. Therefore, pay attention to regular watering and occasional overspray as a preventive measure.

Aphids are best combated mechanically first, by rinsing them off the plant with water. It is best to cut out severely damaged shoots. If the infestation has progressed and / or is more persistent, you can also use a preparation based on neem oil.

Is zebra herb poisonous?

The zebra herb is not poisonous - so pet owners and parents don't have to do without the charming hanging shrub.

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To prevent sparse growth prematurely, it is advisable to break out the shoot tips regularly.


The zebra herb is available in several different cultivars, which are particularly varied in the color and structure of the leaves. In addition to single-striped variants, there are also multiple-striped variants, with the colors there are one or the other slightly different shade and sometimes more silver-white, sometimes more purple. Almost completely green varieties are also available. Here you can choose according to your personal inclination and creative combination aspects.

Tradescantia zebrina 'Purpusii'

As the name of the variety suggests, the color of the leaves is concentrated here on the violet parts, which turn into pink here. There are no stripes in silver-white here. The underside appears in a bright, reddish purple. Overall, the leaves are slightly larger than those of the other varieties. The flowers, when they are formed, are white with a pink sheen.

Tradescantia zebrina 'Quadricolor'

Here, too, the name says it all: four-colored and irregularly striped in purple, cream-white, green and silver-white, this zebra herb variety is a particularly attractive eye-catcher. So that the beautiful play of colors is well expressed, you should place this variety as light as possible or hang it.

Tradescantia zebrina 'Discolor'

This variety shows a very variable striped structure with green, creamy white and pearly shimmering pink. It may appeal to all those who enjoy the disorderly play of colors in their plant oasis.