Why Are My Zebra Plant Leaves Drooping?

The Zebra plant (Calathea Zebrina) is one of my favorite houseplants. But this indoor plant is challenging to grow and maintain. The zebra-like foliages are more vulnerable to drooping, curling, and fading for some reason.

So, why are my zebra plant leaves drooping? The possible causes are inappropriate lighting conditions, watering problems, temperature stress, lack of humidity, and over-fertilization. Other minor causes are pest infestation and plant diseases.

Keep reading this article to learn how to save a droopy zebra plant. The tips will also help you know how often to water zebra plants and prevent the leaves from drooping. Take the time to read from the start to the end.

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10 Reasons Why Zebra Plant Leaves Are Drooping

Inappropriate Lighting Condition

Zebra plant can cope with low lighting conditions since it grows under the canopy in their native habitat. But prolonged exposure to low light inhibits the plant from thriving. 

Drooping foliages occur due to intense sunlight. The plant droop leaves to reduce the rate of water loss. Besides that, direct exposure to sunlight will make the stems fall over and break. 

If your zebra plant leaves are drooping due to intense light, consider moving to a location that receives bright indirect sunlight. You’ll see the difference after some hours. 

Inconsistent Watering Habits

Dry soil will make the leaves droop and turn crispy. If the condition persists, the stems will become weak and eventually fall over. 

Water the houseplant twice a week a month during summer and once after two weeks in winter. Keeping the plant hydrated will help to prevent leaves from drooping and turning crisp.

Check the soil moisture content level before watering. The tactic will help to prevent issues related to overwatering in the long run. 

Overwatered Zebra Plant

Overwatering is the leading cause of death among many houseplants. The condition occurs due to poor soil drainage and frequent watering style. 

Zebra plant leaves turning yellow is usually the initial sign. If the soil condition persists, the leaves and stem will begin to droop. 

The progression of root rot makes the stem die and roots mushy. Salvaging a dying zebra plant due to root rot can be tricky. 

The best option is to unpot the plant and check any signs of root rot. The roots should not be mushy and give off a foul smell. 

Develop a watering schedule to avoid the phenomenon from happening. Be sure to use a potting mix with proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. 

If the root rot is not extreme, clip the affected roots and re-pot the houseplant. Remember to sterilize the pot and instrument used to cut the affected roots. 

Lack of Humidity

The Zebra plant is not a hardy houseplant. It cannot cope with challenges such as inadequate watering and low humidity. A combination of these two factors may make the plant succumb. 

Low humidity around the plant will result in leaves drooping. The issue is more prevalent due to the weather changes in the house. 

The best choice is to increase humidity to save the plant from drooping leaves. The condition also helps to clean the leaves and foster hydration. 

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Temperature Stress

Zebra plants are tropical plants that thrive in a warm and humid climate. These tropical plants flourish when the temperature is about 70-85oF. 

Any temperature below 60oF and above 90oF will stress the plant. You’ll notice the leaves drooping and stems falling over. 

We recommend keeping the houseplant away from drafts and heaters. It will help to prevent zebra plant leaves from drooping and curling. 

Pest Infestations

Severe insect infestations on the zebra plant will cause leaves to droop. Other primary symptoms of pest infestations are yellowing and curling of leaves. 

Time the time to inspect the plant to find evidence of pests. Spray the indoor plant with neem oil or horticulture soap to prevent insects from harming your plant. 

Keep in mind that zebra plants are more vulnerable to mealybugs and spider mites. Low humidity is responsible for the presence of spider mites. 

Identify the exact pest on the houseplant and establish an effective method of eradicating them. Be sure to commence treatment asap to prevent the insects from stressing your houseplant. 


Zebra plants are not heavy feeders. But these indoor plants need nutrients to thrive and produce beautiful foliages. Too much fertilizer may make the leaves droop. 

Be sure to apply fertilizer to the plant once during the growing season (summer and spring). Do not fertilize the plant in winter since the plants are dormant. 

Too much fertilizer around the roots is toxic. It draws water from the plant and inhibits the roots from carrying out their functions. 

We recommend re-potting the plant to fresh potting mix over flushing the existing soil. Provide ultimate zebra plant care to enhance better growth. 

Zebra Plant Diseases

Zebra plants are less susceptible to diseases. But bacterial and fungal leaf spots are super common on the indoor plant. These diseases may result in leaves drooping and turning yellow or brown. 

We recommend cutting the affected foliage from the petiole to inhibit the disease from spreading to other leaves. Remember to discard the leaves away and isolate the plant. 

Keep in mind that there is no cure for these diseases. The best option is to keep the indoor plant healthy to protect the leaves from drooping or curling. (Source: University of Florida).

Transplant Shock

Another possible cause of zebra plant leaves drooping is a shock after being re-potted. The relocation poses stress to the plant to result in the response. 

Frequent change of growing medium usually alters with the roots. You don’t need to re-pot zebra plant more often since it is less prone to root-bound issues. 

If you recently re-pot your zebra plant, it could be the reason why the leaves look droopy. Provide ultimate care to revive the plant. It will take several days to recover fully. 


Moving an indoor plant to a new location is always a big deal. Zebra plants don’t tolerate the transportation stress to a new place. 

The movement alters the roots to make the plant look droopy. Try to be patient with the houseplant and give it time to adapt to the new environment. 

Avoid changing the location of the plant more often since it will interfere with the acclimation period. Ensure the indoor growing conditions are favorable for the plant to thrive. 

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Final Word

If you find your zebra plant leaves drooping, check the growing condition and inspect other leaf-related symptoms. The examination will help to identify the cause and measures to consider.

Dealing with calathea zebrina leaves drooping is easy. Use the tips mentioned in the article to help in fixing the problem. Be sure to provide ultimate calathea zebrina care for better growth.