Why Is My Calathea Zebrina Drooping? Causes and Solutions

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Calathea zebrina, also known as the zebra plant, is a popular houseplant known for its striking foliage and unique patterns. Despite its tropical origins, it can thrive indoors under the right conditions. However, one common issue that many plant enthusiasts encounter is the drooping of Calathea zebrina leaves.

In this article, we will explore the possible causes behind the drooping of your Calathea zebrina and provide guidance on how to address these issues. By understanding the needs of your plant and making the necessary adjustments, you can help your Calathea zebrina thrive and maintain its distinct, eye-catching appearance.

Understanding Calathea Zebrina

The Calathea Zebrina, also known as the zebra plant, is a popular houseplant due to its eye-catching foliage and unique appearance. Its ovate leaves on slender stalks have a velvety texture and exhibit patterns in shades of green that resemble zebra stripes. The plant’s leaves also feature purple undersides, further adding to its visual appeal (Evergreen Seeds).

This tropical plant requires specific care conditions to thrive indoors. Calathea Zebrina is sensitive to temperature changes and draughts, which can lead to drooping leaves if not addressed (Plantophiles). To keep your Calathea Zebrina healthy, it’s essential to provide the right care, including:

  • Temperature: Maintain a consistent room temperature between 65-75°F (18-24°C).
  • Humidity: Keep the air around the plant humid, as dry air can trigger drooping leaves.
  • Light: Provide bright, indirect light to prevent scorching the leaves.
  • Water: Ensure proper watering by allowing the soil to dry out halfway before watering again.

Water stress, such as overwatering or underwatering, can cause Calathea Zebrina leaves to droop. Overwatering suffocates the roots by eliminating air pockets in the soil, preventing them from absorbing enough oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to root rot and the plant’s inability to soak up water, causing the leaves to droop (Bloomsprouts). It is crucial to monitor the soil’s moisture level and adjust the watering frequency based on the plant’s environmental conditions, such as light and heat exposure (Garden Superior).

Common Causes of Drooping

Improper Watering

One major reason for a drooping Calathea Zebrina is improper watering. Both overwatering and underwatering can lead to drooping leaves. Overwatering eliminates air pockets in the soil, preventing the roots from absorbing oxygen and eventually causing root rot (source). On the other hand, if the soil gets too dry between watering, the plant’s leaves may also start drooping (source).

Incorrect Lighting

Another cause for drooping Calathea Zebrina leaves is exposure to incorrect lighting conditions. These plants thrive in bright, indirect light, but direct sunlight may cause scorching or curling of the leaves. If your Calathea Zebrina is placed in an area with insufficient lighting, its leaves might start to droop as it struggles to grow (source).

Poor Soil Quality

Poor soil quality may contribute to a drooping Calathea Zebrina. These plants need well-draining, fertile soil that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged. It’s crucial to use a high-quality potting mix and ensure that the plant gets enough nutrients, as nutrient deficiencies may lead to drooping leaves and poor overall growth (source).

Temperature and Humidity Issues

The optimal temperature for a Calathea Zebrina is between 65-85°F (18-29°C). Too low or too high temperatures can cause the leaves to droop. Similarly, low humidity levels may result in curling and drooping leaves. Calatheas thrive in a humidity range of 50-80%, so maintaining the right humidity levels can significantly benefit their growth and prevent drooping leaves (source).

How to Revive a Drooping Calathea Zebrina

In this section, we’ll discuss various ways to help your Calathea Zebrina bounce back to life. By following these tips, you can properly care for your drooping plant and see it thrive again.

Adjusting Watering Habits

One of the primary causes of drooping leaves is improper watering. To address this, allow the soil to dry out halfway down before watering again. Adjust your watering schedule based on the light and heat your plant receives, as well as the humidity of the room. In brighter environments, water a little more, and in lower-light environments, water less frequently.

Optimizing Light Exposure

Calathea Zebrina plants prefer indirect, bright light. Direct sunlight can damage the leaves and lead to drooping. To optimize light exposure, move your plant near a window with filtered light, or use sheer curtains to diffuse the sunlight.

Improving Soil Conditions

Loose, well-draining soil is essential for healthy roots and for preventing root rot. An ideal mix consists of:

  • 60% peat-based potting mix
  • 20% perlite or coarse sand
  • 20% compost or worm castings

Repot your Calathea Zebrina if necessary, considering the risk of overwatering that may lead to root rot.


Regulating Temperature and Humidity

Calathea Zebrina plants thrive in temperatures between 65-80°F (18-26°C) and humidity levels of at least 50%. To maintain a humid environment, you can:

  • Move the plant to a naturally humid room such as a bathroom or kitchen
  • Place the pot on a pebble tray with water
  • Use a humidifier near the plant

Avoid exposing your Calathea Zebrina to drafts or heat sources, as these can cause the plant to droop.


Preventive Measures for a Healthy Plant

Ensuring the health and happiness of your Calathea Zebrina requires a good understanding of the plant’s basic needs. The following preventive measures will help you avoid drooping issues and maintain a healthy plant.

1. Watering: Calathea Zebrina prefers a consistent level of moisture in its soil. Wait until the top inch or two of soil is dry before providing water to the plant, as overwatering can lead to drooping. It’s important to not let your plant sit in water, as it can cause health problems very quickly.

2. Humidity: Since they originate from tropical regions, these plants enjoy high humidity. You can provide this by placing a humidifier nearby, adding a pebble tray filled with water under the pot, or misting the leaves regularly.

3. Light: Calathea Zebrina thrives in indirect sunlight or low to medium light conditions. Exposing the plant to direct sunlight can burn its leaves and cause drooping. Place your plant in a well-lit area with filtered light to create the ideal environment.

4. Soil: Provide well-draining soil for Calathea Zebrina. A quality mix that allows for proper drainage and air circulation is crucial. A mixture containing peat moss or coco coir, perlite, and vermiculite is an excellent choice.

5. Fertilizing: Feed your Calathea Zebrina with a balanced liquid fertilizer every four weeks during the growing season. Over-fertilization can cause leaf burn and drooping, so it’s important to follow the recommended dosage on the fertilizer package.

6. Repotting: If necessary, repot your plant, but be gentle during the process, avoiding excessive root exposure and sudden changes in soil or light conditions, as this can lead to repotting stress.

By following these preventive measures, you can help guarantee a healthy and vibrant Calathea Zebrina.


In summarizing the possible causes for a drooping Calathea Zebrina, there are several aspects that you should consider. Primarily, issues with watering, such as overwatering or inconsistent watering can lead to drooping leaves. Ensure that the soil is allowed to dry out halfway before rewatering, and adjust the watering frequency based on the light and temperature conditions surrounding your plant.

Other relevant factors include your Calathea Zebrina’s surrounding environment. Factors like low humidity, inadequate temperature, and insufficient light can all contribute to leaf droop. To address these issues, ensure that your plant is kept in a space with adequate humidity, ideally between 60-70%, and maintain a consistent temperature range of 65-75°F.

Lastly, consider the nutritional aspects of maintaining a healthy Calathea Zebrina. Over- or underfeeding with fertilizers can lead to drooping leaves as well. To remedy this situation, flush the soil with distilled water and follow the recommended fertilizer application guidelines for your particular plant.

By addressing these key factors, you should be able to prevent and resolve drooping issues with your Calathea Zebrina. With proper care and attention, you will be able to enjoy the captivating beauty of this unique houseplant, keeping it lush and exuding its natural vibrancy.

We encourage watching this video if you want to learn more about the causes of your plant’s drooping.