Sanchezia speciosa [san-CHEH-zee-uh, spee-see-OH-suh] is an evergreen perennial shrub species from the family Acanthaceae, native to tropical rainforests of northeastern Peru and Ecuador where it grows as an understory plant at low altitudes.
It has also been naturalized in the low elevation wet forests in many islands in the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, and Central America.
It is also widely grown for ornamental purposes due to its attractive foliage and showy flowers.
The leaves of sanchezia speciosa have prominent cream to yellow-colored veins; hence, the common name Gold Vein Plant.
You may also hear it called by its common names including:
- Zebra Plant (Aphelandra is known by the name)
- Gold Vein Plant
- Shrubby Whitevein Yellow Sanchezia
Other popular plants from the Acanthaceae family include:
- Persian shield (Strobilanthes)
- Ruellia brittoniana (Mexican shield)
- Brazilian Red Cloak (Megaskepasma Erythrochlamys)
Sanchezia Speciosa Care
Size & Growth
The semi-woody evergreen shrub featuring bright green to purple-colored smooth stems, and large dark green leaves usually grow up to 6.5’ feet in height; however, it can sometimes reach 10’ feet as well.
The plant rarely produces fruits oblong capsule-like fruits containing about 6 to 8 compressed circular seeds.
Flowering and Fragrance
During summers, sanchezia speciosa plant produces terminal spikes of bright yellow-colored flowers tubular, surrounded by red (or orange) bracts, and are 8” – 15” inches long.
The showy bracts help protect the flowers, particularly during the development and pollination stages and often last even after the flowers have fallen.
The flowers are mainly pollinated by hummingbirds.
Light & Temperature
Sanchezia speciosa should be planted or placed in a shaded area where it receives filtered sunlight; the plant cannot tolerate direct and full sun and wilts under too much heat.
The plant also requires high humidity (about 60%) to grow well and cannot tolerate very cold temperatures.
Hence, it needs to be sheltered from cold winds.
When the humidity level is low, place the pot over a tray filled with moist pebbles or clay granules and frequently spray the plant with water.
Watering and Feeding
Since the plant requires moisture to grow properly, it needs to be watered regularly, preferably with non-calcareous water, during the summers.
Reduce the watering in winters and let the soil get partially dry before watering again.
Apply a balanced fertilizer once a month in spring and summer.
During the growing season, feed the plant with plant food added in water – use about 1/4th teaspoon of plant food for a gallon of water.
Soil & Transplanting
Plant sanchezia speciosa in loamy soil rich in organic substance and has a neutral or acidic pH.
The soil should also be well-draining and kept moist, almost all the time, to ensure proper growth and avoid any issues.
The plant only needs to be repotted if it is outgrowing its pot.
Grooming and Maintenance
While sanchezia speciosa doesn’t need much maintenance, pruned for a compact appearance and to maintain foliage density.
The best time to prune is after flowering.
How to Propagate Zebra Plant
Sanchezia speciosa is easily propagated through stem cuttings, both softwood, and semi-ripe.
Since the plant is frost sensitive, take terminal end cuttings in spring, so they become established before the winter season.
However, some suggest planting the semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
Remove any lower leaves from the cuttings and dip them in a rooting hormone; also use water for this purpose.
If using water, make sure to change it frequently.
Plant the cuttings in peat-based potting mixture or soil when they have developed thick root bases and cover the pots with bag or glass to maintain humidity levels.
Indirect light is crucial for the development of the plant’s distinctive variegation.
Gold Vein Plant Pest or Diseases
Sanchezia speciosa is prone to scale insects and red spider mites.
Excessive and direct sunlight can cause scorching of the leaves, and boggy soils can lead to root rot, so be careful of the plant’s light and water requirements.
Sanchezia Speciosa Uses
In addition to being cultivated as an ornamental plant, sanchezia speciosa is also used for medicinal purposes.
Research suggests the roots of sanchezia speciosa possesses antifungal, antibacterial, anti-cancerous, and insecticidal properties, whereas some compounds present in the leaves have been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.