How to Grow and Care for Haworthiopsis Fasciata (Zebra Plant)

Haworthiopsis Fasciata

Quick Overview

Plant Type: Succulent, perennial
Family: Asphodelaceae
Sun Exposure: Full, partial
Watering: Light
Colors: Producing white or pink flowers
Size: 3-5 inches tall
Hardiness Zones: 9-11, USA
Soil Type: Sandy, well-drained
Soil pH: Neutral
Propagation: Offsets or "pups"
Toxicity: Non-toxic

Few succulents are as enticing as the attractive Haworthiopsis fasciata, also known as Zebra Plant. It is perfect for beginners; it is exciting to grow and easy to propagate, which means you can share! More on this later. There are about 60 species and 150 varieties of Haworthia. It belongs to the family Asphodelaceae, the same family as the aloe plant. Zebra plant is native to Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. It features dark green leaves in rosettes with thin, white “stripes.” It is a small plant reaching only a few inches in height and width. This means it can live anywhere, including the smallest dorm room or apartment! 

The critical points of caring for your Haworthiopsis fasciata are as follows. More in-depth information is available below. Once you become the proud owner of a Zebra Plant, you will want to:

  1. Find a suitable location either indoors or out (bright indirect light is best).
  2. Water every 1-3 weeks, depending on temperature and humidity.
  3. Keep the plant at a basic room temperature.
  4. Fertilize 2-3 times a year.

The Zebra plant is not considered to be toxic to pets and small children.

Haworthiopsis Fasciata

About the Haworthiopsis Fasciata

Haworthiopsis are succulent plants formerly belonging to the genus Haworthia. They are popular houseplants, especially for succulent enthusiasts. The species Haworthiopsis Fasciata is actually quite rare in cultivation. Most plants labeled H. fasciata are, in fact, Haworthiopsis attenuata. True H. fasciata has smooth top leaves, while the bottom of the leaf has white tubercle markings. H. attenuata has tubercles on both the upper and lower sides of the leaves. But, their care is the same. Haworthia will flower and produce tiny, tubular pink or white flowers on a thin stem in some cases. 

How to Care for and Grow Haworthiopsis Fasciata

Light

Haworthiopsis fasciata thrives in partial-to-direct or indirect light. Zebra plants can tolerate everything down to medium light. Direct sunlight, where the sun is actually hitting the plants, is generally not ideal for H. fasciata. If you want your plant on a sill, opt for a window that only receives a few hours of sunlight a day. Indirect sunlight means a plant is in proximity to light. An example would be placing your plant near a window but not directly in it. East or south-facing windows are good options for loads of natural light. 

If your plant is on or near a sill, remember to open those shades if you have blackout curtains! Water once every two or three weeks. Too much water or direct sunlight are the biggest ways you can mess up with this plant. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings and pay attention to the plant’s light levels. This will affect how much you water. Plants in partial-to-direct sunlight need more water than plants in indirect light. Haworthiopsis fasciata can sometimes turn a rich shade of purple/red when exposed to enough sunlight. Exercise caution as too much sunlight can cause brown plants! This is a form of sunburn, exacerbated by areas where the sun is more intense. To be safe, keep your Zebra plant in indirect light. Growing in a terrarium is also an option for these succulents! Remember to reduce watering as temperatures drop and allow the soil to dry out on top. 

Haworthiopsis Fasciata

Temperature and Humidity 

Zebra plants can tolerate either high or low humidity. They cannot, however, tolerate low temperatures. If you are growing Zebra Plant outdoors, even a night or two of low temps are enough to cause damage. Freezing temps are too cold for this plant, and it is ideal to keep them at temps above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Pay attention to plants placed near windows and monitor for freezing temperatures in the winter. Also, check for drafty windows. While indoors, your average room temperature is suitable for your plant. Warmer temps should not cause problems. 

Haworthiopsis Fasciata Fertilization 

Haworthiopsis fasciata should be fertilized every 2 to 3 months during the year. You can use a cactus fertilizer mixed to half-strength. Do not fertilize in summer as these plants enter a rest period lasting 6 to 8 weeks during this time! 

Containers and Soil

The best containers for all succulents are terracotta or ceramic. If you buy a Zebra Plant in a small plastic pot, consider re-potting in terracotta or ceramic. When re-potting to accommodate a plant too large for its pot, do so in the Spring when root systems are most robust. Plan to re-pot every two years or so in a well-draining cactus mix. Skip the watering directly after re-potting. Wait for about a week before introducing water to the newly potted plant. 

You can choose to experiment with a variety of soils for succulents if you don’t wish to use a pre-made cactus or succulent mix. A well-draining soil mix of sand, pumice and potting soil works well for Zebra plants. These mixes can be customized to achieve specific design looks as well regarding color and texture. 

Haworthiopsis Fasciata Safety and Toxicity

H. fasciata is generally accepted as safe and non-toxic to pets. 

Haworthiopsis Fasciata

Propagating Your Zebra Plant

A well-cared-for Zebra Plant is that it will produce its own baby plants (called “chicks” or “pups”). These look like a miniature version of the Zebra Plant growing from the base of the main plant. To propagate, slowly remove the pup from the mother plant. Some pups will remove easily; others will not. Strive to keep a bit of the root attached.

Dry the pup for a day to ensure any cuts on it are sealed. Re-pot the pup in the sandy potting soil or cactus mix. You can dip the pup in rooting hormone first to help speed up the re-rooting process. Pack the soil lightly and water occasionally. It’s recommended to lightly mist the soil as well between waterings. New plants need more water than mature ones. Protect the young plants from direct sunlight. Over time, you can gradually increase the amount of sun your new plant receives. 

A slower method of starting a new plant is to propagate from leaf cuttings. Cut a leaf from the base and try to keep some of the white stem. Dip the bottom of the leaf and white stem in a rooting hormone and place the leaf bottom into the rooting medium. Use a misting bottle and water consistently. Do not over or underwater cuttings) and in a few weeks, new roots will appear. 

Zebra plant

If you grow Haworthiopsis fasciata by seed, you will need to germinate the seed within six months of harvest. Growing from seed requires a green thumb but is not complex. To grow Zebra Plant from seed, you’ll need a growing medium that dries out after 1-3 weeks of watering. Common mixes are 80% pumice and 20% peat or coir. The medium needs to be both well-draining yet water-retentive. Once you have your medium, moisten it and then put it in an oven-safe container at 350 for 30 minutes to sterilize it. This reduces the chance for fungal growth in an environment of high humidity. Sow the seeds in a clean container. Then, cover them with a layer of coarse pumice and soak the container in a fertilizer solution for 24 hours. Make sure it’s protected to discourage egg-laying pests.

Finally, seal the seeds and medium in a clear plastic bag. This ensures the high humidity necessary for germination. Leave them in a bright place without direct sunlight. Shake the seeds and medium before laying the bag down to distribute the seeds. Examine for fungus or leakage. After 2 weeks, you should see new plants beginning to grow! After 2 months, the plants should start developing leaves. Remove them from the bag and exposed them to air. Water frequently during this time. After 6 months, they may be re-potted into a regular growing medium. Succulents favor sandy soils so, make sure to mix sand, pumice, or vermiculite in with the potting soil. You can also buy a succulent/cactus mix from the store. You will now have a new plant to care for – or several! 

Zebra plant

Troubleshooting 

Despite our best efforts, all plants can run into problems. Here is a handy guide to walk you through common issues with Zebra Plant.

Trouble: Curling leaves or dry potting mix 
Cause: Underwatering

Trouble: Brown, dried, or red leaf tips 
Cause: Underwatering or soil compaction – gently break up soil around plant roots and/or re-pot

Trouble: Yellowing leaves, mushy brown leaves, or transparent leaves
Cause: Overwatering, root rot 

Trouble: Dusty leaves
Solution: Wipe gently with a cloth and/or use a misting bottle on leaves in addition to watering every few weeks. 

Trouble: Small brown spots and/or webbing especially new plant growth
Cause: Spider mites
Solution: Insecticidal oil or neem oil sprayed on plant, or a miticide

Trouble: White, cottony areas on the base of leaves
Cause: Mealybugs
Solution: Rubbing alcohol 75% sprayed and left on plant

Haworthiopsis Fasciata

Reviving a Dying Haworthiopsis

Overwatering is the leading cause of death for the Zebra plant. Succulents store water in their leaves and do not require frequent weekly waterings like other common houseplants. Not paying attention to the watering schedule can lead to overwatering. Likewise, don’t be so eager to fix an underwatered plant that you kill your Zebra plant with kindness. Excess water causes leaves to turn yellow, brown, or transparent and fall off as the root system rots. It is often impossible to revive a Zebra plant whose roots are in an advanced stage of decay. Action must be taken quickly at the first signs of overwatering. Carefully remove the damaged leaves (don’t force them if they don’t release). Cut back on watering and misting, or abstain entirely. It is best not to disturb the root system with re-potting while it is in a fragile state. If the entire root system is gone, it may be worth the effort to put the plant in dry cactus growing medium. Ignore it for a bit to see if roots begin to re-form. 

It may take weeks or months for the plant to regain a root system, so be patient with your damaged succulent. 

Zebra plants are seldom bothered by pests. Inspect the plants for signs of spider mites or mealybugs. See Troubleshooting in the section above for specific information. An infestation can lead to plant death or compromise your plant’s ability to thrive. 

Fun Facts About Zebra Plants

The genus Haworthiopsis is named for British entomologist and botanist Adrian Hardy Haworth. H. fasciata is slow-growing and long-lasting. This means your new plant “friend” could be around for a lifetime, given adequate care. Zebra plants pair well with other succulents and can even grow in the same pot! The name Zebra Plant is also given to several different plant varieties. Be sure any information you get is referencing the correct plant! Haworthiopsis fasciata is also known as “Zebra Cactus.” Contrary to popular belief, Zebra Plant is not “striped aloe.” As a similar succulent, they do resemble one another, but aloe is a different plant. 

The Takeaway

Zebra Plants can be enjoyable and satisfying to grow – especially when they produce new pups! They are excellent starter plants that can last many years. Zebra Plants make exciting and beautiful additions to office spaces, dorm rooms. Pairing your Zebra Plant with other succulents can be a neat way to decorate and create a unique space. You can also play around with potting soils and try out how different colors look in your home or office space! Most major garden centers carry Haworthiopsis, making it easy to add this succulent to your new or growing collection of plants.