How to Grow and Care For Zebra Succulents

How to grow and care for zebra succulents

Water zebra succulents once every 2-3 weeks. Place in bright indirect sunlight at temperatures between 55°F-80°F. Zebra succulents grow best indoors, in special succulent and cacti soil for the optimal drainage profile, in pots with drainage holes in the base.

Typically Zebra succulents reach a height and width of 6 inches (15cm) at maturity.

Zebra succulents (Haworthia fasciata) also known as zebra cacti are very easy, low-maintenance plants to care for that adapt very well to growing as house plants indoors.

Keep reading for all the best practices for growing zebra succulents to keep your plant healthy…

Zebra Succulent Plant Profile:

Care/Requirements:Zebra Succulent (Haworthia fasciata) Care:
Sun:Requires bright, indirect light.
Watering:Water when the potting soil dries out completely.
Symptoms of Over Watering:Leaves turn brown or yellow with a soft, mushy texture.
Symptoms of Under Watering:Brown tips to the leaves. Lower leaves can turn brown and crispy.
Soil:Requires well-draining succulent soil to prevent root rot.
Hardiness:Tender to frost, grow indoors unless in a frost-free climate. Prefer dry conditions.
Pots and Containers:Grows and propagates well in pots and containers that are proportionate in size to the root ball.
Active Growing Seasons:Grows more in the Spring and Fall during milder temperatures.
Dormancy:Can enter dormancy in response to high temperatures consistently more than 80°F and require less water. Grow can slow in Winter due to fewer hours of light.
Preferred Temperature Range:Grows well at room temperature. Temperatures of between 55°F-80°F (13°C-27°C) are considered ideal.
Feeding:Feeding during the active growing months in the Spring and the Fall is optimal for care.
Size at Maturity:Zebra succulents grow slowly to a compact size of around 6 inches (15 cm) in height and width.

Watering Zebra Succulents (Haworthia fasciata)

How Often to Water Zebra Succulents:

Zebra succulents are drought-resistant plants that are native to Southern Africa in hot and dry conditions in gritty soils with infrequent rainfall.

Therefore to successfully care for zebra succulents replicate their watering cycle of their native environment by watering with a generous soak so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot and then allow the soil to dry out completely between bouts of watering.

How quickly your soil dries out determines how often you should water zebra succulents but typically in most homes watering once every 2 weeks meets the moisture requirements of the plant without causing root rot.

To establish the optimal watering frequency for zebra plants in your home water the plant with a good soak and monitor the soil’s moisture by feeling the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage hole in the base.

If the soil feels moist or damp, delay watering for a few days, if the soil feels dry this is the perfect time to water your zebra succulent.

How Much to Water Zebra Succulents:

Always water with a generous soak, so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot.

This ensures that the water has infiltrated the soil so that the roots can uptake the moisture they require.

Symptoms of Overwatering:

Zebra plants are adapted to living in dryer climates so they are more at risk from over watering than under watering.

The signs of stress of an overwatered zebra succulent are leaves that turn brown or yellow with a soft, mushy texture to their leaves. The leaves can also droop downwards.

If this happens to your zebra succulent scale back the watering immediately and allow the soil to dry out. Consider replacing the soil if it retains moisture for long periods as this causes root rot.

(Read my article on how to revive a dying zebra plant if your plant looks unhealthy).

Symptoms of Under Watering:

The leaf tips can turn dry in response to underwatering, especially low humidity or too much airflow from draughts, air conditions, forced air, or any other air currents.

Zebra succulent with brown leaf tips from excessive airflow.
Zebra succulent with brown leaf tips from excessive airflow.

The lower leaves can turn brown and crispy when suffering severe drought stress from under watering. The thick plump leaves that store water tend to go thinner in drought.

(Read my article to learn more, about zebra succulent brown leaf tips).

If this happens to your zebra succulent, increase watering (as long as the soil dries out somewhat between bouts of watering), water with a generous soak, and locate the plant in an area without significant air currents and it should revive after two or three cycles of watering.

(For all the best practices of watering read my article on how to water a zebra succulent).

Best Soil for Zebra Succulents

Zebra succulents grow in gritty well-draining soils in their native South Africa and to grow zebra succulents successfully indoors it is important to emulate these soil conditions.

Ideally, plant your zebra succulent in specially formulated succulent and cacti soil with is prepared to mimic the soil characteristics of the plant’s native soil conditions with a large particle size and a well-draining porous structure.

Normal potting soil tends to retain moisture for too long around the roots of your drought adapted zebra plant which can cause the same symptoms as over watering and promote the conditions for root rot.

Locate Zebra Succulents in Bright, Indirect Light

In their native habitat zebra succulents tend to grow in shaded areas under the cover of rocks or other vegetation that can protect it from direct sun.

The sun in its native range of South Africa is very intense, so zebra succulents only grow where there is enough shade yet still bright light.

The zebra succulent’s preference for bright light makes it a great adaptable house plant as long as it is not in direct light on a window sill, in which case it may turn red or white as a sign of stress.

In optimal light conditions, the zebra succulent has a deep green color with its distinctive white stripes.

Pots and Containers for Zebra Succulents

Plant zebra succulents in pots that are proportionate in size to the root ball.

If the pot or container is too large it can take too long to dry out and the zebra succulent is at more risk of developing root rot.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole in the base to allow excess water to escape so that the soil can dry out properly between bouts of watering.

Zebra succulents can grow in any type of material pot but clay or terracotta pots are considered best as they are somewhat porous which allows the soil to dry more efficiently than plastic pots.

Zebra plants can tolerate being somewhat root-bound but it is best practice to re-pot to a pot that is a size up to prevent roots from blocking drainage holes and causing water to drain too slowly.

Re-potting is best done in the Spring but can be done successfully at any time of year.

Active Growth and Summer Dormancy of Zebra Succulents

Zebra succulents can enter a state of dormancy during Summer when the temperatures are high as a survival strategy to cope with hot, dry, and hostile conditions in their native South Africa.

When temperatures exceed 80°F (27°C) in Summer for a consistent period then the zebra succulent slows down growth so it can conserve its resources, particularly water.

When the plant is in a state of dormancy it can be more susceptible to root rot as the plant has a lower demand for water.

So do not necessarily water your zebra succulent more frequently in Summer particularly if the temperature is high.

As long as the soil dries out between watering and the zebra is planted in a pot that is proportional to its size then it should be okay and the plant can start actively growing again when the temperatures cool.

Zebra succulents grow at a faster rate (although they still grow slowly) during the Spring and Fall as there is a balance of bright light and cooler temperatures.

It is during the Spring and Fall that they are more likely to grow offsets which can be used for propagation.

Growth of zebra succulents in Winter can be slower in response to fewer hours of light. Water zebra succulents once every 3 or 4 weeks in Winter.

Optimal Temperature Range and Rate of Growth

A temperature range of between approximately 55°F-80°F (13°C-27°C) is best for growing zebra plants.

If the temperature exceeds this range then the plant turns dormant to retain moisture. If it is colder than the optimal range the plant can tolerate some cold occasionally but is likely to die back in frost.

Zebra succulents are slow growers even for succulents and eventually reach a compact size of 6 inches (15 cm) in height and width.

Zebra succulents grow faster in bright, indirect light rather than shade (avoid direct sunlight as this can burn the plant) so if you want to increase the rate of growth a grow light can be used for a few extra hours of light.

Fertilizer for Zebra Succulents

Zebra succulents are adapted to growing in gritty, sandy soils which tend to be low in nutrients, so they do not require as much fertilizer as other house plants.

However, fertilizer can be used in the growing months, particularly in the Spring and Fall typically once per month for healthy growth.

I personally prefer to use a specialist succulents and cacti fertilizer (available from garden centers and Amazon) as it contains all the nutrients that zebra succulents require at the right concentrations to avoid problems with overfeeding your succulents.

Avoid using fertilizer in the Winter or during high temperatures in Summer whilst the succulent is not growing as actively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Zebra succulents require bright indirect sunlight, and gritty well-draining soil and thrive at room temperature. Let the soil dry out between watering, typically watering your zebra succulent once every 2 or 3 weeks.
  • Plant zebra succulents in specially formulated succulent and cacti soil in a pot or containers with drainage holes in the base of it.
  • Zebra plants require bright, indirect light and can burn in too much direct sunlight.
  • Zebra succulents actively grow in the months of Spring and Fall when the temperatures are mild and there are more hours of bright, indirect light. Zebra succulents grow slower in Winter in response to fewer hours of light and can go dormant in Summer in High temperatures. Only water zebra succulents when the soil is dry to prevent root rot.

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