The reason for brown tips on the leaves of zebra succulents is drought stress because of not watering often enough or watering too lightly. High temperatures, strong air currents and direct sunlight also contribute to the zebra leaf tips turning brown as a sign of stress.
As zebra succulents (also known as zebra Haworthia, zebra cacti, Haworthiopsis fasciata) are small and compact compared to most succulent types, they can be somewhat more susceptible to drought stress if grown in unfavorable conditions.
If the lower leaves of the zebra plant are also turning brown and crispy then this indicates the plant is under watered or the soil is drying too fast for a number of factors
Zebra succulents leaf tips can suffer from drought stress for several reasons:
- Watering too lightly.
- Not watering often enough.
- Air currents from wind if outdoors or air conditioning and convection currents indoors.
- The zebra succulent is next to a source of heat which dries the soil too quickly.
- Potting soil has baked hard during drought and repels water off the surface rather then infiltrate properly to reach the roots.
- Excess heat.
- Exposure to direct sunlight.
Keep reading to learn why your zebra plant leaf tips are turning brown and how to solve it…
Brown Tips due to Under Watering
Zebra succulents are native to Southern Africa and grow in relatively hot climates with infrequent rainfall and gritty soils that does not retain much moisture are the roots.
However, when it does rain in their native environment it tends to be a heavy down pour which soaks the soil significantly, so that the roots can uptake the water they require and store it in their thick leaves to survive drought.
To prevent your zebra succulents developing brown tips replicate their natural conditions by soaking the soil with a generous amount of water so that excess water trickles from the drainage holes in the base of the pot.
This ensures that the water has infiltrated the potting soil so that the roots can uptake the moisture they require.
If you water too lightly then only the top inch or so of the soil becomes moist and the water does not reach the roots which causes the leaf tips to turn brown.
Water zebra plants when the potting soil has dried as this recreates the cycle of a good soak of the soil followed by a period of drought.
Typically this means watering your zebra plant once every 2 weeks if grown in a pot indoors but this varies according to different climate and conditions.
This ensures the optimal balance of moisture so that the zebra succulents water requirements are met whilst avoid effects of over watering such as root rot.
A proper watering schedule and watering with a generous soak of water prevents the leaf tips turning brown and can help to restore the plant to a healthy appearance.
(Read my article how to water zebra succulents to learn how to establish the optimal watering cycle for zebra succulents in your climate and conditions).
Air Currents Can Cause Leaf tips to Turn Brown
Zebra succulents prefer bright, indirect sunlight in rocky areas or shaded by other vegetation rather then full sun in their native habitat.
Therefore they do not necessarily grow well in open areas with excessive air currents from wind if your growing outdoors or air conditioning, draughts or forced air if your growing indoors.
Whilst the zebra succulent grows in environments with low humidity they does not usually have to contend with the drying affect of air conditioning which effectively dries out the moisture from the pot and saps moisture from the leaves at a quick rate which results in the leaf tips turning brown as a sign of stress.
Zebra succulents are capable of tolerating breezy conditions but always locate your zebra succulents out the way of excessive air flow or sources of heat in an area of your home or garden with bright indirect light and the plant can recover.
(To learn more read my article how to revive a dying zebra plant).
Zebra Succulent Potting Soil Repels Water Causing Drought Stress
Zebra plants require the soil to dry out between bouts of watering as this emulates the natural watering and soil moisture cycle of its native environment.
However if the zebra succulent is planted in conventional potting soil then it can bake hard between bouts of watering particularly if it contains peat moss which can repel water off the surface of the soil when it dries out.
This can cause all the water to run off the surface of the soil and down the side of the pot, escaping through the drainage holes in the base without absorbing into the soil properly.
Therefore the roots of your zebra plant are not able to access the moisture they require and the leaf tips turn brown and crispy as a sign of drought stress.
If your soil is repelling water then it is important to re-plant zebra succulents in specially formulated succulent and cacti soil which mimics the soil conditions of the zebra succulents native conditions.
The special succulent and cacti soil is contains the soil profile that succulents require with a porous well draining texture that allows water to infiltrate properly even when it has completely dried out.
This allows your zebra succulent to uptake the water it requires to prevent leaf tips turning brown. There should be some improvement in the appearance of you plant in the following weeks.
(For all the best practices read my article how to grow and care for zebra succulents).
Zebra succulents grow in bright, indirect light rather the full sun. Therefore they prefer the milder temperature offered by some shade rather the coping with the stress of intense sun and high temperatures.
Zebra succulents grow best in the temperature range of 55°F-80°F (13°C-27°C). Whilst they can tolerate hotter temperatures temporarily this can increase the rate at which the soil dries so the root cannot uptake the moisture they require.
Higher temperatures also sap moisture from the leaves which results in the leaf tips turning brown and crispy.
Ensure that the zebra succulent is in the temperature range of 55°F-80°F (13°C-27°C) where possible to avoid stress to the plant.
It is important to emphasize that whilst zebra succulents can tolerate some direct sunlight they have a preference fro bright indirect light.
Harsh sun can dry out the leaf tips and cause the succulent to turn red or even white as a sign of stress.
A healthy zebra succulent has dark green leaves with white stripe so if you notice your plant turning red or white then this is a clear indication of too much sunlight.
As long as the zebra succulent is not sun burnt (which can leaves brown dry patches) then the plant should recover once it is out of direct sunlight.
- Zebra succulents leaf tips turn brown when they are suffering from drought stress because of not watering often enough or watering too lightly.
- High temperatures, excess wind or air conditioning and too much sun can also cause the leaf tips to turn brown as a sign of stress.
- Zebra succulents prefer bright indirect light and temperature in the range of 55°F-80°F (13°C-27°C) to avoid brown leaf tips.
- Always water zebra succulents with a generous soak and locate in an area out of excessive air currents.