Haworthia Attenuata Care: How to Grow the Zebra Plant

If you’re looking for a striking but simple plant that’s perfect for an office desk, kitchen, or succulent planter, look no further than Haworthia attenuata, or the zebra plant. It can thrive in pots, in the ground, and even indoors in a decorative arrangement so long as you care for it well.

The striking, green and white appearance is why they’re so popular. It’s how they got on my radar — I saw one at the nursery and instantly bought it!

Zebra cactus plants have a striking appearance which is one major reason why they’re so popular. Zebra cactus is often wrongly deemed as an aloe plant. It belongs to the same subfamily and is confused with an actual cactus because of the similarity in the appearance. Having deep green foliage with bright, white spots, Zebra plant is a succulent perennial which can grow quite well in any place with plenty of sun or bright light.

Recommended Products for Zebra Haworthia Care:

Quick Care

One of the more commonly kept indoor succulents, Haworthia attenuata is a striking addition
One of the more commonly kept indoor succulents, Haworthia attenuata is a striking addition. Source: washuugenius
Scientific Name:Haworthia attenuata
 Common Name(s):Zebra plant, Zebra cactus, Window plant
Family: Asphodelaceae
Origin:South Africa
Height & Spread:4-12″ tall and 6-26″ wide
Sun:Part shade
Soil:Slightly acidic, well-draining
Water:Moderate to low, neglect tolerant
Pests & Diseases:Root rot, scale, mealy bugs

This succulent is a slow grower and can live up to 50 years! It belongs to the Asphodelaceae family and is native to the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

Zebra cactus is often confused with its relative, Haworthia fasciata because of its similar appearance. The attribute that distinguishes the two is that fasciata has white, wart-like tubercles on the undersides of the leaves while attenuata has it on both the top and the bottom of the leaves.

The white tubercles on both sides of its leaves are long, thin and are a bit spread out. The leaves aren’t fibrous, but you can feel bumps or ridges if you touch the white stripes.

Types of Zebra Plant

There are a couple of varieties and subspecies that you will find for the Zebra plant. Some of the common types are discussed underneath.

Haworthiopsis attenuata var. radula

Haworthia attenuata var. radula is a classic cultivar
Haworthia attenuata var. radula is a classic cultivar. Source: Skolnik Collection

Commonly known as Hankey Dwarf Aloe, the leaves are brownish-green and has many more white tubercles than the normal variety. The leaves are longer and grows a bit more compact.

Haworthia attenuata f. variegata

This type is commonly known as Variegated Zebra plant.. It grows up to 6″ in height and diameter. The leaves are dark green and are pointed, but have yellow or cream-colored spots and bands, which gives it the classic variegated look.

Haworthia attenuata var. clariperla

This variety is distinguished from other fellow plants by its leaves that are evenly covered with white tubercles.

Haworthia attenuata ‘Crazed Glaze’

This variety is differentiated by its thinner, elongated leaves and speckling of white tubercles that are concentrated more at the growing tips of the leaves.

Zebra Plant Care

Light & Temperature

When it comes to lighting conditions, zebra plant succulent would prefer bright light, but it can handle part shade as its quite tolerant to varying lighting conditions. This makes them a wonderful terrarium or indoor grower, due to the lower amount of light available indoors.

If you want excellent growth, give them at least 6 hours of bright light daily, meaning you should place them in south-facing windowsills if growing indoors, or outdoors in full sun if working into a landscape design.

If you’re growing indoors and don’t have a lot of light, you can always take your haworthia “for a walk” outside and give it access to full sun for a day or two, then move it back inside.

Temperature wise, all species of Haworthia tend to prefer warm summers and cool winters, but don’t like any temps below about 45°F as they can start to get frost damage.

Water

Watering pearl plant is simple: it doesn’t need much, and overwatering is the surest way to kill it. If growing indoors, simply water when the soil is completely dry. If outdoors, make sure the soil is evenly moist to slightly dry, as this striped succulent holds quite a bit of water in its leaves.

Soil

As you might imagine, the zebra cactus prefers a well-draining, sandy soil. Any standard cactus and succulent mix should do quite well. You can use soil that’s slightly acidic as well as it prefers a pH range of 6.6 in a perfect world. If you’re modifying an indoor potting mix, just add more sand and perlite to get the soil where it needs to be.

Fertilizer

You don’t need to fertilize often, but if you want to boost growth of your zebra succulent you can give it a diluted cactus fertilizer during spring and summer, as the plant is growing at its maximum rate.

Propagation

The easiest way to propagate haworthia attenuata is from offsets or leaf cuttings. Offsets are the easiest, as all you need to do is use a sharp knife and cut the offset off of the mother plant, taking care to not damage the mother or the roots of the offset. Then, plant the offset in a new pot.

If propagating from a leaf cutting, you would twist a leaf off right at the base, allow it to dry, and then stick the cut end into a fresh mix of potting soil.

Repotting

It’s best to put these into large, shallow pots instead of tall, thin pots due to their clumpy growing habit. As the plant grows, it will produce offsets or plantlets that will bulk up the overall container. Once it’s pushing to the edges of the pot, you can size a pot up about 1-2″, or simply take offsets out and create new clusters of haworthia.

Troubleshooting

Close-up shot of zebra haworthia
Close-up shot of zebra haworthia. Source: tiexano

You can face problems like root rot and mealybug attacks while growing zebra haworthia plant. These problems are discussed underneath.

Growing Problems

If you notice browning leaves at the tips, that’s likely an underwatering or sunburn issue. Oftentimes these two problems coincide, as underwatering makes the plant more prone to drying out at the tips in intense heat. Fix by giving your plant a good soak and potentially relocated to an area with some protection from the hottest parts of the day.

If you see mushy, drooping leaves and stunted growth, it’s likely you’ve overwatered the plant. Either your watering habits or the soil mix is the issue here – figure out which you’ve got wrong and correct it!

Pests

You’re not likely to find many pest issues with this plant, but mealybugs and other types of scale insects can crop up. You can use pesticides and insecticidal soaps to get rid of them, or wipe your leaves with rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton swabs.

Diseases

You won’t see many diseases with zebra haworthia — just the ones caused by overwatering.

FAQs

Q. How often do haworthias need to be watered?

A. In general, you should wait until your soil is completely dry, then water deeply. This ends up working out to about once every 3 weeks in summer, and once every month or two in winter.

Q. My haworthia is turning red…why?

A. This is a typical response by the plant to being exposed to a lot of light. It’s not a bad thing, just a different appearance that some growers prefer!

Q. Will my haworthia bloom?

A. Haworthia does bloom, but as it’s a slow grower it can take a bit of time to show up, and won’t happen unless growing conditions are right – so follow this guide!


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

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