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How to Care for Haworthia (Zebra Cactus)?

Because of its leaf pattern, the Haworthia is often confused with the Aloe. Although there is a striking resemblance to this beloved succulent, Haworthia is much smaller and has a painstakingly slow growth.

The white stripes on the outer part of the leaves is responsible for the Zebra Cactus name the plant is often mentioned by.

Because the plant is so easy to grow and presents no difficulties regardless of skill level, it can make an excellent office gift or cute addition to your living space.

Read my recommendations below on how to best take care of the Haworthia plant.

Size & Growth

I’ve already mentioned how the Haworthia is a small-growing succulent. The plant will only reach about 5-8 inches in height and spread. Some varieties can grow taller, but not as a rule.

The dark green, fleshy leaves of the plant form rosettes. The leaves are covered with pearly white bands or dots, resulting in a classy-looking plant.

Because of their slow growth, they can be kept in the same pot for a long time, so don’t need to worry about repotting.

Light Requirements

The Haworthia isn’t your typical succulent when it comes to light requirements. The plant can adapt to a variety of light conditions, except deep shade of course.

It will thrive even when kept in medium light conditions, such as those that are available indoors. That said, when kept in full sun, the leaves will take on different colorations such as purple, brown or orange.

If you don’t want your Zebra Cactus to change colors, simply keep the plant out of direct light, but make sure it still gets bright, indirect light or filtered light.

Without enough light, the leaves will elongate, which will ruin the rosette-like growth pattern that makes this dainty succulent so iconic.

Watering

Drought-resistant plants by nature, the Haworthia will survive long without watering, but you want your plant to thrive, not merely survive.

Therefore, to strike a good watering balance, where the plant is hydrated but not overwatered, water deeply, then allow the soil to mostly dry out before you water again.

Keep the water off the rosettes to prevent rotting, especially in cooler temperatures when there isn’t a lot of evaporation.

If overwatered, the plant’s leaves will go soft and its roots will start to rot, which will quickly decimate the plant.

Soil Type

Some of the risks of watering your Haworthia too often can be reduced by making sure you plant them in a potting mix designed for succulents or cacti.

These mixes are all well-draining and don’t retain too much moisture, which is perfect for succulents because they don’t need constant moisture.

Look for perlite, pumice, sand and other well-draining substrates in the formulation of the potting mix, or create your own mix using potting soil amended with perlite, aquarium gravel or sand.

A potting mix that drains fast will discourage root rot and allow the plant to thrive.

Temperature & Humidity

The ideal temperature range for the Haworthia is between 60 to 85 F. The plant can be grown outdoors only in zones 9-11.

The Zebra Cactus does not tolerate temperatures below 30 F, so if you live in an area where temperatures fall below 30 F during winter, you’ll need to move the plant indoors for the winter.

Humidity isn’t something you need to worry about with succulents. These are drought-tolerant plants that are happy with a dry environment.

If anything, you may need to worry about too much humidity. Don’t keep this plant in a high-humidity location, especially not one with poor ventilation.

Fertilizing

Haworthias barely need any watering, let alone fertilizing. That said, a weak solution applied 2-3 times a year, especially for a plant that produces lots of offsets can be beneficial.

You can choose not to feed this plant, especially when planted in your garden. Haworthias grown in pots draw higher benefits from occasional fertilizing compared to Haworthias grown in the ground.

Be very careful to dilute the fertilizer to ¼ of the recommended strength and don’t use it during the winter season, only during spring or summer.

As slow-growing plants, they don’t need that much of a nutritional boost as other plants do.

Potting & Repotting

Choose a deep pot for this succulent. The Haworthia has a long root system that a deep pot will accommodate best.

Also, use a terracotta pot instead of plastic pots. Unglazed terracotta is best for plants that are highly susceptible to overwatering because it absorbs moisture very well.

The Zebra Cactus doesn’t mind getting a bit pot bound, so don’t stress about repotting, especially that the plant grows small, so it doesn’t easily outgrow its pot.

A Zebra cactus that produces a lot of offsets that fill the pot, should be moved to a slightly bigger pot.

How to Propagate Haworthia?

A mature enough Haworthia will produce lots of offsets that can be separated from the parent plant and transferred to a different pot.

If you’re repotting, it’s a good a time as any to also propagate your Haworthia. The easiest way to do that is to simply separate the offsets by cutting them away with a sharp knife.

Some will easily separate by hand. Regardless of the how, make sure that your offsets all have roots.

After you’ve separated them, allow any wounds to dry for a day or so, until they form a callous at the site of the wound.

Plant in well-draining potting mix, water well, and then start caring for the newly planted Haworthias as you would for a mature plant.

Wrapping Up

If you want to try your hand at growing succulents, the Haworthia is a good plant to start with, especially that it’s not a fussy succulent, and yet it’s a beautiful succulent variety to have around.

It doesn’t need ample amounts of direct sunlight and they’re fine with growing indoors in medium light conditions.

If you want your Haworthia to thrive, don’t overwater it, keep it in a well ventilated location and plant in fast-draining potting mix.

Updated: August 6, 2021

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