how to grow haworthia fasciata

haworthia fasciata is one of the most reliable and attractive types of succulent. like many succulents, it is the foliage that is the main attraction.

the thick leaves of haworthia fasciata are typically dark green in color and are marked with horizontal zebra-like stripes on the outside. while the outer surface is dappled with white bumps, the inside the leaf is smooth to the touch.

an attractive houseplant, haworthia fasciata grows well indoors either on its own or as part of a succulent arrangement. in the warmest climates the plants can also be cultivated outside. ideal for beginners, these plants are easy to care for and propagate. this guide to growing a haworthia fasciata takes you through everything that you need to know.

1 haworthia fasciata

the zebra cactus is a popular houseplant.

what is haworthia fasciata?

a succulent, haworthia fasciata is part of the asphodeloideae family, haworthis or haworthiopsus genus.

there are over 100 different cultivars. however the classification of these plants is complicated. the more common species are identified by the size of their leaves and the white markings on them. most types are cultivated as evergreen, perennial succulents.

native to the shrub lands of south africa, these small specimens are typically 5 to 7 inches tall. as the plants grow, the triangular leaves form a leafy rosette. this can, when fully developed, measure between 6 and 8 inches wide.

the leafy rosette can resemble the markings of a zebra. for this reason haworthia fasciata specimens are sometimes called the zebra plant or zebra cactus.

during the summer months white tubular flowers form on long, slender inflorescence.

traditionally known as haworthia fasciata, the plants are now commonly referred to as haworthiopsus fasciata. derived from the latin word fascia, meaning band or strip, the name fasciata refers to the plant’s banded leaves. because of their appearance, the plants are sometimes compared to gasteria or ox tongue plants.

the zebra cactus plant is commonly mistaken for haworthiopsus attenuate. members of the same plant family, these are similar looking succulents. however, upon closer inspection, some key differences are noticeable. the inner leaves of haworthia fasciata plants tend to be smooth, while haworthiopsus attenuate leaves are more bumpy.

haworthia fasciata foliage also tends to be more plump or chubby. this has led to some people assuming that the zebra cactus is an aloe plant.

while haworthia fasciata var. fasciata is the most commonly grown cultivar, there are a number of other colorful and attractive specimens currently available. some of the most attractive include:

  • big band has a pleasing, clump-forming habit. the dark green leaves of this evergreen perennial are marked with broad white stripes,
  • super white zebra is a particularly attractive specimen. its plump green leaves are marked with white bumpy stripes. alba is a compact cultivar ideal for mini pots. as the plant matures the wide white bands all but obscure the green foliage.
  • royal albert is another small cultivar which can be identified by its pointed dark green, almost black, foliage,
  • haworthia fasciata f. browniana is a colorful cultivar, identified by its green and dark red leaves,
  • haworthia fasciata f patensie is small and compact plant with red and light green leaves.

2 colorful haworthia fasciata cultivars
colorful cultivars are available.  

where to grow

hardy in usda zones 10 and warmer, zebra cactus is not a cold hardy specimen. if you are growing in cooler areas, where temperatures can fall below 30 ℉ these plants are best planted in a pot and cultivated indoors. during warm, summer spells the plants can be taken outside. remember to move them back undercover before the temperatures fall.

whether you are growing inside or outside, the temperature should remain between 30 and 50  ℉. during the summer months temperatures can be allowed to climb to between 60 and 85 ℉. established zebra cactus plants tolerate heat well.

humidity levels should not be allowed to rise above 10%. a vivosun digital thermometer enables you to accurately monitor temperature and humidity levels around succulents and sensitive plants.

best placed in a partial sun position, the zebra cactus requires 4 to 6 hours of sunlight every day. morning light is best. too much light, particularly intense afternoon sunlight can burn the leaves or cause them to turn a shade of deep red. this is a sign of stress. if not removed to a shadier position, the leaves eventually turn white and shrivel up.

if you are growing indoors, place the plants in or close to an east or south facing window.

in its natural habitat, the haworthia fasciata plant grows in acidic sandy soils. aim to plant in a substrate that mimics this.

a succulent, the zebra cactus plant is best planted in a cactus or succulent potting mix. you can make your own well draining potting mix by combining equal parts soil, perlite and sand, this is a light, well draining mix. a well draining soil doesn’t hold excess moisture helping to reduce the chances of issues such as root rot from developing.

how to plant or repot

whether you are growing in the ground or a pot, the planting process is largely the same. despite being a slow growing plant, haworthia fasciata occasionally requires repotting. in general most specimens need to be repotted once every 3 years. this is best done in the spring.

if you are able to plant haworthia fasciata in the ground, prepare the soil before planting. it should be light and well draining.

for indoor specimens, repot into a similar sized or slightly larger pot. be careful to use a suitable container such as a terracotta pot. if you are not sure what sort of pot you should use for your succulent, our guide to succulent pots has all the information that you need.

if you are planting in the soil, make a hole large enough to comfortably hold the root system. you can check this by placing the pot currently holding the plant in the hole. it should comfortably fit inside with the lip of the pot sitting at, or just above, soil level.

if you are planting in a pot, add a layer of soil to the bottom of the pot.

carefully remove the zebra cactus plant from its container and gently brush away any excess soil. inspect the roots for signs of root rot before placing it in the hole. when placed in the hole or pot the plant should sit at roughly the same level as when it was in the original pot. you may need to add or remove soil to get the soil level right.

when you are happy with the position of the plant, add more fresh potting mix to the hole, gently firming it down. water well.

3 repot haworthia fasciata regularly
repot regularly to prevent the roots from becoming compact. haworthia fasciata by i05 / cc 2.0

haworthia fasciata care

the zebra cactus, once established, is a low maintenance, easy to grow succulent.

when to water

water your plant in moderation, allowing the soil to fully dry out between waterings. this helps to prevent issues such as root rot from developing. remember the zebra cactus is a succulent which is capable of storing moisture in its leaves. this enables the plant to tolerate periods of drought.

the best way to water the zebra cactus plant, as well as many other succulents, is by adopting the soak and dry method. our guide to watering succulents explains in detail how to carry out this process successfully.

a slow growing plant, during the winter months the zebra cactus plant can become dormant. during this period, reduce the amount you water significantly. knowing exactly when to water succulents can be difficult. a soil moisture sensor is a useful investment.

4 well draining soil
like many succulents, the zebra cactus plant is best placed in well draining soil. 

how to fertilize

the zebra cactus is a slow growing plant that does not require lots of fertilizer.

if you are growing haworthia fasciata in a terrarium fertilize the plants once every 4 to 6 months.

specimens growing in pots can be given a dose of diluted liquid fertilizer once every 2 to 3 months.

during the winter months the plants become dormant. there is no need to fertilize dormant plants. cease fertilizing as the flowers fade in the fall. you can resume fertilizing in the spring as new growth emerges.

do i need to prune the plant?

slow growing plants, haworthia fasciata does not require regular pruning. spent flowers should be cut away at the stem to keep the plants looking neat and tidy.  additionally, any damaged or dying foliage can also be cut away to keep the plants looking neat.

can i propagate a haworthia fasciata plant?

one of the main attractions of the zebra cactus plant is that it is easy to propagate. this allows you to easily and cheaply increase the size of your plant collection. you can also give propagated specimens away as gifts or use the young plants to fill gaps in your collection left by older specimens fading with age.

like other succulents, including hens and chicks, the easiest way to propagate the zebra cactus is by harvesting the offsets.

offsets are small plants that emerge around the base of the main plant. to separate, gently lift the offsets away from the plant. you may need to use sharp, clean scissors to separate the offsets from the main plant. each offset should be a couple of inches in length before you harvest.

place the offsets in a dry, safe place, such as on a windowsill or a potting bench, for a few days. as the offset dries a callus forms over the cut area. once the callus has formed, pot the offset on in a small pot filled with fresh, succulent potting soil.

common pests and problems

as long as the light levels are correct, the zebra cactus plant is an easy to grow, problem free specimen.

the condition of the leaves can tell you a lot about the health of the plant. if the light levels aren’t right the colorful leaves won’t reveal their full attraction.

yellowing foliage is a sign that the zebra cactus plant is receiving too much light. the foliage may also turn white or red. if you are growing indoors, moving the plant slightly back from the window should resolve this. zebra cactus plants growing outside can be shaded with a garden expert shade cloth.

if your zebra cactus starts to drop its leaves, or the foliage shrivels up, it probably means that you are either over or underwatering the plant. check the moisture content of the soil and amed your watering routine accordingly. if action is taken soon enough, the plant quickly recovers.

haworthia fasciata infestations are rare. however, scale insects and spider mites can sometimes inhabit the plants. scale bugs are particularly problematic, sticking to the leaves and harvesting vital nutrients. infestations can be controlled with an appropriate pesticide. neem oil can also be wiped onto infected leaves. this provides a reliable, organic control.

do haworthia fasciata plants flower?

in the right conditions the zebra cactus plant can flower. while this is more common in outdoor specimens, sometimes indoor plants also bloom. however, for many growers, it is the foliage of the zebra cactus that is the main attraction. any flowers that do emerge are an added bonus.

zebra cactus flowers are typically white or pink in color. they are small blooms that sit on elongated inflorescence. the inflorescence can measure up to 1 ft long on mature specimens and can be white, red, green or brown in color.

zebra cactus plants typically flower in the spring. some specimens may flower in the summer.

5 haworthia fasciata foliage
while these plants can flower, it is rare and the leaves are the main attraction. haworthia fasciata by maja dumat / cc 2.0

a reliable ornamental plant, the zebra cactus is a good companion plant for other succulents such as aloe, echeveria, agave, kalanchoe, baby jade, haworthia cooperi, sempervivum and sedum. all succulents, these plants share similar growing and care needs meaning that they can be planted together in a redhugo glass terrarium or clustered together as a houseplant collection.

attractive and easy to grow, children in particular love these attractive ornamental succulents. considered non toxic, meaning that they are safe to grow around children and pets, haworthia fasciata is an ideal house plant.

haworthia fasciata 1 haworthia fasciata 2