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Guide to Growing the Zebra Plant

Written by Mindy on March 14th, 2018

Looking for a houseplant that is hard to kill? Well, if the answer is yes then you need the Zebra plant (Hawothiopsis altenala). This is a tough little succulent that can survive even when conditions are not ideal. While you may guess where the “zebra” part of the name comes from, the best part beyond its easy care, if the fact that it adds texture to a singular planting or cactus garden. Past the white stripes on the plant, it also has pointy leaves that add visual interest.

growing.the.zebra.plantWhen it comes to grow the Zebra plant, the process is simple and begins with the soil selection. Since this plant is a succulent, it does require a well draining soil. The best choice is a planting medium that is especially designed for succulents and cactuses. If you cannot find one, do not worry you can make your own. This is simply done by combining an all purpose potting soil with coarse sand at a one to one ratio. If you have not already selected your container, this is the time but…..keep in mind that you only need a small one if you are using the Zebra plant as a specimen. The reason for the small pot size is the fact that this plant grows very slowly.

Once that is done, clean your pot, add drainage material and fill half way with the planting medium. Now you are ready to remove your Zebra plant from its container and plant.

As stated before, the Zebra plant is hard to kill. It loves bright sunlight so the best location is a sunny windowsill but it can tolerate darker environments that receive indirect sunlight.  If you are to kill your Zebra plant, the easiest way is to overwater and/or getting the leaves wet. When it comes to watering this succulent, you will want to check the soil’s moisture first. Yes, there are meters that can be bought to test the soil moisture but you are actually born with the best meter. What is it? Your finger and it can tell you everything you need to know. To use this technique, just push your finger down into the planting medium and pull straight up. If your finger comes out dry then you need to water. On the other hand, if it appears covered in soil then do not water.

When it comes to watering, do not just throw water on the plant. As I stated before, one of the ways to kill this plant is to get the leaves wet. Because of the shape of the leaves, water easily pools in between the leaves. This pooling will eventually cause the leaves to rot. To prevent this, only water the soil. Continue to add water until you see moisture coming out of the drainage hole.


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