Haworthia attenuata, commonly referred to as zebra plant, is just one of about 60 species in the Haworthia genus (Haworthia spp.) ; all the species are native to South Africa. Zebra plant is a small, rosetted, clustering succulent suitable for a windowsill garden or as a specimen houseplant. It is hardy outdoors all year, however, in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 10. Zebra plant is prized for its showy, striped look of its white bands of small projections, or tubercles, on its dark-green leaves, and these traits are useful when identifying zebra plants.
The raised, white, white leaf bands are the most conspicuous identifying markings on zebra plants, but they also can be identified by their slim, stiff, leathery leaves that are sharply pointed. The leaves are 1 to 3 1/2 inches long and spread outward in the base of each plant but point upright at the center of the rosette. Each rosette is 3 to 4 inches wide and finally can cluster to fill out a 6-inch-diameter pot. Thin, wiry, non-branched flower stalks rise several inches over the leaf rosettes and bear small, white, six-petaled flowers in their ends.
Different from Aloes
Zebra plants are somewhat like other rosette-forming African succulents, such as aloes (Aloe spp.) Distinguish a zebra plant in an aloe by their flowers. Aloe has a stout, usually branching flower stalk with long, yellow, orange, purple, purple or red tubular flowers, and zebra plant contains greenish white keels. Additional differences are in the leaves. Aloe leaves frequently have sawtooth borders, and a zebra plant’s leaves are smooth. Aloe leaves can have a banded appearance, but it’s due to this internal pigmentation of their leaves rather than external color from tubercles. Aloes are generally much larger than zebra plants. They also vary in cold-hardiness, based on the species; as an example, tiger aloe, also called partridge breast aloe (Aloe variegata), which is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11.
Different from Gasterias
Zebra plants also somewhat resemble their larger succulent relatives in the Gasteria genus (Gasteria spp.) . Based on the variety, these plants are hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11. Gasteria plants have stout, tall, branching flower stalks and urn-shaped, red-and-green flowers that dangle from their branches such as small bells. The plants’ strap-shaped leaves are pointed in the finish along with variously decorated with blotches of lighter color and sometimes with whitish tubercles, based on the species. Their leaves are heavier and stiffer than zebra plants’ leaves.
Quite a few zebra plant varieties differ in how different their white banding is and how many tubercles are about their upper leaf surfaces. Some varieties have quite broad white bands, and others have also split tubercles arranged in bands. Besides zebra plants, two additional Haworthias species have tubercles arranged in loose bands on their leaf undersides, but they make a column as they grow. Those two species do not have common names. One of these is Haworthia baccata, that has wider leaves than zebra plants, and its leaves point upwards, which makes the plant about 6 inches tall. It is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 10. Another species is Haworthia coarctata; it’s narrower leaves and much more widely separated tubercles than Haworthia baccata, and it’s perennial in USDA zones 10 through 11.