Lifesaver Cactus

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  • Unique Appearance
  • Light Preference/Tolerated (Bright Direct Light, Bright Indirect Light)
  • Below Average Watering Needs
  • Cactus Soil
  • Mature Height 6-8 Inches

The Lifesaver Cactus (Huernia zebrina) is a low-maintenance plant that is actually not a cactus at all, but a member of the milkweed family. This succulent has thick, green stems lined with soft teeth, giving it its cactus-like appearance. The Lifesaver Cactus gets its name from its unique star-shaped blooms, with five zebra-striped petals surrounding a plump rubbery circular center that looks like a Lifesaver candy. This plant’s low water needs and minimal maintenance make it a great windowsill plant or addition to a succulent planter. 

Best Locations For Growing Lifesaver Cactus

Similar to cacti and succulents, the Lifesaver Cactus thrives in bright light, though it should be protected from intense afternoon light in the summer. Place this plant in a bright kitchen windowsill, add it to a succulent or cactus planter for a different texture, or hang it in a window planter. Like other members of the milkweed family, the Lifesaver Cactus contains latex and is therefore considered toxic. Place it out of reach of children and pets. 

Lifesaver Cactus Sunlight Requirements

Lifesaver Cactus will do best when placed in bright direct to bright indirect light. These plants can handle a bit of direct sunlight and do well in east- and west-facing windows. In west- and south-facing windows, provide a bit of shade in the afternoon to prevent the stems from burning. When exposed to direct sunlight, the green stems can turn a reddish-brown color. When placed too far from a light source, Lifesaver Cactus tends to stretch, losing its compact shape. 

Lifesaver Cactus Care

The most common issue that can be encountered with the Lifesaver Cactus is yellowing stems due to improper watering or lighting. This succulent prefers to remain in a small pot, limiting the amount of excess soil surrounding its roots and allowing the plant to dry out in between waterings. The Lifesaver Cactus will need to be repotted rarely, preferring to stay in the same pot for years. If repotting is necessary, choose a pot with drainage holes that is only slightly larger than the previous. Use a cactus soil when repotting. 

Watering Lifesaver Cactus

The Lifesaver Cactus stores water in its plump green stems, enabling it to go quite some time before needing water. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering deeply until water is coming out the drainage holes and the soil is retaining water. Like other succulents, the Lifesaver’s thick stems will become soft and bendable when the plant is ready for water as it taps into the water stored in its stems. The frequency of water will depend on how much light the Lifesaver Cactus gets, though it will likely need water about once every couple of weeks to a month in the spring and summer. Taper back on watering in the winter as the plant slows its growth.

Feeding Lifesaver Cactus

The Lifesaver Cactus benefits from fertilizer in the spring and summer months while the plant is actively growing. Once a month, add a liquid cactus or succulent fertilizer into your watering routine, taking care to follow dilution instructions to avoid damaging the plant’s roots. Fertilizing is not necessary in the winter as the plant’s growth rate will be slowed.

Lifesaver Cactus Information

Light Exposure: Bright Direct Light, Bright Indirect Light
Care Requirements: Easy
Watering Requirements: Below Average - Let the soil dry completely, then, water deeply.
Pet Friendly: No
Kid Friendly: No
Air Purifier: Moderate
Habit: Upright
Growth Rate: Slow
Mature Height: 6-8 inches
Mature Spread: 6 inches
Flowering: Yes
Flower Color(s): Brown, Red
Flower Shade/Description: Burgundy and Tan Star-Shaped Flowers
Fragrant: Yes
Foliage Type:
Foliage Color(s): Green
Foliage Description: Deeply Green
Temperature: 50° - 80°F (10° - 27°C)
Humidity: Below Average to Average (20% - 60%)
Common Name: Lifesaver Cactus
Other Name(s): Lifesaver Cactus
Scientific Name: Huernia insigniflora
Plant Type: House Plant

Container Sizes

Please Note: The pictures below are to give a general representation of the different container sizes. The actual size/ages of plants are estimates and will vary based on; type of plant, time of year, last pruning & many other factors.

4.5 Pot

4.5" Pot
 Also Know As:
   4.5" Container

 Plant Age:
   ~ 6 months
 Plant Size:
   ~ 3"-6"
 Pot Size:
   ~ 4.5"H x 3.75"W
   1.42 quarts

Quart Pot

Quart Pot
 Also Know As:

 Plant Age:
   ~ 1 year old
 Plant Size:
   ~ 4"-8"
 Pot Size:
   ~ 4.75"H x 4.5"W
   1.50 quarts

2.5 Quart

2.5 Quart
 Also Know As:
   2.5 Quart Pot

 Plant Age:
   ~ 1.5 year old
 Plant Size:
   ~ 8"-12"
 Pot Size:
   ~ 6.5"H x 6.5"W
   2.20-2.30 quarts

#1 Pot

#1 Pot
 Also Know As:
   #1 Container
    1 Gallon
 Plant Age:
   ~ 2 year old
 Plant Size:
   ~ 10"-14"
 Pot Size:
   ~ 7"H x 7.75"W
   2.26-3.73 quarts

#2 Pot

#2 Pot
 Also Know As:
   #2 Container
    2 Gallon
 Plant Age:
   ~ 2-3 year old
 Plant Size:
   ~ 12"-18"
 Pot Size:
   ~ 9.5"H x 9.5"W
   1.19-1.76 gallons

#3 Pot

#3 Pot
 Also Know As:
   #3 Container
    3 Gallon
 Plant Age:
   ~ 3-4 year old
 Plant Size:
   ~ 12"-30"
 Pot Size:
   ~9.5"H x 11"W
   2.32-2.76 gallons

For more detailed information, please click here.

Plant Addict Guarantee (Included On All Plant Orders)

Plant Addicts guarantees your plant(s) will arrive happy and healthy, but the plant(s) are being shipped through the mail and accidents happen. If the plant is dead, has dried out roots or the incorrect item was shipped just notify Plant Addicts within 3 days upon delivery. We may ask for pictures but will try to make it as easy as possible for you. Please note plant(s) with damaged branches or wilted leaves will not qualify for this guarantee. Plants are very resilient and will rebound quickly when cared for correctly.

For information on how to care for you new plant please check out our guide. Guide: How to Care for Your New Plant(s)

Plant Addicts Warranty - 1 Year (Extra Purchase Required)

We encourage all plant lovers to purchase the Plant Addicts Warranty whether you’re new or an expert. There are many variables outside our control and yours that can cause the demise of your plant(s). Examples would be hungry animals, drought, poor soil conditions, over watering, disease, insects & many other factors. The Plant Addicts Warranty is a 1 year warranty protecting you from all the unknowns and will replace your plant if it moves on to the plant afterlife.

The warranty is purchased on a per plant basis and must be purchased at the same time as the plant purchase. We will cover 100% of the price of the plant but the warranty does not cover shipping cost. Simply let us know if your plant has died within one year of receiving it and we’ll get you a new one shipped out. We may ask for photos for documentation purposes but again we’ll try to make it as easy as possible.

For more information, please go to our Shipping & Returns page at the bottom of the website.

Guide: How to Care for Your New Plant(s)

Planter Shipping

Standard Colors: 2-3 business days

Special Order Colors: 8 weeks - this is due to the planter being custom made with the color(s) of your choice

Please Note: On special orders there can not be any cancellations

Plant Shipping

Time of Order:

Summer Shipping

  • If there is extreme heat we’ll delay shipping.  
    • We’ll have to review what areas the plants are traveling through along with your location

Once your plant is shipped you’ll receive an email with tracking information. Depending on the above criteria we’ll ship your plant(s) towards beginning of the following week from your order. We put together this helpful guide of what to do when you receive your plants in the mail.

It is important to know that all of our plants are clearly labeled for which growing zones the plant can survive in. The plants are thoroughly trialed and tested in every growing zone before we state the plant can grow in a zone. Again, our #1 priority is to ship the plants to you healthy and ready to thrive in your location. So we will do everything in our power to do so.