Haworthia Care Guide. To grow these lovely succulents successfully, the first step is choosing the right Haworthia species or cultivar.
With over 80 diverse species to choose from, it can be tricky to decide which variety is best for your specific needs and growing conditions.
In this section, we will look at popular Haworthias for growing at home. We will also discuss important things to think about when deciding which one to choose.
Appearance and Growth Habits
Haworthias have a similar look with their rosette shape and fleshy, pointed leaves. However, they can vary in size, leaf patterns, and overall form a lot.
Some of the most common Haworthias grown as houseplants include:
Haworthia attenuata – Recognizable by its stubby, green leaves with raised white bands. One of the easiest and most prolific Haworthias. Grows in a small, compact rosette.
Haworthia limifolia – Striking translucent leaves with raised white bands. Leaves are triangular and grow in a spiral pattern. Rosettes remain relatively small.
Haworthia cooperi – Distinctive tubercles cover the leaves of this species. Rosettes stay compact and plants multiply readily through offsets.
Haworthia retusa – Thick triangular leaves have a heavily textured appearance. Grows larger than many species. Tolerates lower light conditions.
Haworthia fasciata – Iconic Haworthia species with smooth, green leaves banded by raised white lines. Rosettes grow up to 5 inches wide. Prolific offset production.
While tiny varieties like H. pygmaea stay under 2 inches in diameter, larger species such as H. magnifica can reach widths of over 12 inches when mature. Growth habits also vary – some produce offsets sparingly while others, like H. attenuata, will quickly form dense clumps.
Getting the Soil Mix Right
Having an appropriate potting mix is absolutely critical for growing healthy Haworthias and avoiding common issues like rot and edema. While these succulents prefer a porous, fast-draining soil, creating the right blend can be tricky. This section will explore recommended soil components and ratios so you can pot your Haworthias in an ideal medium.
The Role of Soil Porosity
Haworthias demand a loose, porous soil that drains quickly after watering. Their fleshy roots easily rot if left sitting in wet soil for too long. A dense, moisture-retentive mix can also lead to edema – unsightly blisters on the leaves caused by taking up water faster than the roots can absorb it.
To avoid these problems, you need a soil blend that strikes a balance between water retention and drainage. It should hold just enough moisture between waterings while still allowing excess water to drain freely from the roots.
Soil Ingredients and Ratios
Here are some key ingredients to use in your custom Haworthia soil mix:
Perlite or pumice – These porous minerals lighten the soil texture and improve drainage. Aim for 25-50% of the total volume.
Coarse sand – Sand particles create air pockets for drainage. 20-30% is ideal. Avoid fine sand that compacts easily.
Organic matter – Compost, coco coir, bark chips, etc. hold some moisture and provide nutrients. 10-20% is sufficient.
Gritty potting mix – Use a cactus/succulent soil as the base. Look for brands with perlite, sand and coconut coir.
For most Haworthias, a mix of 1 part potting soil, 1 part perlite or pumice, and 1 part sand or gravel works well. Adjust ratios based on your climate and the needs of specific species. Heavily textured varieties may require more perlite for adequate drainage.
Getting Water Retention Right
It can take some trial and error to find the ideal balance of moisture retention and porosity. If water drains too quickly, add a bit more potting soil or coco coir. If the mix stays soggy, increase perlite and sand proportions.
Feel the soil before and after watering to gauge moisture levels. Adjust components over time to create an optimal blend. With the right soil porosity, you can avoid the pitfalls of overwatering.
Proper watering technique is vital for growing healthy Haworthias. Understanding how these succulents store water in their leaves and when to thoroughly soak the soil is key to avoiding common issues like rot, edema, and dehydration. This section will explore tips on watering correctly along with signs of over and under-watering.
Water Storage in Haworthia Leaves
Haworthias have thick, swollen leaves adapted to store water for long periods. Tiny pores on the leaves called stomata take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen and water vapor. When water is scarce, the plants close their stomata to conserve moisture within. This helps them withstand drought conditions in the wild.
However, the water storage capacity of the leaves means you can’t rely on visual cues or surface soil dryness to gauge water needs. Haworthia soils must dry out completely before soaking again.
Soaking Thoroughly Then Allowing Soil To Dry
When growing Haworthias, your watering mantra should be “soak and dry.” Wait until the soil is 100% dry all the way through the pot before watering. Test with your finger or use a moisture meter if unsure.
When you do water, drench the entire soil mass until water drains freely from the bottom drainage holes. This encourages stronger root development. Then allow the soil to fully dry out again before repeating.
During cooler months, Haworthias may only need water every 3-4 weeks. In warmer weather, aim for every 10-14 days if soil is fast draining. Adjust as needed based on your environment.
Signs of Under and Over-Watering
Pay close attention for visible cues that indicate whether you are watering too much or too little:
Under-watering signs – Wrinkled, thinning leaves. Soil pulls away from pot edges. New growth stunted.
Over-watering signs – Mushy leaves or bases, rotting roots. Blisters, scars or edema on leaves. Mold growth.
Adjust your watering frequency and volume based on these signs. Ideal technique mimics Haworthia native habitats with infrequent but deep soakings.
Providing the Right Light
Lighting conditions are critical for Haworthias to thrive and showcase their unique leaf markings. While most prefer bright, indirect light, proper acclimation and adjustments are needed to prevent scorching. This section will explore ideal light levels along with techniques to control intensity.
Preferred Brightness Levels
In their native habitat, most Haworthias grow in partial shade or dappled sunlight. Translating these conditions indoors takes some finesse. Aim for a brightly lit spot protected from direct sun rays.
South or West facing windows work well. Sheer curtains or frosted glass filters the harshness. If light is limited, consider supplementing with grow lights. LED plant bulbs provide full spectrum illumination without excessive heat.
Acclimating to Increased Brightness
Regardless of origin, all Haworthias need gradual introduction to increased light levels. Start new plants in low to moderate light. Over 2-4 weeks, slowly transition to brighter conditions.
Watch closely for signs of light stress like yellowing or scorched patches. Adjust duration and intensity based on reactions. With the proper acclimation, most Haworthias tolerate 4-6 hours of direct sun.
Preventing Leaf Scorch
Leaf scorch occurs when light intensity exceeds what the plant can handle. The leaf tips brown, shrivel and die. To avoid this:
Keep Haworthias out of hot, afternoon sun. East or North facing windows work well.
Use sheer curtains, frosted film, or shade cloth to filter direct rays.
Provide ample air circulation to prevent magnified heat buildup.
Move plants to lower light if scorching occurs and re-acclimate gradually.
For Haworthias growing entirely under artificial light, LED grow lights are ideal. Select full spectrum bulbs that provide bright, diffuse illumination. Keep lights 6-12 inches above the plants. Start with 8-10 hours daily and adjust as needed. Rotate plants frequently for even coverage.
Ideal Light Conditions
Determining the amount of light your Haworthia needs is another key consideration. Most species thrive in bright, indirect light. Varieties with translucent leaves like H. limifolia demand the highest light to maintain their eye-catching colors. More robust types such as H. retusa can adapt to lower light.
Acclimate all new plants gradually to avoid sunburn. Provide ample sunlight but use sheer curtains to filter harsh afternoon rays. Watch for signs of stress like faded leaf color or scorched patches, and adjust lighting as needed.
Haworthias thrive in warm conditions but can suffer if exposed to temperature extremes for too long. Monitoring ambient temperature and providing heating or cooling as needed will prevent stress and encourage healthy growth. This section explores ideal temperature ranges along with challenges and solutions for maintaining optimal conditions.
Preferred Temperature Zone
In their native South Africa, most Haworthias experience hot summers and mild winters. They grow best with average temperatures between 65-80°F. Prolonged exposure below 50°F or above 90°F can impact growth and vitality.
Indoors, aim to keep Haworthias in their favored temperature zone. Position plants away from hot radiators or cold drafts. Adequate air circulation prevents excess heat buildup in the leaves.
Protecting from Extreme Cold
While they can tolerate short periods of cold, freezing temperatures damage Haworthias. Signs of cold stress include shriveled, discolored leaves and stunted growth.
In areas with cold winters, provide heating to maintain temperatures above 50°F. Move plants away from drafty windows or insulate window panes. Grow lights also generate gentle warmth.
Preventing Heat Damage
Excessive heat causes rapid moisture loss. Leaves turn yellowish and wrinkled when dehydrated. Prolonged heat exposure can permanently scar leaves.
During hot summers, shade Haworthias from direct sun. Good air flow prevents leaf overheating. Mist plants on extremely hot days or place pots on cooled trays. Avoid hot outdoor locations.
Regulating Indoor Conditions
Indoors, ambient temperature and humidity tend to be static year-round. This can lead to etiolation (stretched growth) as Haworthias seek more light.
Supplemental lighting compensates for low indoor light. Gentle air circulation prevents stagnant conditions. Monitor for pests attracted to stable environments.
With attentive monitoring and appropriate adjustments, Haworthias can thrive indoors despite relatively unchanging conditions.
Factor in the specific care needs of the Haworthia species you select. Certain types have higher humidity requirements or may not tolerate temperature swings as well as others. Research to find varieties best suited to the growing conditions you can provide.
Selecting the right Haworthia for your environment and preferences will give your plant the best chance of thriving. If you care for these succulents well, you’ll enjoy unique textures and patterns for years.
Haworthias multiply readily through offsets and leaf cuttings. These succulents are simple to propagate at home with proper technique. This section will explore recommended methods for propagation along with aftercare for new plants.
Propagation by Offsets
Many Haworthias produce offshoots or “pups” from the main stem. These offsets have their own root system but are still attached to the parent plant.
Wait until offsets are at least 1/3 the size of the parent plant.
Carefully detach with a sterile knife. Keep some roots intact.
Allow to dry 3-7 days until the cut calluses over.
Pot in well-draining soil. Do not water until new growth appears.
Gradually introduce to brighter light. Keep soil slightly drier than normal until established.
Offset propagation is quick and easy. But it does reduce the size of the parent plant temporarily.
Propagation by Leaf Cuttings
You can also propagate Haworthia by taking leaf cuttings:
Select a healthy outer leaf. Use a sterile blade to detach it at the base.
Allow the cut end to dry and callus for 2-3 days.
Place the leaf right-side up on potting mix. Bury the lower 1/3 of leaf into soil.
Keep soil slightly dry while new roots and rosettes form over 2-4 weeks.
Separate new plantlets once they have 2-3 leaves. Pot up individually.
Leaf cuttings work for most Haworthia species. But propagation success can vary. Be patient and try with multiple leaves.
Aftercare for New Plants
Once potted, provide the same care as mature Haworthias. Gradually transition to normal light and watering once established. Propagated plants may start smaller but catch up over time.
In a few seasons, your new Haworthia pups will mature into full-sized specimens ready to propagate again!
Repotting Mature Plants
As Haworthias grow over time, they will eventually outgrow their containers and require repotting. Repotting gives the plants fresh soil and allows the roots to spread into a larger space. This section will cover when repotting is needed, transitioning to grittier soil mixes, and ideal pot sizes for mature Haworthias.
Signs It’s Time to Repot
Indicators that your Haworthia needs repotting include:
Roots growing out of the drainage holes
Plant appearing too large for the pot
Soil drying out very quickly between waterings
Stunted growth and lack of new offsets
For mature plants, repotting every 2-3 years is common. But the timing depends on growth rate and pot size.
Transitioning to Grittier Soil
When repotting, it’s beneficial to transition Haworthias to a grittier, more porous soil mix over time. This is especially important for top-heavy, mature plants.
A blend of equal parts potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand or gravel provides the ideal balance of moisture retention and drainage.
You can transition gradually by adding more perlite and less organic matter each time you repot.
Choosing an Appropriate Pot Size
The new container should be 2-4 inches wider than the current pot. This allows ample room for growth while keeping the plant a manageable size.
For prolific offsetters like H. attenuata, use a wider, shallower pot to accommodate their spreading growth habit.
Terra cotta and plastic pots work well. Make sure pots have drainage holes to prevent soggy soil.
With a larger container and fresh growing medium, your repotted Haworthia will establish quickly and continue thriving!
Common Pests & Diseases
While generally quite hardy when provided proper care, Haworthias can fall victim to certain insect pests and fungal diseases. Being able to identify and treat infestations early makes all the difference. This section covers the most likely pests and diseases along with prevention and treatment.
These small, sap-sucking insects thrive in warm, dry environments. Heavy infestations stunt plant growth and deform leaves.
Check leaf axils, joints, and soil surface for white fuzzy masses. Use a soft brush and soapy water to scrub off pests. Apply insecticidal soap spray as needed.
These tiny flying insects indicate overly damp soil. Larvae feed on roots and can spread fungal diseases.
Allow soil to dry completely between waterings. Place yellow sticky traps nearby to monitor populations. Use a soil drench of Bacillus thuringiensis to kill larvae.
A close relative of mealybugs, root mealies form cottony masses on roots and lower stems. Plants often decline slowly.
Inspect rootball and soil for white fuzzy patches. Severely infected plants may need to be discarded. Improve soil drainage to deter future attacks.
This fungal infection causes leaves to yellow and wilt. Plants fail to thrive and may die from the base up.
Avoid overhead watering and improve air flow. Remove and destroy infected plants immediately. Sterilize pots before reuse.
Crown or Root Rot
Several fungal pathogens cause rotting at the base of the plant. Leaves turn brown or slimy gray.
Discard infected plants promptly. Allow soil to dry between waterings and use sterile tools when propagating.
With prompt identification and treatment, most Haworthia pests and diseases can be successfully managed. Prevention through proper cultural care is always the best policy!
Haworthias are small succulents that people find delightful. However, their specific needs can sometimes confuse growers. In this section, we answer common questions about taking care of Haworthias to clear up any confusion.
How much light do Haworthias need?
Most Haworthias thrive in bright, indirect sunlight for 4-6 hours daily. Varieties with translucent leaves like H. limifolia demand very bright light to maintain their colors. Shelter all plants from hot midday sun which can scorch leaves.
Should I mist my Haworthias?
Misting is not generally needed for these succulents. In fact, excess moisture on leaves can lead to rot in some species. Just water thoroughly at the soil level while allowing the top inch of soil to dry between waterings.
How often should I fertilize?
Haworthias are light feeders. During the growing season from spring through summer, use a half-strength balanced liquid fertilizer once a month. Avoid fertilizing in fall and winter when plants are dormant.
Why are the leaves turning brown or mushy?
Discolored, mushy leaves indicate rot due to overwatering or excess moisture. Allow soils to dry completely between waterings. Remove damaged leaves promptly and assess if the rot has spread to the main plant.
Should I cut off the dead leaves?
Yes, removing spent leaves keeps plants looking tidy and prevents disease issues. Use a sterile blade and cut leaves at the base. Don’t pull leaves off forcefully as this can damage the main rosette.