How to Grow Haworthia

haworthia succulent and watering can

The Spruce

Haworthia is a large genus of small succulent plants, most of them native to South Africa. They are generally lumped under the common name Hawthoria, though different species may carry other common names. These plants are delightful little succulents that make attractive small houseplants. Potted plants are often moved outdoors for the summer months, and in regions without frost, they are sometimes grown as garden plants.

These small, low-growing plants form rosettes of fleshy green leaves that are generously covered with white pearly warts or bands, giving them a distinctive appearance. Generally easy to grow, the same best practices that yield healthy aloe and echeveria plants will also produce beautiful Haworthia plants. These plants are often purchased as potted specimens and are best planted in the spring or early summer. Like many succulents, they are fairly slow-growing plants.

Common Name Haworthia, zebra cactus, pearl plant, star window plant, cushion aloe
Botanical Name Haworthia
Family Asphodelaceae
Plant Type Succulent, perennial
Mature Size 3–5 in. tall and wide; some species can reach 20 in. tall
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Sandy, well-drained
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 9–11, USA
Native Area Africa
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Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for a Haworthia Plant

Haworthia Care

Like other succulents, these plants appreciate bright light and adequate moisture in the summer with relatively drier conditions in the winter. Avoid overwatering, but don’t let them dry out completely. Also, plan to fertilize in the spring and summer months when the plant is actively growing.

Outdoors, Haworthias generally do best in slightly sheltered locations rather than in full sunlight. Moreover, they are not a difficult houseplant to grow. If you can keep a pot of aloe alive on a windowsill, chances are you can do the same with Haworthia. They can be grown in a variety of containers, including teacups and even miniature baby shoes. But the container must have adequate drainage.

closeup of a haworthia succulent
The Spruce

Light

Haworthia species like bright light but not exceptionally strong direct sunlight. In their native environment, they are often found in the slight shade of a rock or other object. They can handle direct morning sun, but harsh afternoon rays can burn their foliage. White, red, or yellow leaves usually signifies too much sun. But if a plant isn't getting enough light, its green color will fade. Indoors, Haworthias do best near an east- or west-facing window.

Soil

These plants like a sandy or gravelly soil with sharp drainage. Use a cactus potting mix or another very fast-draining potting soil for container plants. To improve soil drainage, you can mix the soil with perlite, aquarium gravel, or pumice.

Water

Water whenever the top inch of soil has dried out during the spring and summer months, but make sure the soil is never waterlogged for a prolonged period. In the fall and winter, reduce watering to just enough to keep the leaves plump. Never allow water to collect in the rosette, as this can lead to rot.

Temperature and Humidity

Haworthia species like warm temperatures between roughly 70 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and cool temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. They can get a freezing injury at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity isn't an issue for this plant as long as its soil moisture needs are met. What it does require is good ventilation, especially at night when it takes in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.

Fertilizer

Fertilize haworthia during the spring and summer growing season with a cactus fertilizer, following label instructions. Don't feed during the fall and winter.

Types of Hawthoria

There are more than 100 species of Haworthia, but their classification can be complex. The main difference among the common species is the size of the leaves and the orientation of the white markings on the leaves. In general, the best advice is to buy the most attractive variety to you based on leaf form and markings, as they all have similar cultural requirements. Some popular species include:

  • H. margaritifera has warty white projections on the leaves.
  • H. fasciata features horizontal white stripes and is sometimes called the zebra Haworthia.
  • H. bolusii has "tufted" edges to the leaves.
  • H. attenuata features long pointed green leaves.

Propagating Hawthoria

Haworthia plants can be propagated at repotting time via offsets, or tiny new plants growing from the base of the parent plant. This is a cost-effective way to get new plants, and it prevents the parent plant from becoming overcrowded with offsets.

When taking offsets, use a sharp knife or snippers to cut as close to the parent stem as possible and include as many roots as possible. Then, allow the offsets to dry for about a day before repotting. Plant the offsets in a small pot using the same type of soil that the parent plant was in.

Potting and Repotting Haworthia

Haworthias are small plants (usually remaining between 3 and 5 inches tall), and they are relatively slow-growing. They are often grown in small clusters in wide, shallow dishes. But they also can be planted individually in containers. A small unglazed clay container is ideal because it will allow excess soil moisture to escape through its walls. Drainage holes in the container also are key.

Over time, clusters will naturally enlarge as the parent plant sends out offsets. A cluster will typically outgrow its container every three to five years. Repot in the spring to early summer. Either use a wider container with fresh potting mix, or split up the cluster into separate containers. Even when a larger container isn't necessary, a plant will often benefit from being repotted in the same container with fresh soil every three to five years.

Common Pests

Haworthias are free of most pests with one common exception: mealybugs. These small, oval insects that suck the juice out of the foliage can be controlled by simple physical removal or with an insecticidal spray. Also, if the soil is kept too moist, you might have problems with fungus gnats. Remedying the moisture conditions is often all you need to do to combat this problem.

Common Problems With Haworthia

Haworthias are pretty hardy plants as long as they are grown in their ideal conditions. But issues with their environment can result in a few common problems.

Drooping Leaves

Leaves drooping or shriveling can be the result of underwatering. But more commonly they are actually a sign of overwatering and subsequent root rot. Soggy soil can kill the roots, so ultimately the plant won't be able to get moisture and nutrients to its leaves. Make sure you are only watering once some of the soil has dried out, and never leave your plant in waterlogged soil.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellow leaves on haworthia are often a sign of too much sun, as are red or white leaves. Move your plant to a slightly shadier spot—but not full shade—and see whether that corrects the problem.

FAQ
  • Does haworthia need full sun?

    Haworthia likes bright light and does well with direct morning sun. However, strong afternoon sun can be too much for the plant and burn its foliage.

  • Is haworthia easy to grow?

    Haworthia is an easy plant to grow both outdoors in its hardiness zones and indoors in a container. Its watering and feeding needs are simple and not time-consuming.

  • How fast does haworthia grow?

    Haworthia is a relatively slow-grower, and most species remain small.