Haworthia refers to succulent plants in the Asphodelaceae family hailing from South Africa. It is a member of this family native to Riversdale in the Western Cape Province in South Africa. This small, perennial succulent is known by many other names, including Star Cactus, Cushion Aloe, Window succulent, and Aloe retusa. The name Haworthia honors the British botanist Adrian Haworth. Retusa is a Latin term used to denote the ‘retused’ shape of the leaves.
Haworthia retusa is recognized by the characteristics of the leaves, which are distinct. The leaves are triangular and display a thick cushion-like body., often with lines. In addition, they have translucent epidermal windows on the tops of the leaves. Some give it the name Star Cactus due to the shape of the rosettes of fleshy leaves. The plant is 3-4 inches tall and the same in width. Flowers can be seen in late spring or the beginning of summer on a stem that can grow up to 20 inches in height. Tiny, white tubular flowers adorn the top of the stem.
At the base of the plant, the root is thick and woody and can carry a group of plants. Haworthia retusa can withstand harsh conditions, and in their natural habitat, mostly lower hills and flatter terrain, they are commonly found buried in the sand. Only the top of the rosette can be seen above ground in an eye-catching bright green. Bright sunlight brings out the best color in the leaves.
Propagation of Haworthia retusa.
Gardeners love this plant. They are easy to grow as long as the conditions are right. The best way to propagate the plant is by planting offsets. Other options include leaf or stem cuttings, as usually done with succulents. A clean, sharp knife is used to pry away the offset from the mother plant. After carefully trimming the baby plant, it can safely be transplanted into the sandy soil mix. The baby plants should be laid out to dry overnight before introducing to their pots. After planting, the pots should be placed in a sunny, warm spot.
New plants do require watering. The soil has to be allowed to dry out before watering again. The next option is to propagate Haworthia retusa from leaf cuttings. The leaves are cut close to the stem. Allow them to dry overnight, and then plant in potting mix that drains well. A rooting hormone is a good idea at this point. Once planted, the pots can be placed in indirect sunlight.
Haworthias can successfully be grown from seeds. However, sourcing seeds might prove difficult as only specialist dealers of succulents might carry them. These seeds are grown in moist soil and germinate for around a week or two. During this period, the soil must be kept moist.
How to Grow and care for Haworthia retusa.
These succulents add color and glamour to cactus gardens and terrariums and are also ideal for dressing up a window sill. These plants are low-maintenance and add subtle beauty to any indoors and outdoors placement. This is especially true when you have contrasting pebbles as ground cover.
Planting several single plants in a wide dish or a clump of plants in a circular dish are some options for indoor décor ideas. Haworthia retusa does not have to be transplanted regularly as they are slow-growing plants. However, a sufficiently large container can hold many clumps of the plant for the plant’s entire lifetime.
It would help if you transplanted the succulent only when it shows signs of overcrowding or being suffocated for want of more nutrients. Either way, it should be done in springtime or summertime in a sandy soil mix. The many offsets of the Haworthia retusa will grow in individual pots.
Pruning and Maintenance.
The best time to prune and maintain a Haworthia retusa plant is immediately after flowering ends. The small white flowers will wilt. All dried-up parts of the plant should be cleaned, including the dried-out petals of the rosette. This is the only grooming that this succulent will need during its lifetime. With pruning, the general spread of the plant can be managed for the look you want.
Maintenance of these slow-growing, small succulents is easy. It will live in one pot for years. Repotting is required for your Haworthia to replenish the depleted nutrients in the soil. It can be carefully uprooted, excess soil around the roots removed, and the roots trimmed and replanted for healthier plants. Then it can be laid down in the new potting soil, ensuring the roots are entirely covered with the soil. Right after planting, watering can be done.
Cultivars and Hybrids.
Haworthia retusa belongs to a family of succulents that boasts of a relatively large number of varieties. There are around 60 named species and around 150 named varieties. Some of the more recognized varieties are Haworthia retusa var. nigra, Haworthia retusa var. quimutica, and Haworthia retusa var. retusa.
The ‘White Ghost’ is a Haworthia retusa that is highly ornamental. It has a stemless rosette of almost white on a dull green background. The leaves are marked in white lines on the upper side, and the white flowers have green lines. This variegated plant is as easy to grow as the normal Haworthia retusa.
Hybrids are not common, and there is one known hybrid of Haworthia retusa and Haworthia truncata. There is an interesting plant called Haworthia’ Kegani’ from Japan. The coloration is unusual, being chocolatey-green. Its longer and flatter leaves are easily recognized.
Haworthia retusa Light Requirement.
The best light for Haworthia retusa is full sun or bright direct sunlight. The plant will tolerate low sunlight. This, however, does not bring out the best color in them. The plant will thrive in a combination of light shade and bright light in an indoor setting. However, extended periods of the full sun can be harmful regardless of where it is grown. However, it should be noted that the rich, compact leaves sporting bright colors are developed only with ample sunlight. Lack of proper lighting will result in elongated leaves that do not have the same appeal.
A well-draining soil mix works best for Haworthia retusa. A commercially available potting mix for succulents and cacti is recommended for Haworthia retusa plants. However, sand can be added to ensure soil drainage if you use a regular potting mix. The pot used should have drainage holes.
Watering Haworthia retusa.
This is the one activity connected with Haworthia retusa that challenges the gardener. Being succulent, this plant does not require frequent watering. Over-watering is a common mistake that can be fatal to the plant. Even during the summer months, watering should be done sparingly. Allow the soil to dry out before watering each time. During the winter months, watering can be done once a month or even longer intervals.
Temperature and Humidity.
This succulent does not tolerate cold temperatures and cannot survive freezing winters. Thus, you find it successfully grown indoors and under various conditions indoors. However, Haworthia retusa plants dislike extreme conditions such as intense sunlight, harsh winds, freezing temperatures, and frost. Therefore, bringing it indoors during colder weather is recommended.
Fertilizers and Feeding.
A cactus fertilizer can be helpful to young plants during the summer. However, in winter, the plants do not require additional feeding.
Managing Pests and Diseases of Haworthia retusa.
The most common disease that strikes a Haworthia retusa plant is root rot due to over-watering. Another indicator that the plant is getting more water than is needed is leaves that turn yellow. Stop watering and wait for the soil to dry out. Then, the leaves should turn green again. Another common problem with this succulent is its sensitivity to frost.
The mealybug is the only known pest to trouble this super succulent. They can easily be removed by hand or brushed away with an alcohol-based rub. Soap water (not too strong) is also a remedy for mealy bug infestation seen as a white powder in and around the leaves and stems.
Best Uses of Haworthia retusa.
This is widely used in both indoor and outdoor gardens. The beautiful shiny leaves resembling fluffy cushions add a rich look to any garden. It is also popular as a window sill plant grown as a single plant or as a cluster of tiny plants. Wide varieties of this plant have different shapes, colors, and sizes. Thus, using them enhances a garden, a terrarium, or a window sill. They are also ideal as fillers because of their compact sizes. When grown with other varieties of succulents, they blend in rather than overshadow them.
This plant has given succulent enthusiasts their start in the world of succulents. The plant is low-maintenance, which makes it a popular choice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Is Haworthia easy to care for?
Yes, Hawaorthia retusa is a hardy plant and is easy to care for. All you need to do is to water sparingly or only when the soil is dry. Keeping the plant in a place with ample sunlight brings out the best color of the leaves.
Where does Haworthia grow in South Africa?
Haworthia is a native of South Africa. It is found in the low flat terrain in Riversdale in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
Why is Haworthia retusa called Star Cactus?
The shape of the rosette and the Leaves resemble a star. This is emphasized by the leaves being fluffy and pillow-like with shiny translucent quality on the upper side.
What does Haworthia look like?
Haworthia is a small plant. It is 3-4 inches in height and may grow with a spread of about 4-5 inches. The leaves are lime green and can also be found in other colors like pinky-green, orange hues, and chocolatey-green leaves. The leaves are about 3 inches in length and 1 inch in width.
Do Haworthia retusa need sun or shade?
This succulent needs bright sunlight for at least a few hours a day. However, it does grow in the shade. Therefore, it is also grown as a window sill display plant.
What are Haworthia retusa good for?
Haworthia retusa is a good choice for indoor planting in pots or under glass. The plant also enhances garden designs when mixed with other cactus plants. It is used as a filler for displays.
How do you take care of a Haworthia retusa plant?
Haworthia retusa plants do not need complicated caring routines. Watering only when the soil shows signs of drying out is good enough for this plant. After that, ample sunlight is a must. This succulent will live in the same pot for years. You can add fertilizer to the plant once a year when you trim the plant after flowering. Repotting is another way to replenish the soil with nutrients.
Is a Haworthia retusa an indoor or outdoor plant?
Haworthia is grown indoors as well as outdoors. In its native habitat, the plant grows in sandy soil under direct sunlight or in areas where direct sunlight is available for at least a few hours a day. The plant grows easily outdoors.
How to care for a Haworthia?
- See that the plant gets bright indirect or direct sunlight. This is essential for it to thrive.
- Watering once in 2-3 weeks is sufficient for this plant. Allow soil to dry out between watering.
- Not too much humidity and no frost conditions are best.
- Keep the plant properly trimmed and clean of dead leaves.
- Look out for mealybugs or other insects that are liable to infest the plant and remove them. An insecticide will also help.
How do you enhance the look of the Haworthia retusa?
The plant is a beautiful one, and it should have terracotta or a similar pot. The top of the soil can be covered with pebbles to bring the plant shape out. Mixing with other plants of different shapes and sizes also brings out the plant’s color.
How often should you water a haworthia Retusa?
For the best plant results, water a haworthia Retusa when the soil is dry to a depth of 1 inch. You should water your haworthia Retusa more often in the summer, and less often in the winter.
Is haworthia Retusa plant a cactus?
No, haworthia Retusa is not a cactus.