Species Spotlight ~ Haworthia! Exceptional Indoor Succulent

All About Growing Haworthia

Haworthia, (Hah-WOR-thee-uh) often called the zebra plant, the pearl plant or star window plant (for certain varieties), is a variety of small, rosette-forming succulent plants within a rather large family. There are over 70 names species and varieties of haworthia in cultivation. Related to the aloes they often resemble, haworthia are slow-growing succulents with highly decorative foliage and low light needs. This makes them the perfect indoor succulent plants.

Haworthia fasciata - the pearl plant

As Thanksgiving approaches, and the weather turns cold, it is a good time to take a closer look at succulent varieties that truly thrive in the lower light conditions found in most homes.

{Please note, some links in this post may be affiliate links to sites that pay me a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. This commission is at absolutely no cost to you. I only recommend products and companies that I have worked with and truly love! ~Kat}

Zebra Succulent

Haworthia fasciata - the zebra cactus

Haworthia are native to southern Africa. Most varieties are fairly small, just 1-4 inches across, though a few get as large as 12 inches in diameter. The leaves are fascinating, often speckled and spotted with bright white bumps or warts called “tubercles”. Some varieties, like the h. fasciata above, have dark green leaves with many tubercles arranged in stripes, giving rise to the common name of zebra plant or zebra cactus. These varieties typically have tough, fleshy leaves. Other haworthia have a very cool adaptation for optimizing the plant’s absorption of sunlight in challenging conditions.


Haworthia Window Plant

Haworthia obtusa x venusta - star window plant

Some varieties, like the H. obtusa x venusta shown above, have structures called “leaf windows”. These give an intriguing appearance of glass to the plants’ leaves. Leaf windows are translucent structures on the outside of the leaves that allow sunlight to penetrate the leaf before reaching the chlorophyll that photosynthesizes the light into nutrition for the plant. These varieties are often called the star window plant, or crystal ball succulent. These plants tend to grow in arid locations, where the plants often grow partially under the soil to protect them from drying out. These glass-like window leaves enable the plant to optimize the amount of light entering the leaf and encountering the chlorophyll, with photosynthesis occurring below ground. The water stored in the fleshy leaves further refracts and absorbs the light. This makes the glassy appearance even more pronounced. The size and location of the leaf windows vary widely from one species to the next. Many of the known plants that feature window leaves are native to southern Africa.

Flowers

haworthia flowers

Haworthia do produce simple flowers, though some plants may go years between bloomings while others seem to be flowering nearly year round. The blooms are typically dainty and appear largely similar throughout the genus.


Planting Haworthia

haworthia cuspidata variegata displays window leaf

All varieties of haworthia will thrive in containers. Outdoors, they are typically hardy zones 8B through 11, able to withstand temperatures down to 20° in the winter. Haworthia will thrive in indoor conditions year-round. Their adaptations to low light levels mean they are typically quite happy with the indoor lighting. Their slow growth habit means their care, as well as size, remains nicely consistent.

Succulent Soil

succulent soil ensures haworthia success

Like most succulents, haworthia need fast draining soil with large, gritty particles that allow for plenty of oxygen in the soil around the roots. There are many recipes for succulent soil, or simply purchase soil marketed for citrus, palms or cactus for an excellent solution. To learn more about succulents’ specific soil needs, click here. Replant and refresh the soil every three years to ensure your haworthia have sufficient nutrients available to them.


Watering Haworthia

water droplet on haworthia leaf

Like most succulents, haworthia do not like to sit in wet soil. In general, plan to water only every few weeks, when the soil is fully dry. Always water from the bottom and saturate the soil. Empty any catch tray within a few minutes to allow it to dry well. Indoors, especially in the winter, you will only water your haworthia once every 3-4 weeks. The proper watering for your succulents is so important, please read here all about watering your succulent plants.

Fertilize lightly just twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. I like to use fish emulsion for my succulent plants.


Lighting for Haworthia

haworthia - star window plant needs proper lighting

Your haworthia will be happy with general indoor lighting year-round. Outdoors, bright, indirect light is best. Haworthia leaves are prone to sunburn if exposed to too much direct sunlight. Their petite size and slow growth also make haworthia ideal plants for terrariums.

Shopping for Haworthia

Haworthia’s adaptations to low lighting make them perfect for growing indoors this winter. Mountain Crest Gardens, one of my favorite succulent suppliers, offers a wealth of haworthia available for you to order – 40 varieties of haworthia in addition to a wide array of other succulents and cactus! If you are in a colder region, I encourage you to include a heat pack in your order – it will emit heat for 72 hours to help to protect your succulents from the cold in transit. Set up a spot protected from the cold for the delivery person to stash your succulent packages.  [Please note, as described above, I have an affiliate relationship with Mountain Crest Gardens.]

Haworthia koelmaniorum - dark purple haworthia plant

I hope you have enjoyed this deep dive into haworthia. I would love to know – do you already grow them? Will you give these little gems a try? Please take a moment to leave a comment and let me know! And feel free to ask me any questions – I am happy to help!

Happy gardening!

Kat McCarthy, The Succulent Eclectic

P.S. I hope you will subscribe to The Succulent Eclectic! Thanks! 🙂

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haworthia - guide to perfect indoor succulent plants

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14 thoughts on “Species Spotlight ~ Haworthia! Exceptional Indoor Succulent”

  1. Thanks for the terrific post! I love houseplants – I currently am growing 14 plants in my home. I would love to add a couple of these glassy window haworthia you have shown and described. But I am not finding any online, even at the store you mentioned. Lots of haworthia, but not these glassy types. Can you help me to find some?
    Thx

    1. Hi Jenn,
      Wow! Sounds like you have a growing jungle indoors! 🙂 SO cool! My home is very dark – I have always longed for a home with lots of plants indoors as well as out. I’d love to see a picture of yours!
      The window pane hawaorthia ARE hard to find. In my experience, getting cuttings or leaves to propagate from someone who has one has been my best method… I know there are Facebook groups and other online forums like Houzz that have plant swaps – I would check there.
      Mountain Crest Gardens has some window pane varieties currently available here:https://mountaincrestgardens.com/haworthia/
      Also, you might find some listed on Etsy:https://www.etsy.com/search?explicit=1&q=haworthia
      I am working with a couple of online stores, hoping to get more varieties available online. I’ll let you know if it happens!
      Kat

    2. Hi Kat,

      Did you make the pineapple? I was wondering how to do that. I do not know what was used for the bottom, but know that the haworthia is on top. I am addicted to all things pineapple and just love that.
      Thank you!!

  2. Kat-

    Thank you for this page. It is a great introductory summary of the Haworthia. I have recently developed an obsession with succulents and this one was one of my favorites so I wanted to learn more.

    -Melissa in Florida

    1. Hi Melissa,
      You are most welcome! 🙂
      Fair warning (that you probably already know) expect the obsession to only grow stronger!
      Haworthia are such cool plants! I really love how the spiky looking varieties add the edgy appeal of a cactus to mixed succulents – without the spines!
      Have fun on your succulent adventure – and please let me know if I can answer any questions! 🙂
      ~Kat

  3. Hi Kat,
    I have just stumbled upon your page, Love the name and info is really helpful, ive got a few small haworthia plants at the moment and hoping to propagate from them… do you have any advice or tips on successful propagation of these beautiful mini plants?
    Thanks again
    Jess : )

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Thanks so much for your kind comments! 🙂
      Yes – you can easily propagate your haworthia from offsets. These are the baby plants that form around the base of the mother plant. The image above under “Zebra succulent” is a good illustration.
      Because haworthia are such slow growers, I recommend you wait to do this until the spring. Then, unpot your plant, and look for the natural spaces between the offsets and the mother plant. Using your thumb and fingers, tease apart the roots between the two. Separate the offsets from the mother plant, taking care to leave good root zones attached to each. Replant the mother plant in fresh succulent mix. If the offsets all have good roots, go ahead and pot them up now!
      If some offsets have no roots, set them aside for about 24 hours to heal over. Then poke them into a pot of dry succulent mix, and give them another week. Mist the soil well after a week’s time, and let them sit dry again for another week. Continue this until a gentle tug on the offsets either shows roots, or the plant resists coming out of the soil – which will be due to it having developed roots. Now continue their care as above, because you now have new, rooted haworthia plants! 🙂
      ~Kat

  4. Hi Kat,
    I am so happy because I stumbled upon your page, it is so helpful and informative. I am sorry because I didn’t find it sooner. Can you please help me with advice? I have bought maybe 7 months ago h.fasciata, everything looked ok on the outside, new little plants grew up under mother plan. I wanted to repot it and then I saw the root is rotten 🙁 is there any way I can save at least some parts of the plant, because leaves look great? Thank you for answer

    1. Hi Jelena,
      I am so glad you wrote! Yes – you can definitely save this beautiful plant! 🙂
      Are you familiar with stem propagation? http://thesucculenteclectic.com/propagating-succulents-stem-cuttings/ Or have you ever had to cut the top of a badly stretched succulent to re-root it? That is exactly what you want to do here. If the stem is still firm, just poke it into some dry succulent soil and let it sit there for a week or so. Then water lightly and let it fully drain. In a couple of weeks, after the soil is again very dry, water lightly again. Continue this for about 6 weeks, then gently lift the plant. If it easily comes up – replace it and continue. If instead, it resists your pull – it has rooted nicely! Now, move it into a bit more light and grow it on!
      If, however, the stem is soft and squishy, remove the lower leaves until you come to firm stem. Set those leaves aside, in shade, on dry succulent soil to root. Then, make a clean cut on the stem to remove every trace of the squishy part. Then continue as above.
      Please keep me posted on its progress! You can do this! If you have any other questions for it – please let me know!
      ~Kat

  5. Hi Kat!
    This post is great! I was wondering what type of Haworthia is the one in the header of this post. I now have two of those and one isn’t doing so well! But I can’t identify it.
    I’ll definitely be following your site! It’s very helpful and I am so excited to be getting into succulents.
    Thank you!
    -Anna

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