Species Spotlight ~ Haworthia! Exceptional Indoor Succulent
haworthia attentuata, photo credit Ernest McGray, Jr

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 attentuata, photo credit Ernest McGray, Jr
Haworthia attentuata, photo credit Ernest McGray, Jr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.


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 20Β° 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.

Is Haworthia Toxic to Pets?

Pet Safe Succulent

Haworthia is non-toxic and entirely safe to grow around cats, dogs and small children.

This symbol denotes pet-safe succulents. For more information about succulents and pets, just click on this image anywhere on this site.

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. 


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! πŸ™‚

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haworthia - guide to perfect indoor succulent plants


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This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Jenn

    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. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jenn,
      Wow! Sounds like you have a growing jungle indoors! πŸ™‚ 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. Andrea Legrand

      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. Melissa

    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. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Melissa,
      You are most welcome! πŸ™‚
      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! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  3. Betty

    Enjoyed your article and look forward to trying more browsing at a great succulent /cacti garden .

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Thanks so much, Betty!
      Have fun! They come in so many different forms! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  4. jessica

    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. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jessica,
      Thanks so much for your kind comments! πŸ™‚
      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! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

      1. Nicole

        Hi Kat! Thanks for this helpful info. My plant send to be a HAWORTHIA PUMILA – and the offsets are growing between the mother plant’s leaves. There is no root there at all. I left the offsets inside this space long enough to grow 5-7 leaves on the pup. Now I have removed them but there are NO roots. Should I still follow this plan? Thank you!

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Hi Nicole,
          Are you periodically watering your offsets? If so, I would try lengthening the time between waterings. For instance, instead of providing water every 7 days, make it 10. The offset is too comfortable with its stored water supply. A little, gentle stress should stimulate root development. You might also want to crush an aspirin in the water for when you do water. Salicylic acid is a natural rooting hormone.
          Please keep me posted on its progress!
          ~Kat

  5. Jelena

    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 πŸ™ is there any way I can save at least some parts of the plant, because leaves look great? Thank you for answer

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jelena,
      I am so glad you wrote! Yes – you can definitely save this beautiful plant! πŸ™‚
      Are you familiar with stem propagation? https://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

  6. Anna

    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

      1. Elsa

        Actually, it doesn’t look like a Haworthia attenuata at all. I have one of those. It does, however, look exactly like my Aristaloe aristata, formerly known as Aloe aristata. So not a Haworthia. It needs a bit more water and likes higher temperatures,

        1. Kat McCarthy

          Hi Elsa,
          It does look a lot like an aloe. I was given this image to use by that name, but perhaps I should switch it out for another that is clearer.
          Thanks for the feedback!
          ~Kat

  7. Connie E.

    Hi Kat. New to your site. Have what I think is a great site for a new rock garden in my back yard. Live in the Mesa, AZ area. Hot, hot, hot summers. Can you help with the how, where and when to establish my new garden? If not, do you have a local contact that can help me. Looking forward to putting it together.
    -Connie E.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Connie,
      Awesome! There are many succulents that will thrive in the garden you describe! πŸ™‚
      You’ll find more information on varieties that will do well in high heat as well as full sun on my post here: https://thesucculenteclectic.com/select-succulents-to-suit-your-site/
      For expert advice on your specific climate and challenges – contact the Maricopa Master Gardener program here: https://extension.arizona.edu/maricopamg
      They’ll help you grow tomatoes, select plants and succulents for your climate and answer all manner of questions!
      I am also happy to help with any questions, but for expertise on your specific climate, I would start with them.
      I’d love to see pictures when you’re done – and hear of progress of questions along the way! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  8. Nancy Gurnham

    I have become “addicted” to succulents over the past months. I find it very disappointing that most of the suppliers I have found do not ship to Canada. does anyone know of a swap or retail group that will ship to or is in Canada? I truly appreciate all the wonderful information in your posts and the “Lesson plan” . I am sharing with some friends at work who also love them. I am hoping to make planters for Christmas gifts this year.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Nancy,
      I recommend you check into Succulent and Cactus Societies of Canada like this one: http://ottawacactus.ca/ If this is not close enough to your part of Canada, there are others. These societies and FaceBook groups dedicated to succulent lovers are great forums for learning about good succulent vendors in your location. This is also a great way to learn what succulent and cactus varieties thrive in your specific climate with what type of care.
      I LOVE your plan to make succulent planters for Christmas! Propagate the species of succulent lovers! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  9. Helen Cookson

    Hello Kat,
    Thank you for this informative issue. As a new parent of a Zebra Plant, that I just received for my birthday and have dubbed him Thor, I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the plant in the last vertical photo list of pictures, right below Haworthia – The Perfect Indoor Succulent. The one I would like to know the name of is the second one down, right above the Zebra Plant. I have one exactly like it, called The Hulk, and I can’t seem to find information on him anywhere.

    Thank you for the survey you put out. I thought that was a top idea and I can’t wait to see what your creative imagination comes back with next!

    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Helen

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Helen,
      SO glad the survey was a good idea for you. I am learning a lot from the responses! And I am making plans for new content!
      It looks like your plant, The Hulk, is a Haworthia pumila, sometimes called a pearl plant. You mean the one with the small spots? Such a cool variety!
      Thanks SO much for the comment –
      and for subscribing!
      Please give my best to Thor! πŸ™‚
      ~Kat

  10. Jessica

    I have a haworthia that was thriving for over a year, and then suddenly it started to die and now the only part left is the brand new growth that used to be coming up the center of the big plant. The whole plant separated from the root and was mushy inside when it did, so I thought I might have overwatered it? But I’ve been doing just a small amount of water every 3-4 weeks like it said to. Is the plant middle that’s left going to be able to grow new roots and be ok or is it doomed?

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Jessica,
      I’m so sorry – I understand what a disappointment that is!
      I think the healthy portion is likely to continue to grow for you.
      Haworthia go dormant over the summer, even though they look just the same as they always did. It’s important to cut back on the water for them during their dormancy. The right amount of water spring through fall can be too much during the summer.
      Just cut back any dead portions, and lighten up on the water. Then the center may grow well for you!
      Fingers crossed!
      ~Kat

  11. Penny Hudgins

    I have a small Haworthia plant and it has sprouted a very long stem that has flowered. Can I cut this off as it is so long?? Thank you.

    1. Kat McCarthy

      Hi Penny,
      Absolutely! Cut the bloom stem close to the plant without cutting into a leaf.
      Enjoy!
      ~Kat

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