Haworthia (Zebra Cactus / Pearl and Star Window Plant)

The Haworthia - Warts and All

Haworthias are dainty succulent plants which are frequently compared to Aloes, this is hardly surprising since they are both members of the Asphodeloideae family. They are almost always small growing plants and tend to look brilliant in unusual Haworthia (H. attenuata and H. fasciata) - Zebra Cactuscontainers or interesting soil mixes, as a result they can make fantastic gifts and presents for people, suiting either a home or office desk environment.

There is quite a variety to choose from, although the most popular is H. attenuata and H. fasciata, both are commonly known as the Zebra Cactus. The white wart like tubercles cover the back of the leaves in a stripy arrangement which resembles a Zebra stripe pattern. H. margaritifera or the Pearl Plant has slightly wider leaves and the "warts" are more dotted and spaced out producing a "pearl" type of effect. H. tessellata or Star Window Plant is the other Haworthia you are likely to come across, instead of white warts, the ones on this plant are semi-transparent "windows" (see third gallery picture to the right).

All will produce flowers, usually a few weeks after the "longest day" of the year, i.e. in Summer. However the flowers aren't very exciting, although because Haworthia is a very slow and compact plant not much happens visually during the year therefore the flowering period can be a welcome treat to show that your plant is actually "alive".


Plant Care and the Secrets to Success

Light

Will take various light conditions, but neither direct sunlight or deep shade.

Watering

A surviving plant will get by with watering just once a month, however to get the plant thriving it will need to be done at least once a fortnight. Very tolerant of underwatering, but will succumb quickly to rotting if overwatered.

Humidity

Not important.

Feeding

Very occasionally and when you do, ensure it is only a weak solution.

Temperature

Average warmth between Spring and Autumn / Fall. Cooler in Winter although if possible, not "cold" and absolutely no lower than 4°C / 40°F.

Repotting

Haworthia margaritifera sometimes known as the Pearl PlantIt's rare for any Haworthia to out grow its pot, therefore repotting is only required infrequently and usually only when offsets have filled the pot.

Propagation

When you repot you can separate the offsets from the parent. Use a sharpe knife and cut as close to the parent plant as possible, ensure the offset has some roots. Wait a day for the offset to dry slighly (this reduces the chances of the raw "wound" from rotting), then pot up in a small container using a standard potting or cactus compost mix. Water and keep warm.

Speed of Growth

Slow.

Height / Spread

Haworthia is a small plant by design and anything from 4 cm (2 in) to 20 cm (8 in) in height is usual. The flower stem however can be quite substantial.

Flowers

Yes. They appear in Summer months on the end of a long flower stem (inflorescence) if they have been treated well during the year.

Anything else?

They are compact plants so can easily be grouped in different sized containers to add visual appeal.


Help! My Haworthia is Dying

Leaves going red

This also happens with the Christmas Cactus, and it occurs when the plant is being exposed to direct sunlight or too much light. Move to a darker spot.

Black spots / Areas

Usually caused by overwatering, the plant is basically rotting. Increase the intervals between waterings, and ensure it's not sitting in water for prolonged periods.

Wrinkling leaves

You will have to use your own judgment here. Wrinkling leaves are normally caused by either no water for a prolonged period, or too frequent watering. If you look back on how the plant has been watered over the last few months you should be able to judge which is the cause and adjust.



Credit for the Third picture in gallery - Jacopo Werther / Stephen Boisvert
Credit for the Fifth picture in gallery - Mattman723

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