Encyclopedia of Houseplants

How to Grow and Care for Haworthia Plants

updated Oct 26, 2022
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Haworthia, the adorable “polka-dotted” succulent, is one very easy to plant to care for. It’s similar to the beloved aloe vera plant, but has a little more personality. Here’s everything you need to know about the care and keeping of a haworthia:

About Haworthia

Haworthia is recognizable by its pearly warts (it’s cuter to think of them as polka dots), and is commonly called zebra cactus, pearl plant, star window plant, or cushion aloe. 

Predominantly native to South Africa, haworthia is usually small, around 3 to 5 inches in height (although some can shoot out taller blooming spikes), and a relatively slow grower.  

Plus, haworthia is nontoxic to pets!

Types of Haworthia

Experts generally agree that there are at least around 60 named species and about 150 named varieties. Here are just a few:

  • Haworthia attenuata is the classic haworthia you’re probably used to seeing. It has thick, tapered green leaves in a rosette form.
  • Haworthia fasciata, or Zebra Aloe, has a similar appearance, with pearly warts and thick leaves, but the leaves have a slight curl inward.
  • Haworthia cooperi also comes in rosette form, but its leaves are bubble-like. It’s commonly called the “ice lantern.”
  • Haworthia reinwardtii (Zebra Wart) This type of haworthia grows in a thicker rosette form.
  • Haworthia limifolia has ridges on its leaves that resemble those of a washboard, earning its nickname “fairy washboard.”
  • Haworthia truncata boasts a totally different look, with its leaves forming clumps instead of the classic haworthia spike.

Caring For Your Haworthia

If you know how to care for aloe and echeveria, you’ll be an ace at growing haworthia, as they have very similar needs.

Watering: As with all succulents, be careful not to overwater your haworthia, and make sure it has well-draining soil. Haworthia need to be watered when their soil is completely dried out and their leaves start to curl (about every two to three weeks). In the winter, they need less water, so you can basically forget about them and just water them every other month.

Light: Haworthia love bright, indirect sun. If you have a window facing south, east, or west, that’s your winner. 

If you want to move your haworthia outside during the summer, expose it to the sunlight a little more each day at the beginning of the season, so that it doesn’t become overexposed to the sun on its first day outside. Otherwise, its leaves will burn!

Credit: nadianb/Shutterstock

How to Propagate Your Haworthia

Check out this video on how to propagate your haworthia from an offset. You’ll need a well-draining pot, cactus mix (the video recommends cactus mix with pumice), and a haworthia with offsets. As the video demonstrates, you should gently pull away the offset and leave it out for 24 hours to dry.

Then, pop the offset upright in a new pot and wait a week to water. The video suggests watering once a week outside in partial sun or once every two weeks if kept in bright light inside. When watering, make sure to only hit the top of the soil, not the actual plant.

Repot the mother haworthia in a slightly larger pot so it can continue to grow.