Guest Author - Lisa Beth Voldeck
Some very interesting and attractive succulent plants are found in the Haworthia genus. There are as many as 90 identified plants in the genus, each with its own unique appearance. These plants are close relatives of Aloe vera, and many of them resemble aloe closely. Haworthias are small and compact making for nice windowsill specimens or residents in a mixed container. When you start to delve into the numerous individual plants that make up Haworthia, a mixed container may start to look like the best choice. Haworthias are so enjoyable to grow its unlikely that one will be enough.
One of the best things about Haworthias is that they demand very little attention. Set them up in a sunny spot, either in a south facing window (north if you’re south of the equator) or on a coffee table near a door-wall or in a sunroom. East or west windows will work as well, but for the healthiest, happiest plant, lots of sun is required.
Haworthias are sensitive to being over-watered. Some symptoms that they have been over-watered are mold growing on the potting mix surface, fungus gnats circling the pot, and mushy and shriveled leaves. Shriveled leaves may also be a symptom of under-watering. In the case of over-watering the shriveling would be a result of the roots having rotted off rendering the plant incapable of taking up any water. Taking the plant out of the pot for a look may be in order if the leaves are shriveled but you are sure you have been watering.
To prevent over-watering, plant your Haworthia in a clay pot. This will help the potting mix breathe. Use a potting mix that is well-drained, such as a cacti- and succulent-specific type. Adding perlite and pumice to your regular potting mix is another option. When watering, add water until you see it run out the hole in the bottom of the pot. Dump any excess water; leaving the pot to sit in a tray holding water will invite root rot. Do not water again until the potting mix is nearly dry. If possible, water on sunny days when there are several more sunny days in the forecast and avoid watering on rainy days.
Fertilizer is not really necessary for Haworthias to do well. If you would like to fertilize, apply a liquid fertilizer once a month at half- to quarter-strength. Avoid fertilizing more often than that, as it may actually do more harm than good, especially if salts build up in the pot. Do not fertilize in the winter months.
Propagation of Haworthias is best done by offsets. Small pups can be separated from the mother plant when they have developed several roots of their own. Haworthias can also be grown from seed, if hybridizing is something you’d like to try. Whenever two Haworthias are in flower you can use a soft paintbrush to dab the pollen from one to another. Sow the seeds on the surface of the potting mix and provide a humid environment until the little plants have established. A clear plastic lid or plastic wrap works great.