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How to Grow and Care for Haworthiopsis

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Haworthiopsis is a genus of attractive, dwarf succulents that was previously included in Haworthia. The genus was erected by Gordon Rowley in 2013, with the type species Haworthiopsis coarctata. A total of 18 species are recognized in Haworthiopsis. This genus is restricted to southern Africa, where it occurs in the central, southern and western parts of South Africa and southern Namibia, as well as Swaziland and possibly southern Mozambique.

The name "Haworthiopsis" alludes to the similar appearance of these plants to other species of Haworthia and to the fact that they were previously treated in the latter genus. The ending "-opsis" derives from the Greek "opsis", meaning "appearance", hence Haworthiopsis means "like Haworthia".

Species in the genus are characterized by their small rosettes of succulent leaves that are generally harder and tougher with a thicker epidermis, than those of Haworthias. Leaf fibres are also present in some species. Leaf characters vary tremendously among the different species in terms of shape, size, color and texture. Plants can be solitary or suckering to form dense clumps and some even offset by means of underground stolons. Some species are stemless, whereas others have their leaves compactly arranged around elongated stems. Flowers are borne in a raceme on a long, stiff stalk. Each flower is with white to green, pink or brown tepals, forming a two-lipped structure with a hexagonal or rounded hexagonal base. Both the outer and inner tepals are joined together at their bases. The stamens and the style are enclosed within the tepals. The species mostly flower in spring and summer, but sporadic flowering is not uncommon, especially in cultivation. The fruit is a narrowly ovoid capsule with black or dark brown seeds.

Haworthiopsis are often used by traditional healers as a spiritual remedy to ward off evil as well as a treatment as blood purifiers and cures against coughs, skin rashes, sun burns, burns, etc.

Photo by Ruud de Block

Growing Conditions for Haworthiopsis

Haworthiopsis are best suited to container gardening. In frost-free areas with a lower rainfall, some of them can be grown successfully in rockeries when planted in sheltered areas amongst rocks, where they will form clumps or clusters over time.

Even though most species are hardy and can tolerate full sun, they flourish in semi-shaded positions, but brighter light conditions are needed to bring out the leaf coloration. Any window in your house or office is likely to be an appropriate setting for Haworthiopsis.

These succulents can be planted in terracotta pots using a well-drained potting soil.

Haworthiopsis like warmer temperatures in the summer but cool in the winter. They can tolerate cold down to USDA hardiness zones 10a, 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

General Care for Haworthiopsis

Haworthiopsis are not considered difficult plants to grow. As with all succulents, the most dangerous situation is too much water. The best way to water these succulents is to use "soak and dry" method. Get the soil completely wet and then wait until the soil is dry before watering again. In the winter, reduce watering to once per month. Never allow water to collect in the rosette.

Feed monthly from spring to fall with a fertilizer specially made for succulents. Do not feed in winter when growth has slowed down.

When the cluster has outgrown its container, repot in the spring or early summer into a new wide and shallow container with fresh potting soil. This is also the time to take offsets for propagation.

How to Propagate Haworthiopsis

Haworthiopsis are mostly and easily cultivated from stem-cuttings or by removing offsets from the mother plant. Stem cuttings can be removed during the warmer parts of the year, left to dry for a couple of weeks and planted shallowly in a well-drained potting soil. Planted cutting should be watered sparingly until the plant has rooted and shows signs of growth. Offsets can be removed when they have started developing their own roots. Older clumps can also be divided into individual plants and replanted.

They can also be propagated by seed. Seeds should be sown in spring in a fine mixture of sand and composted bark, sprayed lightly on a daily basis to keep the surface slightly moist. Germination could commence after 2 weeks and seedlings can be transplanted into individual pots after the first or second year.

Unlike Haworthia and Tulista, these succulents are not as easy to propagate from leaves.

Pests and Diseases of Haworthiopsis

Haworthiopsis has no notable pests or diseases. When soil is kept too moist, soil gnats are common. Fungal or rot issues also ensue in plants that are kept in high humidity areas, dimly lit rooms or overwatered.

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