Haworthia retusa


Aloe retusa
Apicra retusa
Catevala retusa
Haworthia retusa var. nigra
Haworthia retusa var. quimutica
Haworthia retusa var. retusa


Haworthia retusa is native to the Western Cape Province of South Africa, particularly flourishing in the Little Karoo region. It thrives in arid, semi-desert areas, typically growing in the shade of rocks or other vegetation. This habitat provides a unique microclimate that offers protection from intense sunlight and extreme temperatures, which are characteristic of its native environment.


Haworthia retusa, a charming and distinctive succulent, is part of the Asphodelaceae family and it is known for its striking, star-shaped rosettes, which can grow up to 8 cm in diameter. The plant’s leaves are thick, fleshy, and translucent at the tips, allowing light to penetrate and reach the interior photosynthetic tissues, an adaptation to low-light conditions. The leaves are green, often with a glassy or crystalline appearance, and can have fine lines or striations running lengthwise. The leaves of Haworthia retusa grow in a spiral pattern, forming tight, compact rosettes. This growth habit helps the plant conserve water, a critical adaptation in its arid natural habitat. The leaf tips are flattened and windowed, a unique feature among succulents, which aids in maximizing the amount of light absorbed for photosynthesis. Unlike many other succulents, Haworthia retusa is a relatively slow-growing plant. It often grows partially buried in its natural habitat, with only the leaf tips exposed. This positioning is a natural adaptation to protect the plant from harsh sunlight and heat. Haworthia retusa blooms in the late spring or early summer, producing slender, upright flower stalks that can be up to 30 cm tall. The flowers are small, white, and tubular, with greenish-brown veins. They are not particularly showy, but they do add an extra element of interest to the plant.


Haworthia retusa is well-suited for cultivation as a houseplant due to its compact size and low light requirements. It prefers bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight, especially during the hot summer months, can scorch the leaves, so it’s best to avoid placing it in direct sun for extended periods. The ideal soil for Haworthia retusa is a well-draining cactus or succulent mix. Good drainage is crucial to prevent root rot, a common issue in overly moist conditions. Watering should be done sparingly, allowing the soil to completely dry out between waterings. In the winter, reduce watering even further, as the plant enters a dormant period. This succulent prefers a stable environment with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 30°C. It is not frost-hardy, so it should be protected from freezing temperatures. If grown in an area with cold winters, it is best to bring the plant indoors or provide some form of frost protection. Fertilizing is not a major requirement for Haworthia retusa. A light feeding with a diluted, balanced fertilizer can be done once in the spring and once in the summer during the active growing season. Due to its slow growth, Haworthia retusa does not need frequent repotting. When repotting is necessary, typically every two to three years, it’s important to handle the roots gently and provide fresh, well-draining soil.


Propagation of Haworthia retusa is commonly done through offsets or leaf cuttings. This plant often produces small offsets around the base of the mother plant, which can be gently removed and potted independently. Ensure the offset has some roots attached for better chances of successful growth. Allow the offset to dry for a day or two before planting in well-draining soil. Leaf cuttings can also be used, although this method is less common. Allow the cut leaf to callous over for a few days before planting in a suitable growing medium.


An interesting fact about Haworthia retusa is its “windowed” leaves, which are a remarkable adaptation for survival in low-light conditions. The translucent tips allow sunlight to penetrate directly into the internal leaf tissues, facilitating efficient photosynthesis. This feature gives the plant a unique, almost gem-like appearance, making it a favorite among succulent collectors.

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