Haworthia Retusa Care: Learn How To Grow The Star Cactus

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The small Haworthia Retusa is a popular succulent plant with a short rosette of thick, triangular leaves.

It’s one of many flowering plants, like Haworthia cuspidata and Haworthia cooperi, that belong to the genus Haworthia and the family Asphodelaceae.

Star Cactus Retusa HaworthiaPin

The Haworthia retusa comes to us from Riversdale in the Western Cape Province in South Africa and also has a few common names:

  • Window succulent
  • Star cactus
  • Aloe retusa
  • Cushion Aloe

These tiny low maintenance succulents are often grown on window sills or added to cactus gardens.

It’s a perennial plant and can last many years, provided the right plant care tips are followed.

Haworthia Retusa Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Haworthia Retusa
  • Common Name(s): Star Cactus, Window succulent, Cushion Aloe, Aloe retusa
  • Synonyms: Haworthia Cooperi var. Retusa
  • Pronunciation: ha-WORTH-ee-a re-TOO-suh
  • Family & Origin: Asphodelaceae family, native to Western Cape Province in South Africa
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 9-11
  • Size: Grows up to 4″ or 5″ inches tall and wide
  • Flowering: Produces small white tubular flowers in summer or spring
  • Light: Full sun, partial shade or bright, indirect light
  • Humidity: 50% and 70% humidity levels
  • Temperature: Thrives in temperatures between 60-90°F
  • Soil: Cacti & succulent mix or potting soil with fast drainage
  • Water: Water sparingly, allowing soil to dry out between waterings
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize with cactus fertilizer in summer
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to mealybugs, fungus gnats, scale, and spider mites. watch for root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Propagate through offsets, leaf, or stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Great for indoor or outdoor decoration, can be used in succulent arrangements or as a standalone plant.

Haworthia Retusa Care

Size and Growth

Haworthia retusa is a slow-growing succulent that mostly grows in the ground, with star-shaped rosettes showing on the surface.

The rosette includes triangular green succulent leaves with a recurved leaf shape and rarely exceeds 4″ or 5″ inches, especially when cultivated.

It also produces offsets, which form in clumps around the mother plant.

NOTE: The leaf tips on Haworthia retusa have translucent windows, which interest botanists. These ‘windows’ illuminate the interior photosynthetic leaf areas.

Flowering and Fragrance

From the center of the rosette, a tall flower stalk appears. Haworthia Retusa may reach up to 20″ inches and produces small white tubular flowers.

The small flowers arrive in the late spring or early summer.

Light and Temperature

As a succulent from the arid region of South Africa, Haworthia retusa is suited for outdoor life out of the full sun with 6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.

These zones cover the southern states of the US, along with most of the west coast. 

Moreover, it also grows well in partial shade or locations with indirect sunlight when planted outdoors.

It thrives in warm temperatures between 60° to 90° degrees Fahrenheit.

Green succulent plant in sunlight.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @succulent_loves

Haworthia prefers cooler temperatures in the winter and becomes dormant during the summer months.

It can survive temperatures as low as 50° degrees Fahrenheit during the colder months.

Outside the recommended zones, the star cactus is typically grown indoors.

Keep the plant at normal room temperature, with light shade but access to bright light.

No matter if Haworthia retusa is growing indoors or outside, avoid extended periods of full sun.

Watering and Feeding

Watering is one of the only challenges of caring for a Haworthia retusa. Like most succulents, it doesn’t need frequent watering, causing many owners to overwater the plant accidentally.

Allow the soil to dry out between each watering. During the summer, water the soil sparingly. In the winter, you can scale back watering to every other month.

In addition, maintain humidity levels of about 50% and 70% because Haworthias are sensitive to high humidity levels and can result in fungal growth and rotten roots.

Use a cactus fertilizer on younger plants during the summer. It doesn’t need plant food in the winter.

Related: Check out our article on Haworthia watering for more details.

Green succulent on pebble bed.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @shane.w00d

Soil and Transplanting

Cacti & succulent mix or potting soil with fast drainage are recommended for Haworthia retusa. If using regular potting soil, add sand to improve drainage. 

Always use a pot with drainage holes. If you have poor soil, you can amend it with coarse sand, gravel, and perlite to enhance drainage.

Several plants can be grown together in a container. In fact, people often choose to grow star cactus in clusters in wide dishes.

These small plants shouldn’t need transplanting. As they only grow to four or five inches, the container you start it in should provide a home for the entire plant life.

If you decide to place Haworthia retusa in a new container, transplant it in the spring or early summer. Use the same soil recommendation.

It’s a relatively slow-growing succulent, but it may start to produce offsets. Transplanting is a good time to remove and use these growths for propagation.

Maintenance and Grooming

After the small white flowers wilt, you may need to clean up the dried petals. Other than this basic task, no grooming is needed for these small succulents.

During winter months, move your Haworthia retusa succulents indoors.

Propagating Star Cactus Haworthia

Propagation of Haworthia Retusa is possible by collecting offsets or leaf or stem cuttings. Propagating offsets is the easiest solution, as they can be removed during transplanting.

To propagate the offsets, carefully remove the mother plant from the soil. Use a sharp knife to trim the baby plants from the mother stem.

Lush green succulent in gravel.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plantasgauchitas

Allow the star cactus offsets to dry overnight before placing them in their own container or a dish. Use the same type of potting soil used for the mother plant and keep them in a warm, sunny spot.

The young plants need plenty of water, but allowing the soil to dry out between watering is still important.

To propagate the star cactus from leave cuttings, cut the leave close to the stem. Allow the cutting to dry overnight, and then dip it in the rooting hormone. 

Place the cutting in its own succulent pot and set it near a window with indirect sunlight.

Haworthia Pests or Diseases

Haworthia retusa is easy to care for and doesn’t pose a threat to people, pets, or other plants.

The only issue it may experience is root rot from too much water.

If the leaves turn yellow, the star cactus will likely get too much water. Allow the soil to dry out, and wait to see if the leaves start to turn green.

Mealybugs, fungus gnats, scale, and spider mites may occasionally attack it.

Green succulent in pot with textured leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @mossandtimber

Suggested Uses For Retusa Star Cactus

The tiny Haworthia Retusa succulent plants look great when grown in clusters in a wide planter as window plants.

It also pairs well with other Haworthia species featuring differently shaped leaves.

While it’s typically grown with other plants, Haworthias can also be grown individually in creative containers, such as baby shoes or teacups.

Haworthia Retusa species leave has also received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, UK, making it a beautiful addition to your collection.

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