The small Haworthia Retusa [ha-WORTH-ee-a re-TOO-suh] is a popular succulent plant with a short rosette of thick, triangular leaves.
It’s one of many flowering plants that belong to the genus Haworthia and the family Asphodelaceae.
The plant comes to us from Riversdale on the Western Cape Province in South Africa and also has a few common names:
- Window succulent
- Star cactus
- Aloe retusa
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 Care
Size and Growth
Haworthia retusa is a slow-growing succulent that mostly grows in the ground, with the rosette showing on the surface.
The rosette includes triangular green succulent leaves with a recurved shape and rarely exceeds four or five inches, especially when cultivated.
It also produces offsets, which form in clumps around the mother plant.
NOTE: The leaf tips on the plant have translucent windows which interest botanist. These ‘windows’ illuminate the interior photosynthetic leaf areas.
Flowering and Fragrance
From the center of the rosette, a tall flower stalk appears. It may reach up to 20″ inches and produces small, tubular flowers.
The flowers are white and arrive in the late spring or early summer.
Light and Temperature
As a succulent from the arid region of South Africa, the plant is suited for outdoor life in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
These zones cover the southern states of the US, along with most of the west coast.
The plant thrives in warm weather during the summer and prefers cooler temperatures in the winter.
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 it’s grown indoors or outside, avoid extended periods 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 accidentally overwater the plant.
Allow the soil to dry out between each watering. During the summer, water the soil evenly, ensuring that the soil gets saturated. In the winter, you can scale back watering to every other month.
Use a cactus fertilizer on younger plants during the summer. It doesn’t need plant food in the winter.
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.
Several plants can be grown together in a container. In fact, people often choose to grow them in clusters in wide dishes.
These small plants shouldn’t need transplanting. As they only grow to four or five inches, the container that you start it in should provide a home for the entire life of the plant.
If you decide to place the plant 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 these growths and use them for propagation.
Maintenance and Grooming
After the flowers wilt, you may need to clean up the dried petals. Other than this basic task, no grooming is needed.
Propagating Star Cactus Haworthia
Propagation is possible by collecting offsets or a leaf cutting. 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.
Allow the 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 it’s still important to allow the soil to dry out between watering.
To propagate with leave cuttings, cut the leave close to the stem. Allow the cutting to dry overnight and then dip it in rooting hormone. Place the cutting in its own 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 to worry about is root rot from too much water.
If the leaves start to turn yellow, the star cactus is likely getting too much water. Allow the soil to dry out and wait to see if the leaves start to turn green.
Suggested Uses For Retusa Star Cactus
These tiny 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, it can also be grown individually in creative containers, such as baby shoes or teacups.