Haworthia is a desert native popularly grown as a houseplant in the U.S. due to its compact size and attractive foliage. The plant is also generally low maintenance, making it popular among succulent collectors. Propagating your plant is a cost-effective way to increase your haworthia collection.
You can propagate haworthia from offsets, cuttings, or seeds. The easiest way to grow new plants is to collect the offsets beside the mother plant. Rooting stem or leaf cuttings is also possible and can be used to save a plant damaged by root rot. The least popular and most tedious method is seed propagation.
In the rest of the article, I’ll discuss these three methods in more detail. I’ll also share helpful tips on how to ensure your plant thrives after propagation.
- Propagation Methods: Haworthias can be propagated through offsets, leaf or stem cuttings, and seeds. Each method is suited to different scenarios and comes with its own level of difficulty and success rates.
- Offsets: The simplest and most reliable method. Mature haworthias produce offsets or pups, which have their own root system and can be separated from the mother plant for quick replanting. The offsets are already rooted, so they can be readily planted.
- Cuttings: Suitable when offsets aren’t available. Leaf or stem cuttings from a mature plant can be rooted in a suitable potting mix. This method takes 2-4 months for roots to develop.
- Seeds: Propagating haworthia from seeds is a more challenging and time-consuming method. Best for creating hybrids, but It requires consistent moisture and can take up to 18 months for the seedlings to transition to regular care.
- Optimal Conditions: Propagate in early spring, ensuring a warm environment (65-80 °F/18-27 °C), moderate humidity (30-50%), and bright, indirect light for the best results.
Haworthia Propagation: An Overview
Haworthias are succulents native to hot and dry regions in South Africa. They have plump leaves that are either pointed or blunt, depending on the species. These leaves store water for the plant, making it drought-tolerant.
All haworthia species hardly grow beyond 2 feet (60 cm) tall and some are even shorter. Their compact size helps them survive in nature. They receive direct sunlight for part of the day followed by partial shade from rocks or taller plants, protecting them from sun damage.
When grown indoors, however, aloe-like haworthias (H. fasciata) can keep growing new leaves in the middle and get taller if grown in low-light conditions or left undivided for too long.
Types of Propagation Methods
There are three ways to propagate haworthias:
- Dividing offsets
- Collecting leaf cuttings
- Sowing seeds
Here’s a brief comparison of these propagation methods:
|Mature haworthias spread laterally through offsets or pups.
Each pup has its own root system and can be separated from the mother plant.
|It can take a few years before the plant has offsets strong enough to divide.
The offsets are already rooted so they can be readily planted.
You get new plants identical to the mother plant.
|You can collect leaf or stem cuttings from a mature plant if the offsets are not yet viable for propagation.
Plant the cuttings in your usual haworthia potting mix and keep the upper inch (2.5 cm) moist.
|Cuttings are easy to root although it can take 2-4 months.
You get new plants identical to the mother plant.
|Sow the seeds in a potting mix with better moisture retention.
Wait 1-2 weeks until the seeds germinate.
Thin the seedlings after 3-6 weeks.
|You can make hybrids when you cross two haworthia species.
Seedlings require more consistent moisture than mature plants, so it can take 12-18 months before you can transition to regular care.
Best Time for Propagation
The best time to propagate healthy haworthias is in early spring. Various haworthia species may have different growing seasons, but they all actively grow during spring.
Summer growers become active in early spring and may bloom in the middle of summer. On the other hand, winter growers kept in frost-free conditions can start growing in late winter and may bloom in mid-spring.
To ensure your plant continues to grow after propagation, here are the environmental conditions to keep in mind for the first 2-6 months:
- Temperature: 65-80 °F (18-27 °C)
- Humidity: 30-50%
- Light: Bright, indirect light
- Water: Keep the top inch (2.5 cm) moist but not soggy
On the other hand, you can propagate haworthias anytime as a treatment for root rot. They will recover slowly when propagated outside their growing season, but they’ll likely die if you don’t do it soon enough.
Dividing and Planting Offsets (Pups)
The most natural way of propagating haworthias is through offsets. Haworthias live for several decades and can grow numerous baby plants throughout their lifetime.
Identifying and Separating Offsets
If you’ve had your plant for over 5 years, you may notice a smaller plant growing beside it and crowding the pot. Older plants may even have multiple offsets within the 2-3-year period before repotting.
You’ll know the offsets are ready for propagation if they exhibit the following:
- Each pup is over an inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
- The root system of each pup is around 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) long, white, and plump.
- They easily break away from the mother plant with a gentle tug.
Step-by-Step Guide to Separation
Healthy haworthias are resilient and wouldn’t mind a messy job of removing the offsets. That also means you have more room for mistakes and your plant will recover.
You don’t need to use any tools for this process. You can just separate the pups from the mother plant using your hands.
You can minimize plant stress using the following steps:
- Water the plant 1-2 days before dividing. This will make the soil easier to work with and the pups safer to pull out.
- Hold the pup firmly by the crown and wiggle it to see if it pulls away readily. If the pups don’t break away easily although they’re big enough, the roots may be too intertwined. In this case, you must unpot the entire plant.
- Loosen the soil from the roots using your fingers and separate the large enough pups from the mother plant.
- Inspect the roots if they’re long enough and healthy.
- Set them aside in a cardboard box or on a paper plate.
- Replant the mother plant in the same pot. You can reuse the soil if there are no signs of disease or rot. Just refill the displaced soil with a fresh mix with the same composition.
- Prepare small pots about 2 inches (5 cm) wide and 3 inches (7.6 cm) deep. Ensure the pots have drainage holes.
- Fill ¾ of the pot with moist succulent mix. I recommend using 60-70% perlite or pumice and 30-40% coco peat.
- Plant one pup in each pot. Just poke a finger into the soil and place the roots in.
- Place the pots in a bright, warm room (68 °F or 20 °C) away from direct sunlight.
- Water the soil as soon as the top inch (2.5 cm) is dry.
Collecting and Planting Cuttings
Stem or leaf propagation is an excellent alternative if your haworthia doesn’t have viable offsets yet. This option is also often used if the roots are severely damaged by root rot. The first step is to identify healthy sections to propagate.
Here are the qualities to look for:
- No brown tips or discoloration on the leaves
- The stem is firm and reddish-brown
Preparing Leaf or Stem Cuttings
Collecting leaf or stem cuttings is pretty simple. Water your plant about 2-3 days before collecting the cuttings. This will ensure the foliage is hydrated enough to survive the curing period.
For leaf cuttings, you can simply pluck a healthy leaf with a portion of the stem still attached. Haworthia leaves form a rosette pattern, so it’s possible to pull out a leaf without damaging the entire plant.
A good rule of thumb is to collect the outermost leaves from the bottom if the plant is healthy. Doing so will maintain the volume and beauty of the foliage above.
On the other hand, remove leaves from the top if the plant has root rot. There’s a chance the leaves at the top are not yet affected by the rot-causing pathogens.
If you want a clean cut from a healthy plant, follow these steps:
- Uproot the mother plant and remove the soil from the roots.
- Use a sterile knife to loosen the sides of the leaf attached to the stem.
- Slide the leaf from side to side while carefully pulling it off.
- Gently wipe any dirt left on the leaf.
- Inspect the leaf. There should be no wound at the bottom of the leaf. Any wound will later rot.
For stem cuttings, on the other hand, you need to follow the steps below:
- Prepare a sharp, sterile knife or scissors. You can clean them with a cloth moistened with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
- Locate a stem section with healthy leaves. The section must be 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) long.
- Cut through the stem at an angle similar to the leaves. It doesn’t have to be perfect because a healthy plant will bounce back and grow new shoots later to replace the section you remove.
- Pinch off the leaves at the bottom and those that have been damaged by the cutting process. Haworthias have really short stems, so you don’t have to remove too many leaves to expose the stem.
- Remove damaged leaves from the mother plant as well. The mother plant will recover and continue growing with adequate care.
- Leave the cutting in a cardboard box or on a paper plate for 3-7 days in a cool, dry room (65 °F or 18 °C and 30% humidity).
Once the cutting has formed a callus at the bottom, you can root it in the soil. Leaf and stem cuttings have the same requirements for propagation.
Follow the steps below to help them develop roots:
- Prepare a pot 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) wide and deep and with drainage holes. This is enough to accommodate one stem cutting or 2-3 leaf cuttings.
- Fill ¾ of the pot with fresh and moist potting mix composed of 60-70% perlite and 30-40% coco peat.
- Bury the bottom half inch (1.3 cm) of the cutting in the soil.
- When planting multiple cuttings, space them an inch (2.5 cm) apart.
- Place in a bright, warm area (68 °F or 20 °C) away from direct sunlight.
- Water the pot as soon as the top inch (2.5 cm) is dry. Use a watering can with a narrow spout to avoid dislodging the unrooted cuttings every time you water the soil
Aftercare for Rooted Cuttings
In about 2-4 months, your cuttings should develop roots. Stem cuttings will likely grow roots faster than leaf cuttings. It can take time for the cuttings to develop roots, but you’ll know the propagation is going well if the leaves remain plump and still the same color.
Give your plant a gentle tug to see if there’s a bit of resistance. If your plant comes off, inspect the bottom and just plant it right back.
Once they develop roots, move them to separate pots. Continue caring for them the same way until you see new leaf buds. This can take over 6 months.
At this point, you can make gradual adjustments, including the following:
- Move your pot closer to a curtained eastern window or about 4 feet (1.2 m) from a curtained western window.
- Rotate the pot by 90-180° every 1-2 weeks to ensure the new growth doesn’t become leggy. Most haworthias have translucent leaf tips that serve as epidermal windows through which light can enter. Turning your plant regularly will also ensure each leaf has a chance to photosynthesize.
- Keep the indoor temperature between 65 and 80 °F (18 and 27 °C). Your plant will be more tolerant to slightly higher temperatures.
- Reduce watering frequency by waiting until the top half of the pot is dry before watering again.
Pollination and Seed Propagation
This is the least recommended and most tedious method of haworthia propagation for the following reasons:
- Haworthias grown as houseplants seldom bloom due to lower light levels.
- They’re not self-fertile, so you’ll need two haworthias blooming at the same time. If you have different cultivars, this can result in a hybrid that can acquire traits from both parents.
- Indoor haworthias need to be hand-pollinated by brushing/scooping the pollen of one plant’s flower and dropping them to the pistil of another plant’s flower.
- There’s a low success rate for hand pollination because the flower shape requires a long brush or bristle to mimic the proboscis of bees.
- Haworthias grown from seeds will need more stringent care for the next 12-18 months before you can adjust to regular plant care.
To overcome these issues, some gardeners purchase seeds from reputable breeders. But if you’ve successfully pollinated your plant and collected seeds, you can grow them following the guidelines below.
Haworthia seeds have a short window for viability, which declines significantly with each passing year. Therefore, it’s best to sow the seeds within 6 months of harvest.
- Prepare a wide but shallow container with drainage holes. You can repurpose plastic food containers with colorless, transparent lids by poking holes at the bottom.
- Fill it with an inch (2.5 cm) of potting mix containing equal parts perlite, coco peat, and compost. You can replace perlite and coco peat with pumice and vermiculite, respectively. Note that seed propagation requires a mix with better moisture retention.
- Water the potting mix and let the excess moisture drain out of the holes.
- Sprinkle the seeds over the potting mix
- Cover the seeds with a very light layer of potting mix.
- Lightly mist the surface with filtered water in a spray bottle.
- Stick a label into the soil with the plant name and sowing date. This will tell you how long exactly the process takes.
- Cover the container with the lid. The excess moisture should condense on the lid and keep the seed tray moist.
- Place the setup in an area with bright, filtered light and temperatures between 68 and 80 °F (20-27 °C).
- If there’s significantly less condensation on the lid, open it and mist the soil with water until the surface feels moist. Leave the lid off for 1-2 hours during that time.
Germination and Seedling Care
With the steps listed above, your plant will germinate within 1-2 weeks. However, it can take 3-6 weeks before they can put on significant growth to thin them out and space them about an inch (2.5 cm) apart.
Depending on your plant’s growth rate, it can take 12-18 months before the seedlings are about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) tall and wide.
After this milestone, you can make the following adjustments:
- Move them to deeper soil (2 inches or 5 cm). You can keep multiple plants in one wide container spaced an inch (2.5 cm) apart. Alternatively, you can place them in small, individual pots about 2 inches (5 cm) wide and deep.
- Use your standard haworthia potting mix.
- Keep them in bright, filtered light. Rotate the pot or container by 90-180° every 1-2 weeks.
- Water the plants when half the potting mix is dry.
- Maintain temperature levels between 65 and 90 °F (18 and 32 °C). You may need to water more frequently at higher temperatures.
- Keep the humidity level around 40%. Mature haworthias are drought-tolerant but seedlings can be finicky when kept in dry conditions. They have small roots and the foliage is not big enough to store moisture for the plant’s needs.
Common Challenges and Solutions in Haworthia Propagation
Young haworthias require more care and attention than mature plants. That said, there are a few challenges you might come across when propagating haworthias.
Young plants need more frequent watering because their roots and foliage can’t absorb and store moisture as well as mature plants can. But it’s easy to overestimate their watering needs and drown the plant.
In the fall and winter, you may need to reduce the watering frequency due to lower temperatures and light intensity. However, seedlings need consistent moisture, so it’s challenging to find the right balance.
To prevent root rot or overwatering issues, ensure that the pot and the potting mix have adequate drainage. Always check that the top inch (2.5 cm) of the soil is dry enough before watering.
On the other hand, seedlings in shallow soil may need water when the upper half inch (1.3 cm) is dry.
Leaf or stem cuttings can take 2-4 months to form roots. When propagated outside the growing season, it can take even longer for roots to develop.
Inspect your cutting for signs of damage or decay. Usually, a poor-quality cutting should fade within a month of propagation and must be discarded.
If your cutting lasts more than a month (even up to 6 months) without dying, be patient. The cutting will soon form roots.
Mealybugs are the most common pests of haworthias. If there’s a prior infestation in your home, these pests can transfer from one plant to another through your clothes or gardening tools.
Small and young plants have little resistance to pest attacks. Once they get hold of your young haworthia plant, it’s only a matter of time before they can kill it.
To prevent severe damage, inspect your young plants every time you water them. Pick up the pests using tweezers as soon as you spot them and drop them in a cup of soapy water.
Common Related Questions and Answers
Can Haworthia Regrow Roots?
Haworthia can regrow roots that were previously damaged. For faster recovery, your plant needs bright, indirect light, moderate water, and fast-draining soil. They also need warm temperatures and low-moderate humidity to thrive.
Can You Grow Haworthia From Cuttings?
You can grow haworthia from stem or leaf cuttings. Ensure the cuttings have no wounds and allow the stem to form a callus within 3-7 days. Plant the cuttings in constantly moist soil and place them in a warm room with bright, indirect light.
It can take 2-4 months for them to develop roots, but they’re a better option than seed propagation.
How Do You Separate Haworthia Babies?
Gently wiggle the haworthia babies to separate them from the mother plant. They should break away easily with their own root system.
If there’s strong resistance, avoid forcing the offsets away. The young roots may be entangled with the mother plant’s. You must unpot the plant and carefully disentangle the roots to avoid damaging the entire root system.
Can Succulent Cuttings Go Straight Into the Soil?
It’s best to let the succulent cuttings form a callus before planting them in the soil. Without a callus over the cut part, the cutting will be more prone to dehydration.
Since succulents can take several weeks to months before forming roots, the callus is necessary to prevent rapid moisture loss.
Can You Put Haworthia in Water?
It’s best to grow haworthia cuttings in soil. The rooting method can take several months, so rooting them in water for too long may increase the risk of rot.
On the other hand, mature haworthia plants are drought-tolerant and don’t like constantly sitting in water. These plants are susceptible to root rot and any contaminant in the water may increase the risk of root damage.
Mature haworthias can be readily propagated through offsets, which have their own roots. If the offsets are too small to separate from the mother plant, you can reproduce them from leaf or stem cuttings. Both processes yield baby plants that are identical to the mother plant.
If you want to grow a hybrid, you can propagate haworthias from seeds. You’ll need two plants blooming at the same time and you must hand-pollinate them. The process is tedious and can often prove ineffective, making it the least popular option.
If you have tried experimenting with propagating your haworthias in ways not listed here, feel free to leave a comment and share photos!