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Just a single glance at the adorable short rosette of thick, triangular leaves of Haworthia Retusa will make you fall in love with this lovely plant. This enchanting succulent is known by many other names- aloe retusa, window succulent, star cactus and more.
Care guide highlights: Star Cactus needs soil that has good water drainage properties, and is not a plant that requires to be watered frequently. Once a month during winter and twice during summer should suffice. It tolerates various humidity levels, but avoid keeping it in overly moist environment. Haworthia Retusa can be propagated from offsets, leaves and seeds.
However, if you are not sure how to properly grow this succulent in your home, read this Haworthia Retusa care guide to find out. We will discuss:
- Soil Requirements
- Light Requirements
- Watering Requirements
- Temperature and Humidity Requirements
- Fertilizing Requirements
- Pruning and Repotting
- Propagation Methods
- Common Problems
You will get all the best tips and tricks that will work for your aloe retusa every single time, so keep reading!
Soil Requirements for Haworthia Retusa
Typically, when we need to pot a plant, the first thing that comes to our mind is what kind or color of the pot to choose, while the soil choice is the last thing we think about.
As a matter of fact, things should be the other way round.
Soil is the most important factor that you need to consider and making the wrong choice could cost your plant its life.
When we talk about Haworthia Retusa and the adequate soil type, you need to take into consideration the basic fact of this plant – it’s succulent.
Immediately, this means it’s a plant that can survive for days without water.
Accordingly, you need to plant it in soil that has good water drainage properties.
The worst thing you can do to your Aloe retusa is to pot it in the water-retaining soil.
This is the fastest way to induce root rot and kill your plant.
In order to be sure that your Haworthia Retusa will prosper, you can pot it in a ready-made succulent and cacti mix with fast drainage properties.
However, if you live in rural areas or areas where you have access to natural soil you can use, you can make a slight addition to optimise such soil to be adequate for our little star cactus.
Namely, perlite or sand are excellent in providing better drainage when mixed with “regular soils”. However, try not to overdo it, cause then the plant will be deprived of all the right nutrients.
Before we proceed, take a look at more Haworthia types:
Light Requirements for Star Cactus Care
Haworhia Retusa is not so very demanding when it comes to the light setting that you need to provide for optimum growth.
Still, I can’t say that it likes too much light and I can’t say that it likes too little either.
You will have to find something in between, as I have.
All succulents, and more specifically, the succulents from the Haworthia genus like plenty of bright light, but direct exposure is a no-go.
To achieve this goal, aim for places such as shelves or mantlepieces just a tad away from a window facing east.
This is always a good option since it is near a light source and, yet, the light is never direct or too strong.
In this way, you will create the optimum light requirement for your window succulent.
By the way, its name “window succulent” has nothing to do with keeping it at a windowsill.
The name comes from the translucent windows you can find on the leaf tips. These practically let the light inside the rosette making it possible for the leaves to make proper photosynthesis.
Now, to optimise this feature, keep your Haworthia Retusa in the slight shade and it will thrive.
Watering Requirements for Haworthia Retusa
This is one of the reasons I like Star Cactus.
If I were to describe watering requirements of aloe retusa with only one word, it would definitely be the word “sparing”.
Seriously, being a succulent, Aloe retusa won’t take much water (again, I would like to stress the importance of well-draining soil).
If you want me to put it in numbers, let me say that it’s just fine to water Haworthia Retusa once in two weeks.
However, don’t take this for granted.
Observe your plant and check the soil every once in a while.
If it is not dry yet, then it’s better not to water.
I can’t stress enough that Haworthia R. is not a water lover.
Neither of the Haworthia species is.
It’s better to leave it all dry for days than to let it sit in wet, or god forbid, soaking wet soil.
Always bear in mind – succulents, Haworthia retusa included, and water don’t get along well.
Now, allow me to say that this 2-weeks watering schedule should only be followed during summer.
In wintertime, the golden standard is once a month.
So, lay low with watering.
Temperature and Humidity Requirements
You can’t discuss temperature requirements without mentioning humidity.
Cause, the higher the temperature, the lower the humidity, or maybe not, after all?
Whichever the case, let us see what the best requirements for our star cactus are.
Temperature Requirements for Haworthia Retusa
When people discuss our lovely succulent that is Star cactus, they will typically tell you in which zones it will survive.
However, let me put it this way.
When grown indoors, Haworthia Retusa will survive, nay, thrive in any zone.
The only condition, though, is that you keep it at normal room temperature.
I know you are familiar with what we consider to be normal room temperature, but it can’t hurt to say it again.
The ideal temperature conditions when growing H. Retusa in your home is 68 – 72°F (20 – 22°C).
It is even better if you can keep this temperature constant, without many deviations and fluctuations.
Sudden temperature changes, drops or rises, will amount to no good.
These are just an unnecessary burden for the plant and I believe you don’t want to see it struggle.
Moreover, Haworthia Retusa does not like to be exposed to too high temperatures nor to the low ones.
Keeping the temperature constant at the optimum parameters is the best thing that you can do for your beauty shaped like a rosette of thick leaves.
Humidity Requirements for Star Cactus
As is the case with other Haworthia species, let’s say, Cooperi or Cymbiformis, Haworthia Retusa doesn’t like much humidity either.
As for the air humidity in the room where you keep it, there aren’t any special requirements.
Like, normal humidity or even a bit drier air will do just fine.
On the other hand, here I have to revisit the topic of the soil requirement since the soil humidity, i.e. the lack of it is more important than the air humidity in general.
This species of Haworthia also hates it when its roots are sitting in water.
This is why drier soils are prefered. Accordingly, you need to pay attention to the humidity of the soil surrounding the root so you can make sure that the root is in a dry space, with minimum moisture possible.
Other than that, no particular requirements on humidity.
Fertilizing Requirements for Star Cactus
Another thing why perennial succulents are great is that they can do without fertilizer just fine.
By analogy, we can say the same for our darling aloe retusa here.
In general, I like to leave my plants without much fertilizer since I don’t like to boost their growth so they look unnatural.
Besides, adding fertilizer to Haworthia Retusa is so pointless having in mind it grows only so short.
Seriously, only four to five inches (10 – 12 cm) tall and wide is what you can expect from your star cactus provided that you treat it right.
In addition, it’s a slow-growing plant that it will take for more than a couple of years to reach this full size.
I believe you now understand the pointlessness of adding fertilizer “to boost growth”.
One instance where the use of fertilizer may be justified is if you slightly messed up the maintenance of Haworthia Retusa and you want to help it bounce back faster.
Note that it’s best to fertilize it during summer and omit the fertilizer in wintertime.
As for the proper fertilizer choice, always go for those specifically made for cacti and succulents.
Always follow the directions regarding the application that you can find on the package.
The ratio will depend on what brand you opted for so it’s safer to check what concentration they recommend.
Pruning and Repotting H. Retusa
These two may not always come together, but there comes a time when they coincide so it can’t hurt to mention them under the same title.
But, to make it easier for you, let me break it down like this.
I check my aloe retusa every once in a while for traces of shrivelled, yellow, or dried leaves.
If I find any, I just pinch them out since I don’t want them to spread their disease to the neighbouring leaves.
Another instance when pruning is a good idea is to remove the offset that forms around the mother plant (don’t throw these away; I’ll tell you why later!).
This sucks the life out from the parent not letting it grow properly, which they can’t do either since they are not planted the way they should.
Practically, these would be the instances when pruning comes in handy to make your plant more healthy and more pleasing to the eye.
Repotting Haworthia Retusa
Again, this is another reason why all of you who don’t want to invest too much time into caring for a plant will love this star cactus.
Or, all those of you who simply do not have much time for the plants for various reasons, will also find the care for Haworthia Retusa to be effortless.
Namely, you will spend a few seconds every two weeks just to water it and that would be all.
If you wonder what about repotting, well, rejoice!
Remember, succulents are extremely slow growers and you can repot them once you notice the rosette touching the edges of the pot.
If you think this is every half a year, well, think twice.
Two years or even three is more like it.
I told you – this is an ideal plant for all of you out there who just can’t find the time to dedicate themselves fully to plant care.
Just note that once you decide to move it to a new container, this container has to be one size up.
Just an inch will be more than fine.
In this way, the leaves will get some extra space to grow. But, note that the pot does not have to be much deeper. Wider is better, instead.
Make sure that you choose such a pot once you decide to repot your darling aloe retusa.
Haworthia Retusa Propagation Method(s)
If you like aloe retusa so much that you simply have to have another one, and another one, and another one, you must be contemplating the (right) way(s) to propagate it.
Now, succulents would not be succulents if they didn’t have a few right ways for propagation.
Let’s check the first!
1. Propagating H. Retusa through Offset
I already mentioned chapters above that the star cactus produces offshoot along the mother plant’ stem.
These are a perfect means to produce more of this lovely succulent.
The ideal time to harvest the offset is in the spring or early summer when you decide that it’s time to repot.
At this time, carefully remove the offset from the mother stem and pot it in the same potting mix as you used for the mother plant.
By the way, when you opt for this procedure, make sure to cover the place on the mother plant’ stem where you made the cut. This will protect the mother plant from catching an infection.
Back to the offset.
Once you plant it in the right potting mix (as described above), water from time to time – not too often, though, and let the lovely star cactus do its magic.
Soon enough you’ll have a whole new Haworthia Retusa (or more of them, depending on how many offsets were viable) in your home.
Enjoy your succulent jungle!
Note, though, how you need to give plenty of water to the newly potted offset. Still, try not to overdo it.
More importantly, even with the new growth, you have to allow the soil to dry out before the next watering
2. Propagating H. Retusa from Leaves
It oft happens that a leaf in the magnificent Haworthia Retusa rosette goes astray, disrupting the eye-pleasing pattern.
At such a time, you can pinch out such a leaf and instead of letting it impair the visual appearance of one plant, you can use it to make another one.
Or, you can just pinch out any healthy leaf from the mother plant and use it for further reproduction.
Once you do that, there are two paths you can take.
Typically, everybody opts for putting the leaf (or more of them) in water and then waiting for it to sprout roots.
If you choose a glass container, for example, you can observe the whole process and see what is happening at a given time.
Another option is to put the leaf directly into the soil. In such a case, you need to choose the same potting mix as is in the original plant.
With this option, you can only hope for the best. I am not saying it is not going to be successful, I am saying that the suspense will kill you.
You won’t be able to know what is happening in the soil down under, but worry not, my friend!
There is no chance that our little star cactus will not reproduce.
The most important thing is that you have to be patient and by all means resist the urge to move it or pick around it.
This can hurt the root system and cause irreparable damage to the new plant in formation.
3. Propagation from Seeds
This is also a viable option that includes taking seeds from the flowers and planting them directly into the soil.
However, it is a lengthy and tedious process, so I will not bother you with this.
Haworthia Retusa Common Problems
When it comes to the plant care and maintenance routine, there inevitably comes a time when you have to deal with pests and/or other problems.
I will deal with the pests just a bit later since I first need to warn you about these.
If you notice the leaves on your Haworthia Retusa are shrivelled, looking dry, or discolored, it’s maintenance reasons then.
Make sure that the plant isn’t overwatered, underwatered (rarely so), or if it is given inadequate light.
It is easy to fix these.
If too much water – just cut back watering until the soil completely dries out. This may yet be the most dangerous of all the issues since it can lead to root rot.
Whatever you do, don’t overwater!
If inadequate light – well, fix it; you know how.
Just check your plant from time to time and avoid any maintenance issues.
You are lucky if you’ve never come across these bloody creatures.
The most typical pests that attack the star cactus are mealybugs and spider mites.
If detected early, they are rather easy to deal with.
Sometimes, washing the plant and repotting it can do the trick. However, in the later stages of infection, you can use pesticides to get rid of these.
Just be cautious with the pesticide in terms of diluting it. Never go over what is prescribed on the package no matter how severe the infection is. In addition to killing the pests, it can affect the overall plant health and you don’t want that.
Just stick to what’s written on the package and you’ll be good to go.
Before I officially wrap it up and let you finally plant your Haworthia Retusa, let me just briefly answer some of the most common questions I’ve heard related to the Haworthia Retusa care.
1. Is Haworthia Retusa harmful to dogs?
No, it is not. You can rest assured that your pests will be safe. Moreover, chances are you will keep your aloe retusa at elevated places, such as windowsills, so you don’t have to worry that the pets will reach it.
2. How big does Haworthia Retusa grow?
The maximum you can hope for is 4 – 5 inches (10 – 12 cm) wide and tall. This makes it perfect for high places on your bookshelves or mantlepieces. Another perk is that due to its size, Haworthia Retusa is a perfect plant for tiny offices, bedrooms, or living spaces in general.
3. What should I do if I overwater my Haworthia Retusa?
Let the excess water run through the pot – I believe that from all the previous writing it’s understood that the pot you choose for your Haworthia Retusa should have adequate drainage holes at the bottom. Once the water runs through, pour the excess water out. Then wait and let the plant recover.
Haworthia Retusa is one of the lovely succulents you can grow in your home with the minimum effort taken.
It’s not a demanding plant as you could see here – just give it plenty of bright indirect light, don’t overwater, and your star cactus will be more than fine.
Once you plant your own, or if you have one already, share your experiences/issues with us.
Or, maybe even some photos!