Exotic Succulents | Haworthia

Published on November 5th 2020
A vase filled with flowers sitting on top of a wooden table
Haworthia is a genus that has captivated collectors the world over. From Japan to South America, each continent currently has a group of collectors fascinated by these small succulents.
They are endemic to South Africa and thanks to pioneering work by people like Bruce Bayer we have come to realise how intricate they are. Let's find out a bit more about them, shall we?
Haworthia succulent

Most Common Haworthia

If you walk into your nearest garden centre and visit the succulent section, there is a good chance you will come across some stock standard Haworthia. Several have made it into global markets including:
These tend to grow rapidly (producing many offsets) and are easy to hybridise. If however, you find yourself enthralled by these twirling succulents, you might want to venture further down the rabbit hole. To do so, you will need a good grasp of current Haworthia taxonomy.
If taxonomy seems too complex you can skip down to the 'grow and care' guide or read more on the Worldwide collections further down.
Haworthia succulent

Understanding a name

The first thing you learn when you delve a little deeper is that there is a lot hidden in a name. Haworthia within the same species can look very dissimilar, which might prove slightly jarring to the untrained eye. In contrast, Haworthia that are genetically lightyears apart may look identical.
The process of naming a plant changes as genetic fingerprinting evolves, but to help you identify your plant we will quickly give you a guideline on what has been used (to date).
Example 1:
Haworthia cymbiformis var. transiens (JDV97/6)
  • Genus: Haworthia
  • Species: cymbiformis
  • Variant: var.transiens
  • Location accession: JDV97/6
The annotation at the end gives a location tag as to where the specimen originated. In the case where it has a rare form, it will be written as follows:
Haworthia cymbiformis f. variegata
In this case, “f” or “fa” refers to the Latin “forma” or form, which can be variegated, monstrous or cristate.
Example 2:
Haworthia cv 'Kuroshima' STC 81003/EFC 1532
  • Genus: Haworthia
  • Cultivated variety (cv): Kuroshima
  • Accession: STC 81003 (These can be registered or a reference added by the creator).
When a grower hybridises two naturally occurring species to create a hybrid, it is known as a cultivar or cultivated variety (that does not occur in nature). It can also be written as:
x Haworthia 'Golden eye' (*fictional name)
The x at the start indicates that it is a hybrid. To read more on current naming procedures visit the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants.
Haworthia succulent

Haworthia growers/hybridisers

Haworthias have been in cultivation for decades and as a result, have attracted a number of horticultural breeders. Some hybrids have become world-renowned collector's items, giving their original creator equal attention.
Here are some known breeders:
- George Theodoris from Artisan Plants
- Gerhard Marx
Licensed sellers in SA:
Breeders in Japan and Korea have extraordinary creations that are covetted the world over. The best way to observe these and new hybrids is to visit the Tokyo Succulent Show.
Haworthia succulent

Haworthia Grow and Care Guide

Haworthia species naturally occur semi-buried, under shrubs, in crevices or between rocks. This means they like bright indirect or filtered light. They occur in the drier regions of the Southwestern and Northern Cape with a shallow root system that requires little water.
Here are some guidelines:
- Soil: Extremely well-draining soil (gritty mix) in shallow containers.
- Exposure: Partial to filtered sunlight.
- Water: Weekly during the growing season.
- Feed: Liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
Haworthia pests and diseases:
Haworthias tend to produce offsets from the base of the plant, but if you are interested in learning more on coring, breeding and Haworthia-specific soil mixes then you can read more by visiting Harry Lewis extensive articles on Bonsaitree. An accompanying LDP catalogue is available on their website.
Haworthia succulent

Worldwide Collections

If you find the prospect of growing Haworthia daunting then why not visit some collections in your neck of the woods. There are some breathtakingly beautiful collections at the following locations:

If you find yourself visiting these beautiful collections or have some of your own, remember to share it using the hashtag #Haworthia!

Haworthia succulent flower
Bayer, B. (2002). Haworthia update: essays on Haworthia-volume 1. Umdaus Press.
Bayer, M. B. (1999). Haworthia handbook. Umdaus Press.
Bayer, M. B., & Van Jaarsveld, E. (2020). Haworthia ASPHODELACEAE. Monocotyledons, 769-817.
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