Haworthia Retusa (The Star Cactus Succulent)

Haworthia Retusa Image

Haworthia retusa is also called Star Cactus. Even though it is called “Star Cactus,” Haworthia retusa is a soft window succulent with translucent leaves and not a cactus plant.

haworthia retusa
Haworthia Retusa @Amazon

Star Cactus is native to Western Cape Province, a small town in South Africa. The natural environment of Haworthia retusa is a low, flat terrain.

Not only has Haworthia retusa won the hearts of millions of succulents growers around the world, but it has also won the Award of Garden Merit put together by the Royal Horticultural Society in the United Kingdom.

This article is all you need if you would like to know how to propagate and care for the Haworthia retusa.

Description of Haworthia Retusa Succulents

Haworthia retusa is a small succulent that does not grow beyond six inches in diameter. The lime green leaves of the succulent form rosettes and have translucent windows on the tips. The leaves measure approximately three inches in length and an inch in width.

The Star Cactus produces flowers with brown or green veins when it blooms in the summer or spring.

Haworthia retusa is not poisonous to pets and humans, so you can grow it indoors.

Haworthia Retusa Care

It is not difficult to please the Haworthia retusa succulent. It will survive indoors or outdoors as long as it can get an ample amount of sunlight and water. Here are some factors to consider when growing your Haworthia retusa plant:


For your Haworthia retusa to thrive indoors, it needs to be kept close to bright light. You can place the succulent pot close to an east or west-facing window to get the desired amount of light.

If you don’t have a well-lit home, the Haworthia retusa will stretch in the direction of light and become leggy. To prevent this, you should supplement your indoor lighting with a grow light.

If you are growing your Star Cactus outdoors, it would be best to plant it in a succulent pot rather than in the ground. If the weather becomes inclement, you can easily move the pot inside. Also, you can move the pot to get as much sunlight as possible.

The Star Cactus plant is better off under partial shade. But it can withstand full sun when there is no heatwave. Full sun and high heat levels can lead to sunburn and dehydration. To prevent sunburns, ensure you acclimate your succulents to full sun. About three to four weeks need to pass for the Haworthia retusa to adjust to full sun fully. But then, if your Haworthia retusa is already sunburned, the only thing you can do is to either trim off the damaged parts or allow the damaged parts to be replaced with fresh parts.


Just like most succulents, Star Cactus should not be overwatered or left in standing water to avoid root rot.

To prevent overwatering, ensure you examine the soil before watering. Stick fingers into the soil and feel the moisture content of it. For better testing, use a moisture meter to determine the moisture level of the soil.

If the soil is moist, wait for a couple of days for the soil to dry before watering again. When you allow the soil to dry before resuming watering, the natural environment of the succulent is simulated, allowing the plant to grow healthy.

Note that Haworthia retusa succulents are usually dormant during the summer. In light of this, ensure you water them just enough to prevent the leaves from drying up. During the fall, when the succulent is actively growing, you can continue your regular watering schedule.

Star Cactus can thrive in fairly high humidity. If you live in an environment with a dry climate, you do not have to bother about getting a pebble tray or humidifier to adjust the humidity level.

But then, you need to water these succulents less frequently in high humidity. The rate of evaporation will drop during this period and the soil will remain moist for longer than usual.


Haworthia retusa cannot withstand frostbite, so you must protect it from icy temperatures. While this succulent is happy with cooler temperatures in the winter, ensure you do not expose it to freezing temperatures.

Haworthia retusa can thrive in a temperature range of 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is below that range, you risk killing your plant to freezing. On the other hand, if the temperature is above that range, your Haworthia retusa succulents may suffer from sunburn.

You should consider moving your Haworthia retusa succulents indoors during the winter months when the temperature is warmer and stable.


Star Cactus cannot survive for long in wet soil. Hence, it would be best to avoid potting mix containing water-retaining ingredients such as peat moss, coconut coir, or clay. If the soil drains quickly, small portions of these ingredients will not be that harmful.

To enhance the drainage of the soil, use large particles of perlite, gravel, and coarse sand. These ingredients permit airflow to the roots of the succulents when the soil dries up.

While succulent pots with drainage holes help the soil to dry out quickly, your succulents can still survive in a pot with no drainage holes. You just have to know how to water the succulents properly and examine the soil’s moisture level.


Pruning is essential to owning any plant as it’s a great time to trim your plant while removing any imperfect areas. Pruning a Haworthia Retusa is recommended to be done each year or two unless they appear to need a good pruning before then – keep in mind that browning leaves are typical for this succulent; therefore, you will not need to prune it every time brown spots begin to appear. To prune this plant, use clean shears and gently trim off any bad spots that appear to be damaged or decaying, ensuring you’re trimming the entire affected area to reduce the possibility of it spreading.


Haworthia Retusa plants typically need to be fed once every few weeks during the warmer months and rarely ever during the colder months; however, they can withstand a feeding for up to one or two months. It’s best to use a cacti-based fertilizer for these plants as those mixtures tend to be made specifically for succulents and cacti. When purchasing the proper fertilizer, check the ingredients to ensure the mix contains phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen.

Potting & Repotting

Due to Haworthia Retusa’s being one of the slower-growing succulents, it shouldn’t need to be repotted for a few years unless needed. For instance, pest infestations, damaged leaves, root rot, etc, are good reasons to repot this plant sooner. If your Haworthia Retusa has not experienced those problems, you should always repot it after about three years to replenish the soil. Potting and repotting this plant is simple and can be done by following these recommended tips:

To pot your new Haworthia Retusa, ensure you have the correct soil and an appropriate pot. Fill the pot a little over halfway full and place in the succulent – at this time, you don’t need to bury it, just set the root on top of the soil. Around the showing root, pack down some more soil until the root is completely covered. Water it and maintain a healthy watering routine while the succulent grows.

Repotting your Haworthia Retusa is a similar routine, just with some cleaning. Remove the succulent from its current pot – giving it a light shake will help remove any extra dead leaves or remaining soil. Next, you’ll need to cut off any decaying, damaged, or torn parts of the succulent with a sharp pair of shears. Grabbing your new pot, fill it about a third with the new soil, and place the Haworthia Retusa inside. Once again, pack any extra needed soil around the plant’s root and water it.

Common Pests and Disease Problems Associated with Haworthia Retusa Succulents

Perhaps, the most difficult aspect of caring for the Star Cactus plant is watering. The chances of survival for the Haworthia retusa succulent are quite slim if it is overwatered. Hence, it is very important to check the moisture level of the soil regularly.

If the roots of this succulent start to rot due to overwatering, it will be pretty difficult to save the plant. If the roots are not yet damaged, but the leaves are becoming mushy or yellow, you can still save the succulent by removing the excess water from the pot.

To remove excess water your succulents are standing on, hold the soil with one hand and flip the container with your other hand. If the water is not that much, you can move the pot to a dry, sunny area so that the excess water will evaporate.

In a bid not to overwater your Haworthia retusa succulents, ensure you do not under-water them. If you notice that the leaves of the Star Cactus have a wrinkly or shriveled appearance, take that as a sign to up your watering game.

When it comes to pest attacks, keep an eye out for fungus gnats, spider mites, and mealybugs. Ensure that there is no decaying material in the soil that will attract these pests. Also, insecticides can help to get rid of these pests, especially at the early stages of infestation.

How to Propagate Haworthia Retusa Succulents

Haworthia retusa is quite easy to propagate. It is best to propagate this succulent when it is actively growing, so the new plants can have enough time to develop before their dormancy period. Here are the ways to propagate Haworthia retusa succulents:


Propagating Star Cactus plants from seeds require patience because seeds take time to germinate. But the process of experimenting is quite fun for succulent growers.

Plant the seeds in damp, warm soil. If these soil conditions are not met, your succulent seeds will not germinate. You can use a seed tray to cover the soil, so the seeds will always be warm.

After about three or four weeks, you will notice that the seeds are germinating. At this stage, you can remove the seed tray.

Ensure that the soil is not overwatered to prevent root rot. You can adopt the “wet and dry” technique that involves watering and waiting until the soil is dry before resuming your watering schedule.


If you got no patience to wait for seeds to germinate, you can opt for propagating by stem or leaf cuttings. This is a more effective method of propagating Haworthia retusa.

To propagate from leaf or stem cuttings, cut off a mature stem or leaf with a sterilized knife. Allow the cuttings to dry for a couple of days, so the cuts can heal. This helps to prevent infectious organisms from attacking the cuttings when they are planted.

After sticking the cuttings in the soil, do not water until you notice tiny roots springing up. If you want to speed up the root development process, dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone before sticking them in the soil.

You can water and care for the cuttings the same way you would care for a mature succulent as soon as you notice the tiny roots appear.

Bear in mind that planting a number of cuttings in a single pot will give you a vibrant array of succulents when the cuttings mature, so you should consider taking more than a handful of cuttings for propagation.


Propagating Haworthia retusa by offsets is the easiest way to go. If you follow the watering, lighting, and temperature conditions mentioned above, your Haworthia retusa will produce offsets in no time.

You can cut off these offsets with a sterilized blade or pluck them from the plant with your fingers. Ensure you go as close as possible to the parent plant when cutting off the offsets. This will help the offsets in forming roots quickly and increase their chances of survival.

Plant the offsets in a different pot and nurture them the same way you would nurture a mature succulent.


Haworthia Retusa is not known to be a toxic plant; however, it still should not be ingested. This plant will not harm children or pets if you choose to keep in located indoors. Do remember that Haworthia’s contain an irritating sap that can cause the skin to become red, itchy, and irritated if touched without protective wear.


Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand the proper care a Haworthia Retusa needs while presenting clear descriptions proving how easy this succulent is to care for. If you have a Haworthia Retusa or are interested in adopting one, consider referring back to this read for a clear-cut layout on how to keep your succulent happy!

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

4 thoughts on “Haworthia Retusa (The Star Cactus Succulent)

  1. I have grown this variety of succulent (Haworthia Retusa) for more than 10 years, and still have the first original plant, which has produced hundreds of pups, however none have bloomed. How can I get them to produce blooms?

    1. Wow, welcome to the 10 years club 🙂 With that amount of time, they definitely produce hundreds of pups. In order for a plant to produce flowers, they need more ‘plant food’. Normally, they take that from the photosynthesis process, which is by getting adequate sunlight during growth season. Make sure to get about 6 hours of full but not scorching sun for this plant during its blooming season (usually spring and summer, be careful with sunburn in summer). Also, if you feel like the plant needs a little push, add a bit of diluted fertilizer to the succulent. A few additional reads that might be suitable for digging further:
      The Only Succulent Fertilizer Guidebook You Need
      Organic Succulent Fertilizers For Naturally Feeding Your Succulents
      Everything You Need To Know About Succulent Flowers
      Do Succulents Need Sunlight? How Much Sunlight Do Succulents Need?

  2. I think there is an error on this page.

    You say: “But then, you need to water these succulents more frequently in high humidity. The rate of evaporation will drop during this period and the soil will remain moist for longer than usual.”

    I believe you MEANT to say “But then, you need to water these succulents ** LESS ** frequently in high humidity. The rate of evaporation will drop during this period and the soil will remain moist for longer than usual.

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