Haworthia Retusa

Haworthia Retusa – Detailed Care Guide

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.

Caring for Your Haworthia Retusa Succulents

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 more 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, where 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.

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 a 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” watering 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.

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.

What is a Cactus Plant?

What is a Cactus?

The cactus is a very popular plant, no questions about that, right?

Among the more than 10,000 succulent species out there, cacti steal the show with just how every plant enthusiast is on the prowl on grabbing at least one of them. They surely reign supreme not just in the succulents’ circles but the whole houseplants empire.

You have one sitting around, right? Definitely. I know we do.

So, it’s only prudent that you at least have a little bit of more information about your plant. Here it is.

What is a Cactus?
cactus on cactus on cactus @olivra.cactusucculents

Why is it Named “Cactus”?

Cactus is a Latin-inspired word from the ancient Greek life. Back then, kaktos was the word used to refer to a spiky plant that was prevalent in Sicily.

But as time will have it, the name gradually became a reference to the present day plants we know, most which are desert dwellers in the wild.

Cactus in the Botany World

In scientific terms, cactus belongs to the family— Cactaceae. This family is a vast collection under which there are more than 120 genera and an upwards of 1,700 species.

Though the majority here grow in arid and semiarid areas, a select few cacti thrive in tropical regions with far much better conditions for lush growth.

Here’s an article depicting the difference between cacti and succulents.

What is a Cactus?
stand tall @thornlesscactus_

Origin of Cactus

Cacti are largely endemic to the American continents. The whole regions from north to south are home to dozens of known cactus plants.

The northern limit stretches all the way to Western Canada. In the south, the cacti cover extends to Chile, British Columbia, Alberta Argentina and Patagonia.

Mexico takes the lion’s share, as the country native to the most species of cacti.

The only cactus without its roots in these regions is the Rhipsalis Baccifera, which has been found to be a native of parts of East Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka.

Before we continue, we wanted to share this awesome opportunity from Amazon, in honor of our recent partnership with the online- giant! For a limited time, Amazon is offering a FREE 30-day trial of their famous Amazon Prime Membership. Get full access to all the perks, including FREE 2-day shipping on all eligible products. Click this link to learn more and sign up today!

What is a Cactus?
pickles? Or cacti? @houseplantcanvas

General Characteristics of Cacti

Most cacti are adapted to thrive in conditions of little water. The following are the physical attributes that make this possible. Of course, there are exceptions which form just a small part of the cactus type.

If you need some additional help on when to water your succulents, we have the perfect article for you!

What is a Cactus?
bright and sunny @houstonpetals

Short Growing Season and Long Periods of Dormancy

Water availability (rather lack of it) is a strong contributor to this. The growing seasons coincide with periods of rain, which are obviously short-lived. Consequently, the plants have to use this limited time (and the additional vital resource) to develop.

Growth is put on hold as soon the rains are over to preserve as much water as possible.

When it’s time to repot your cactus, check out this article!

A Shallow Root System

This is very important in the desert ecosystem, where rains are far apart. The roots are found near the surface and spread out over a large area so that any water droplets are immediately sucked up and stored.

What is a Cactus?
careful where you walk… @natizxy

Highly Modified Leaves in the Form of Spines

Most cacti are devoid of leaves. Instead, they possess spikes that serve a number purposes

  • They deter desert herbivores from feeding on them
  • Reduce loss of water from the stem by being hindrances to free flow of air around the plant.

The spikes also serve as distinctive features of different cacti plants. By looking at them, you can be able to tell which plant it is that you’re handling. That’s by observing properties like color, number, shape, size and hardness.

Just in case you may be a little clumsy (like some us here), here’s a useful pair of tweezers that have help us pull out a cactus thorn… or two.

What is a Cactus?
too cute to eat @marj.jpg

Store Water in Their Stems

Succulents typically store water in their leaves. But for cacti, their reduced leaves come up short on size.

So, the stem is the part equipped for this function. The presence of spikes and a waxy cuticle greatly reduces the amount that is lost in the air.

The stem is also a food factory for the plant.

Here’s a more in-depth conversation about what adaptations a cactus has. Check it out! And here’s a useful watering bottle for when your cacti become thirsty!

What is a Cactus?
an army of cacti @theboskycompany

Specialized Branches in the Form of Areoles

Areoles are a feature specific to cacti. They are small hairy structures found on the stems.

From the areoles, spikes and flowers emerge. Areoles on the lower parts of the stem become inactive after a few years leaving those at the terminals to keep up with their function.

What is a Cactus?
photogenic cactus @viverolafelicidad

More Than Just Ornamental Plants— Uses of Cacti

Of course cacti are grown for the main reason of raising the aesthetic appeal of a place – be it a home or an office. Or as a hobby.

Here’s a few planters we love tat would look great in your house! Check out this one with a bamboo archway, these cute minimalistic ceramic pots, or even this festive cactus pot!

The large number of species really does provide more than enough options in terms of color, shape and size. But then this same number is a gateway to more cacti benefits. Have a look.

And if you’re curious… Here’s our interpretation of what it means if someone gifts you a cactus!

What is a Cactus?
it’s a cactus… inside of a cactus! @uurscactuses


Cacti are a known source of food in many regions across the world. Generally, any fleshy fruit from a cactus is a potential savory delight.

Apart from fruits, flowers and pads of some cacti species are edible. The Indian Fig Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) is one of the plants whose fruits and pads can be munched. It is widely recognized for this in Mexico and parts of Africa. Check out this edible Prickly Pear Cactus.

Other cacti grown for food are Carnegiea Gigantea, Stenocereus Queretaoensis, Hylocereus Undatus among others.

Cacti can even become a part of your daily beauty routine, with this antioxidant serum!

Fodder / Forage

Human beings are not the only beneficiaries of the edible nature of some cacti. Livestock too enjoy a mouthful of these desert vegetation. But first, the spines will have to be removed. Manadacaru (Cereus Jamacaru) is the most common cactus for this purpose.

What is a Cactus?
bloomin’ cactus @thetrexgarden


The medicinal properties of cacti are just limitless. Among the numerous species, there are a host of them that can be used to combat common illnesses effectively. They are:

  • Night-blooming Cereus whose stems and flowers are processed to manufacture medicine for urinary tract infections
  • Peyote whose extracts play a role in regulating blood pressure and sleep
  • Prickly Pear which is used to treat a range of conditions like indigestion, burned wounds and oedema. Here’s our article devoted to the Prickly Pear!

Other common uses include fencing and making alcoholic drinks (fermenting fruit syrup).

What is a Cactus?
Lime green cactus! @mook_cactus

What do you think? Are you ready to own a cactus (or add 10 more to your already existing collection)?

Let us help you get started! Have you heard of Succulents Box? They offer more than 200 varieties of succulents and cacti, that are organically grown in California, along with monthly subscription boxes of fresh succulents and air plants! Starting at just $5/month, you could be on your way to creating a beautiful succulent garden, all from the comfort of shopping at home! Click this link to learn more about Succulents Box and start your subscription today! 

Want to continue expanding your cacti knowledge? Check out these additional Succulent City articles — How to Check if Your Cactus is Dying, How to Make Your Own Succulent Soil at Home, 9 Rare Cacti That’s Hard to Find, or What is the Purpose of Thorns on a Cactus Plant + many, many more on our website!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to join our ever- growing succulent community on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

Calling all succulents/cacti lovers— rookie or veteran! Succulent City has developed a line of 12 ebooks (see here), ranging on topics from indoor & outdoor succulents, essential tools, the best soil to use, and more! We even threw in a complimentary ebook to help get your succulent journey started you just have to insert your email on our front page for this. With our ebooks you’ll be a succulent guru in no time, have fun!

Happy planting! ?

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus (Succulent Tips)

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus

What comes to mind when you think about an old lady? Especially when it has to do with a cactus? You may be trying to make the connection between a prickly plant and a sweet old soul. All it takes is one look at the Old Lady Cactus, especially when it is flowering, for it all to come together.

Keep on reading to find out our tips on taking care of the Old Lady Cactus.

Mammillaria Hahniana

The Old Lady Cactus also goes by the name Mammillaria Hahniana. The Mammillaria family has around 200 species of cacti, most being native to Mexico. The Old Lady Cactus is a part of the Cactaceae family. Being easy to take care of the Old Lady Cactus, it is a much-loved choice to add to any garden, both indoors and outdoors!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady and her flowers. @dr.rika_jikken.kun

Old Lady Cactus Characteristics

The Mammillaria Hahniana features stunning spherical stems that are covered in sharp white spines and white down. These spheres grow to be around 4 inches tall, and 5 inches wide, though over several years this can evolve to a height of up to 10 inches. 

This is one cactus that does not like being lonely, and often grows in groups, creating a collection of spheres. Then something happens in the spring and summer. What was simply a spiky looking ‘ball’ plant, begins to take on a new look. They flower with reddish purple flowers forming a crown at the top of the plants. Nevertheless, these flowers look like a perfect headband, creating a halo effect on the cactus.

Want to add the Old Lady Cactus to your collection of succulents? Here is everything you need to know to ensure they thrive!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Beautiful old lady cactus plant in pot. @katelovesplants

Does the Old Lady Cactus Need Water?

There is a time for everything, and the same applies to watering your Old Lady Cactus. How do you know the right time though? Well, you need to make sure that the soil is quite dry when determining if you need to water your succulent. If you feel the soil and there is even a touch of moisture, do not put any water on your plant.

Once the soil feels totally dry to the touch, water the cactus. Make sure the water goes all the way through the soil. Your pot needs to have proper drainage holes– check out these little pots we found. The plant should not be left sitting in water as this could lead to root rot and eventually kill it, which is why drainage is a must.

Seasons affect watering as well. The cooler the weather, the less water that your plant will need. Spring and summer are the best time to water your plant. In winter, do not water your Old Lady Cactus. As you keep reading, you will see why.


Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Top view of the old lady cactus plant. @plant.accordingly

What Soil is Required for the Old Lady Cactus?

Water retention can really affect the growth of your cacti, so your choice of soil is quite important. You need soil that will drain relatively fast, is porous, and it should be rich in nutrients as well. Look for a commercial cactus mix, like this one we swear by, for the very best results. A mixture that is sandy in texture would be the best option.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Pink flowers blooming on old lady cactus plant. @that_sunshinelife

Feed Your Old Lady Cactus with Fertilizer

Timing is everything when it comes to feeding your cacti with fertilizer. Cacti goes through growing seasons, with the spring and the summer being the time the cacti grow. In the winter, growth comes to a standstill.

Fertilizer should only be added during the growing season for one simple reason. Blooming flowers!! Too much fertilizer will inhibit the flowers blooming on your cactus. Less is more, and it is better to use a liquid fertilizer with this plant– try this one from Miracle- Gro. Try and make sure you use a fertilizer with a high potassium content as this will help the plant thrive. In the winter when the plant is dormant, save up on your feed – your cacti doesn’t need it.

Sometimes we will use fertilizer if we see that our succulents or cacti need a bit of help in order to get back on their roots.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus covered with white webbing. @toomanyplants

Propagating Your Old Lady Cactus

The best way to start your journey with an Old Lady Cactus is by propagating it, the right way. The Mammillaria Hahniana will thrive from offsets. These are the smaller spheres which are found at the base of the older plants. To properly propagate, here is what you can do.

  • Put on some thick gardening gloves.
  • Find the smallest of the offsets and gently remove it from the main plant.
  • Keep the offset on some dry tissue in a dry place.
  • Leave it there a few days to allow it to dry out.
  • Where you cut off the offset from the main plant, place some rooting hormone.
  • Take a small pot and add some cactus mix (a special soil that offers the right drainage for the plant)
  • Plant the offset in this pot.
  • Give it a little water each week, for around four weeks.

While you are propagating, remember to keep your cactus away from bright light, especially direct sunlight. You can expose it again once you have noted that it has taken root and continued to grow on its own.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus in terra-cotta planter. @wild_about_cactus

Achieve Optimal Health by Repotting your Old Lady Cactus

There is so much happening above the soil, with the perfect sphere and bright flowers being what you see. If you want to really tell how well your cacti is doing, you need to peek below the surface as well. Repotting at least once a year can help keep your plant alive and give it the room it needs to grow.

The warm season is the best time to repot. Take the plant gently out of the soil, though keep in mind that the soil needs to be dry first. When the plant is out of the pot, you will be able to identify the roots which have died, or which may be rotting. Nevertheless, cut these off and on these cuts, place a fungicide.

Then gently brush aside as much of the old soil as you can. In a new pot, place the cacti and add some potting soil. Some popular pots you can use are terra cotta planters, find some here for your home. Once done, leave the cacti in the pot, and after around a week, you can water it a little. Moreover, the reason for not watering right after you repot is to avoid the roots getting rot. They need some time to settle into the fresh soil or cactus mix.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus with other cacti. @wild_about_cactus

Getting Your Mammillaria to Flower

The bright flowers of this cactus are what really give it character. So, when taking care of your Old Lady Cactus, you will want to do everything possible to get those flowers to emerge. You need to plan around the seasons.

Want to know how these lovely flowers are formed? The Old Lady Cactus features tubercles, and this is where the spines come from. The tubercles can expand and store water, and from the axils in the tubercles, flowers emerge. Remember the tips on watering? Make sure not to expose your cactus to too much water!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus blooming pink flowers. @cluelessmoose

The Correct Light Exposure for Old Lady Cacti

Like other cacti, this plant thrives when exposed to sunlight. However, too much sunlight, and the old lady cactus starts to look a little sad. Ideally, around four to six hours of direct sunlight each day is all that this plant needs. This means that it will do well if left outdoors. It should have a few taller plants around it to give it a little bit of shade and protection, especially in the hotter months.

Making sure that it is constantly exposed to even light through the day is the ideal solution if you are growing this plant indoors. Find a place that gets constant and consistent light and position the plant next to a window. If you live in a place where getting consistent sunlight is an issue, then it would be best to have a grow light close to your plants.

That grow light we linked above is part of our office that doesn’t have much light, it works wonders for the growth of those corner plants we have!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Cactus with white webbing. @yorufujin

Taking care of the Old Lady Cactus is simple, and its unique beauty makes it a favorite for anyone who appreciates succulents! This is one plant that will do well whether indoors or outdoors, and it needs only a little water to keep it going.

Want to take a chance at growing this stunning cactus? Just keep coming back and read over this article as many times as you need to. Also, check out other featured articles we have, like How to Tell if Your Cactus is Dying, and How to Propagate your Succulent Successfully for some extra tips!

Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers or even Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth today!

Thank you so much for checking out this old lady, she’s so wonderful, isn’t she? Anyways, happy planting! ?

How Often To Water a Cactus: Essential Guide

How Often To Water Cactus

If you were to ask anyone to describe the cacti plants in the simplest way, they will most possibly include the words; thick, spiked, dry and desert. And in that simple definition, you will conclude that these plants are sturdy plants that can survive unrelenting climatic conditions. Nothing here is disputable. As a matter of fact, every character mentioned so far is correct. However, it’s not the only description these lovely plants deserve.

Most people actually fail to realize that cactus plants are a very vast and broad family of plants with more than 100 differing species under its belt. One kind is unique to the next, but all share a similarity of having thick, plump, fleshy stems. And another awesome thing about cacti is that they can survive almost all environments making suitable for household planting. As long as all their needs are met, they could add sparkle to your house window sill or your office desktop. Check out “9 Types of Cacti” to see more kinds of cacti out there.

How Often To Water Cactus
Spiral Cactus @ohiotropics

Why Cacti Love Water So Much!

Just like other plants, cacti need water for their survival. Their characteristic, fleshy appearance is as a result of the presence of h20 within its cells. The mere factor that they are hardy plants and are quite low-maintenance presents itself as both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that, for one with not so much time for plant care in their hands, they can still keep the little beauties. And a curse in that there is a thin line between under and overwatering them. Take a look at “When You Should Water Your Succulents” for more tips on watering your cactus. And many are the times we face the predicament on how often to water them. Well, we assure you that it is not as mindbending as you presume, but more straightforward than you could ever imagine!

Be sure to check out our Ebook “The Correct Way to Water Succulents” for a full guide to watering your succulents.

Factors That Influence The Watering Schedule Of Your Cactus

The Soil Composition

These plants flourish in a well-draining, sufficiently ventilated coarse, gritty, loose, sandy soil. The soil must be light-weight with a minimal composition of organic matter. And we all know that mixing water and decomposing matter is a bad idea. It promotes root rot, eventually killing your cactus crop. The porous nature of your soil mix encourages fast water flowing such that the soil dries faster, allowing proper aeration. This means the more granular your soil mix is, the more frequent the watering.

Don’t know what root rot is? Well take a look at “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix It?” for more info to protecting your succulents from rotting.

How Often To Water Cactus
Flowering Cactus @amazing__plants

The Season

Of the four seasons, cacti plants thrive in the warmer ones: summer and spring when the watering is mostly done. This is because, during these seasons, the atmosphere is hotter. Consequently, the evaporation of water from the soil and the plant itself is at its highest making the soil dry. The colder seasons, however, the air is cooler, and evaporation is on the lower side; hence, the soil will lose less water. Undespitudedly, the watering is more frequent during the warmer seasons as compared to the colder seasons.

Check out how some succulents are able to survive in desert conditions like parts of Mexico in “5 Most Popular Succulents From Mexico“.

The Cactus Growing Cycle

Every plant has a time in their life cycle that the growth is most active and durations when they go into dormancy. The productive seasons is when the plant grows upwards, blooms and even produces seeds giving rise to new offsprings. On the other hand, during their dormancy, the plants’ growth slows down and preserves its energy getting ready for the active periods. And this influences how often one should water the cactus. This, consequently, goes without saying that irrigation is more frequent during its production cycle.

Additionally, younger cacti plants require more water because of their faster growth rate. Thinking of growing those succulent plants at home? Check out “How to Successfully Grow Indoor Succulents” for more.

Location Of The Cactus Plant

This simply entails where the plant has been cultivated; indoors, outdoors, in a planter, or the ground. A cactus plant grown outside will be watered more regularly because of moving air which carries moisture from the soil. As compared to its counterpart grown indoors, where the wind does not move more freely in the confinements of walls. Cacti plants borne in containers and the ground are both watered when the soil becomes dry. But the rate at which the dirt dries will be determined by other weather conditions. Notwithstanding, watering must be done to bypass the drying off of your plant. Take a look at “5 Succulents You can Grow in a Coffee Mug” for techniques in growing your succulent in different places.


How Often To Water Cactus
Echeveria Setosa Deminuta @nurcan.srbs

Exposure To Light

It has been known that light goes hand in hand with the production of heat energy. This means that the more the exposure, the more radiation is produced, and the faster the transpiration and evaporation. A cactus plant and the soil exposed longer will, therefore, lose more water. And that dictates that the irrigation will be done more often since the soil will dry faster. Plants bred under grow lights will go by the same principle. The more the exposure, the more the watering. Do you grow your cactus under a grow light? Check out “Best Grow Lights Reviewed by Succulent Lovers”.

Be sure to check out our Ebook “Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth” for a full tutorial in lighting for your plants.


The higher the humidity, the lower the rate of evaporation. And the lower the humidity, the higher the dissipation. Humid air contains a large amount of moisture within itself, which simply means there will be no space for evaporated water to occupy. And the vice-versa is so in a dry humid atmosphere.

Size Of Cacti Plant

A bigger cactus plant has a smaller surface area to volume ratio, which decreases the amount of water that is evaporated. More miniature cactus, on the other hand, lose much water, meaning they will require more watering. Want to know more about larger sized cactus, go to “3 Popular Large Succulents You Don’t Have” for more.

Type and Size Of Pot

The size of the pot will determine the number of times you will water your cactus in a week. Bigger containers with more soil mix will obviously need a higher water volume to wet the entire cactus pot. Although one should make sure the soil is porous not to harbor any extra water.

What the container will also influence is the rate at which you will water your crops. For instance, terracotta pots have porous walls that seep up water, which is evaporated through their walls. This dramatically reduces the time the potting mix takes to dry out completely.

Plastic containers, on the other hand, trap moisture, increasing the time duration between watering.


How Often To Water Cactus
Indoor Garden @tiendafloralia

Just like other succulents, a cactus plant should never be misted using spray bottles. Instead, they are watered in two ways. First, the pot is put inside a saucer with water and let to soak water up. The second method, and most common is watering the crop by soaking the soil surface. You should never water the plant overhead. Water contact with the plant should be at a minimum to avoid the onset of mold.

Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments below how you care for your cactus during the summer or spring season. Be sure to also check out related content for your gardening needs in “Repotting Succulents— the Right Way“, “6 Best Fertilizers for Succulents”, or “Best Gardening Tools for Succulents“.

Did this article on how often to water cacti help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor & Outdoor” or even “6 Most Important Tips to Grow Succulents”  today! 

Happy planting! ?

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave Ovatifolia

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia

If you are looking for a succulent to fill up your outdoor garden space or to line up your driveway, then the Agave is probably the succulent you are looking for.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue Garden @og_agave

The Whale’s Tongue

The Whale’s Tongue type of the Agave Genus succulents is an evergreen perennial succulent that grows up to 5 feet above the ground and acquires a maximum width of 6 feet. The succulent’s foliage grows into a rounded rosette of short, broad grey leaves that take up a distinctively cupped shape. The leaves have teeth-like smaller spikes along its edges. At the center of the rosettes grows a 1-inch dark grey terminal spine that holds the flower of the plant. During the flowering season, the spine grows to a height of 14 feet above the ground with greenish-yellow flowers at the top.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Agave ovatifolia and Sedum ‘Lemon Ball’ @greenlakenurseryt

Geographical And Name Origin

The Agave Ovatifolia traces its nativity to the North American regions of Mexico. The specific name of this succulent comes from the Latin words ‘ovatus’ for “egg” and ‘folius’ for “leaves.” The title refers to the broad ovate leaves and the common name, whale’s tongue agave, also describes the leaf shape.

Take a look at other succulents from Mexico in “5 Most Popular Succulents From Mexico”.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue in Nature @botanizeme

How To Care For Whale’s Tongue Succulent

The Whale’s Tongue species is a hardy crop that does not require hands-on and around the clock care. The succulent is a slow-growing yet dramatic plant and will thrive in a bit of neglect. The plant is easy to grow, even under the harshest of conditions.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue doesn’t require much attention @cyphouter


This species is propagated either by seed or by bulbils. Unlike the rest in the genus that are generated by offsets. The spreads are collected after the flowering phase has ended. Although this may take a while, owing to the fact that this species is a perennial succulent. Meaning they live long lives of three or more years. The flowering mostly takes place on their second year of growth, and they die off after the blooming phase is over.

Check out our EbookThe Right Way to Propagating Succulents Successfully” for a full guide on propagating your succulents correctly.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Agave ovatifolia @og_agave

Best Soil Mix

The Whale’s Tongue species does well in any fast-draining, well-ventilated, and well-fertilized soil mix. This succulent does well in almost all soil pH values. Although their preference lies on the neutral rocky and sandy soils. Just like most of its counterparts’ succulent plants, the shallow roots need to be periodically in contact with moisture and air. The ideal growing medium should be coarse, gritty, and lightweight as compact soil inhibits air circulation. Compact soil also promotes waterlogging, which may lead to the roots rotting. Check out “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?” for more tips on taking care of your succulent pot.


What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue environment @botanizeme

Best Lighting Conditions

This succulent flourishes in either full exposure or partial sunlight. The hotter the climate, the more shade they require. Otherwise, if exposure is too intense, the leaves grow tilted upwards compacting the rosette, making them appear smaller. This is evident as in the hotter seasons the succulent grows smaller and widens as the temperatures lower as you approach the much colder seasons of autumn and winter.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Blueish tone Agave @sacredelements

Best Watering Conditions

The Agave Ovatifolia watering schedule is more frequent when the plant is in its early life stages. At this growing phase, the watering is done every four to five days a month. But as it matures the exercise is spaced out to at least once or twice a month. At maturity, the watering is done scarcely owing to the fact that this succulent is drought resistant. If the plant is on a larger scale, an irrigation system is ideal for watering. But in the case it is on a smaller and more manageable size, using a water hose to thoroughly soak the soil with water once or twice a month is ideal.

The watering is, however, done according to the weather. The watering is ideally best during the summer when the plant experiences it’s most active phase. But during the winter watering is reduced only to maintain the turgidity of the leaves, and is done only when the soil is dried.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Cacti Garden @hamiltongardens

Fertilizer Application

This particular species does not require any fertilizer application as long as the soil mix is well maintained. However, if one intends to maximize its growth in the shortest time possible a 10:10:10 fertilizer is the most suitable choice. The best way to administer the fertilizer into the soil is by diluting the fertilizer with water. And applying it as you water your succulent.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
5 ft. Whale Tongue @agaveobsessed

Pest And Disease Control

The Agave Ovatifolia’s hardiness plays to the advantage that the succulent is tolerant to most pests. The exception, however, is the agave snout weevil that burrows into the center of the plant and lays its eggs there. This disrupts a healthy crop’s basic needs by damaging the tissues and results in the collapse of the succulent. Unfortunately, the pest infestation is noticed long after too much damage has been done. The grower then has no choice but to entirely uproot the succulent and kill all the grub to avoid further spread of the pest infestation.

As a preventive measure, consider completely quarantining the younger succulents. Consider repotting them into a new soil mix, disposing of the old soil mix. Need more tips to repot your succulents? Check out “Repotting Succulents— the Right Way” for a full guide.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Whale Tongue in the shade @denray3


The pruning of your whale’s tongue succulent is ideally done at the end of the winter season to give space to new growth. The central aspect of trimming off is to avoid overcrowding of the leaves, reshaping the crop and the removal of dead leaves. As well as eliminating any other damaged spears to create more room. The cutting should be done using a clean, sharp knife to make clean cuts to reduce the eventuality of bacteria, fungi, or virus entry into the crop. Check out these shears we found just for this cutting task.

Take great caution, though to avoid over trimming. Cutting too much of the succulent stresses the plant impeding its ability to store water. Therefore, besides pruning the affected leaves, cut only the healthy ones only if they pose a danger to passersby.

Be sure also to wear protective gloves as the succulent contains a sap that tends to irritate the skin on contact. Also, wear protective gear such as an overall to protect your hands and legs from being scratched by the sharp tips.

Be sure to also check out “How To Prune Succulents” for more guide to pruning your Whale’s Tongue.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Outdoor Whale’s Tongue Repotted @nancylovesnature


Repotting an Agave Ovatifolia is not necessary in case it is in the ground. But if the area is susceptible to disease or pest infestation, then repotting may be a necessity. To repot, you require the right soil mix that is well-drained and well ventilated. Secondly, you will need the right tools to carry out the activity, such as the proper attire, a sharp knife, a hand trowel, and for the bigger, more mature ones, a shovel.

First, you moisten the soil before uprooting the succulent. Then gently, remove the dirt away from the plant’s roots to dislodge the crop slowly and carefully using your hands. Slowly remove the plant from the ground and gently remove the excess dirt from the roots. Next, you place the plant into the new soil and plant it shallowly and keep the crown above the soil line. And after you have wholly anchored your crop, water the succulent entirely and provide it with ample sunshine.

This activity should ideally be done during the active phase of the succulent so that the plant can flourish in the shortest time possible. Take a look at “Best Gardening Tools for Succulents” for more tips on repotting your succulents.

What Is A Whale’s Tongue? Agave ovatifolia
Succulent Outside @thedangergarden

Safety Measures

Owing to the fact that the Whale’s Tongue species have sharp tips on their leaves that edged with teeth like tapered sections, a few safety measures need to be watched. Whether the succulent is on a large scale or small scale, it should be planted away from foot traffic. The needle-sharp leaf tips are a hazard to both humans and pets. The plant, therefore, should not be planted along walkways and paths. But instead may be grown further into the garden or behind a well-fenced garden.

Caution is observed when handling the replanting, pruning, or repotting of the succulent. The handler should be well dressed in a long-sleeved shirt, have long pants on, well-covered shoes, sturdy gloves, and safety glasses when handling this succulent. Above all, they should take great caution not to injure themselves when carrying out the activities mentioned above.

So now that you know quite a bit about the Whale’s Tongue succulent, you can now confidently grow one on your lawn and take care of it the best way you can. It is not as hard as you thought, right!

Thank you for reading with us! Find out about more exciting outdoor succulents in “3 Popular Large Succulents You Don’t Have” or “5 Best Outdoor Succulents“. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more succulent-loving fun. We’ll see you there.

If you liked this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.Check out our collection of 12 ebooks here!

Happy Planting! ?