Do Haworthia Like To Be Root Bound? (+When & How To Repot)


Lots of plants enjoy being slightly root-bound. But no plant will enjoy staying in a root-bound situation for a long time. If you own a Haworthia, it might have struck you whether Haworthia likes to be rootbound or not. 

In general, Haworthias prefers to stay slightly root-bound, but it is crucial to repot them when their roots start coming out of the drainage holes. If your haworthia stays root bound for longer, it will drain water quickly and experience nutrient deficiency, dehydration, and stunted growth.

If you are a beginner at growing Haworthia, it will turn rootbound at some point, both indoors and outdoors. Read this article to understand the signs of rootbound, identify them, and save the plant from severe damage.

Haworthia root bound

What does a root bound plant mean?

A rootbound plant is a plant whose roots run out of space and grow in a circular motion.

When and How To Repot A Plant
When and How To Repot A Plant

In the worst conditions, these roots will grow out of the drainage holes or show over the soil surface.

When you see signs of a rootbound Haworthia, lift the pot and take the plant out of it.

We will notice the growth of roots in a circular motion around the root ball. 

There will be barely any soil left if the plant remains rootbound for too long.

Only roots will be seen. But, if there is lots of soil, your plant is fine.

However, you don’t need to worry when you see the circular motion of root growth as there are different phases of rootbound.

Only when the plant shows signs of underwatering must you understand that your Haworthia is severely rootbound and need to repot it.

Does Haworthia like to be root bound?

A slightly rootbound state is not a problem.

Some varieties of Haworthia, for example, Haworthia Attenuate, will like to stay slightly rootbound.

But when the plant reveals signs of underwatering despite getting proper watering, it means they are extremely rootbound.

Haworthia might experience lots of problems due to being rootbound.

The plant will stop growing, and in worse conditions, it may die.

Whenever you see any signs of rootbound, like roots coming from drainage holes, check the roots to confirm the problem and repot the plant as soon as possible.

How do I know if my Haworthia is rootbound?

When Haworthias are rootbound, you cannot see the condition of the roots inside the containers.

So, to let you know, the plant will show some symptoms:

Swelling container

It is one of the most common signs of a rootbound Haworthia.

Generally, these succulents need to be re-potted every 2-3 years. 

Since they are slow-growers, they don’t require frequent re-potting.

But if you don’t re-pot them for more than 3 to 4 years, the roots will fight for space and start to grow by pushing the container from inside.

As a result, the pot will look swollen and puffy.

Water will drain very quickly.

Another sign of rootbound.

When you water the plant, you will notice that water immediately comes out of the drainage holes.

It means that there is barely any soil left in the container.

That is why the water you gave just roamed about between the roots and came out immediately from the holes.

Dehydration

When the water flows out of the planter so quickly, it means the plant is not getting water.

Due to this, they will undergo dehydration and display signs of underwatering:

  • Brown leaves at the bottom
  • Dry and crispy leaves
  • Shriveled appearance
  • Thick leaves will become thinner

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The roots will emerge from the drainage holes.

When you face the above problems, try to check the bottom of the pot once.

You will notice that some roots have started growing out of the drainage holes.

If you are unaware of this problem, the roots will block the drainage holes, and the plant might experience overwatering.

Due to the blockage of the drainage holes, the water will remain stagnant in the root portion and rot them. 

How will rootbound harm my Haworthia?

Haworthia wilting

Here’s how the rootbound state can have harmful effects on Haworthia.

There will be no soil.

When the plant becomes rootbound, roots will be more than the soil. 

Due to this, when you water the plant, the water quickly drains out from the drainage holes, and the plant will suffer dehydration.

Even if you give them a good drink frequently, you will not see the underwatering signs diminishing.

Once the roots come out of the drainage holes too much, it will block the hole and result in overwatering.

At such a moment, frequent watering will cause overwatering.

As the roots of Haworthia must experience a dry environment, staying in such wet conditions will rot the roots.

Nutrient deficiency

Haworthias will experience a nutrient deficiency if they stay rootbound. 

As no or very little soil will remain, the plant won’t get nutrients.

The fertilizer will also drain out of the drainage holes and burn the roots.

Stunted growth

Due to the above problems, the plant’s growth and development will be interrupted.

As a result, the plant will stop growing.

The roots might get damaged.

When Haworthia gets too rootbound, the roots grow in a circular motion and stay compact.

When you try to unweave them, the roots might get damaged due to the force.

Damaged leaves won’t be as bad as damaged roots.

Roots are an integral part.

If the leaves are damaged, they will grow back only if the roots are fine.

But if the roots are badly damaged, the plant will die.

That is why you must repot Haworthia before this kind of situation arrives.

The plant gets a signal of dying.

Most gardeners don’t give much attention to rootbound succulents, especially slow-growers like Haworthia.

Haworthia is a slow-growing plant, but it will need repotting after some years.

If you don’t repot the plant, it will stop growing.

As a result, it will try to save its species by producing offspring.

The plant will start producing flowers and seeds.

Some gardeners sometimes don’t understand the motive behind blooming and allow the plant to bloom.

It is force blooming. After that, the plant will die.

What is the best soil for Haworthia?

If you have not repotted Haworthia ever or will do it for the first time, you must know the best kind of soil for Haworthia.

At this point, I will share with you some best soil mixes which will keep the succulent healthy in the long term.

The soil for Haworthia should be:

  • Well-drained
  • Porous
  • Must hold moisture for at least 4-5 days
  • Must not clog

A few ideal soil mixes are:

Recipe 1

Equal parts of:

Recipe 2

Recipe 3

These soil mixes will not only look after the drainage but will also give the plant adequate nutrients.

Also read: What Soil To Use For Haworthia? (+Ideal Soil Mix)

How to repot and save a rootbound Haworthia?

Haworthias are slow-growing succulents.

So, they won’t get root bound so quickly.

You can sit back and relax for at least 2-3 years.

But, after that, remember to repot. It will save the plant from an extreme rootbound state and other stresses.

We have discussed a step-by-step guide below to repot a rootbound Haworthia. 

Things required:

  • A bigger container
  • A sterilized knife
  • Your Haworthia
  • The soil mix 
  • A brush 
  • Gardening gloves
  • Water 

Step 1

The first and foremost step for repotting is to choose the right season.

When you repot a plant, it goes through a transplant shock due to the change of its growing environment.

Haworthia will quickly recover the transplant shock and come back to its health if you repot in their actively growing seasons.

The best time for repotting is spring.

Step 2

For repotting, take the plant out of the pot.

It might not come out quickly after so many years of stay.

First, tap the sides of the container to loosen the soil from the edges.

If stubborn, use a sterilized knife to poke and loosen the soil.

You can turn the pot upside down or squeeze the pot (if it is plastic) to ease it from the edges.

Step 3

After taking the plant out, remove the maximum amount of soil from the roots.

Many gardeners wash the roots to remove the soil, let it dry for 1-2 days and then plant it.

You can do it, but there might be a risk of the roots getting too much dry. 

So, instead of washing the roots, use a brush you remove the soil.

Step 4

Since the plant is rootbound, the roots might have grown in a circular motion.

You have to untangle them slowly.

Gradually and carefully, using neat hands, separate the roots.

Let the stubborn roots stay alone if they are not detangling.

Step 5

Some damaged roots might be present, like discolored or infected roots. 

Take a knife and remove the damaged roots.

The plant must have enough roots left to stay in the container and absorb enough water and nutrients.

Don’t disturb the rootball.

Step 6

Now, it is time for pot selection.

Choose a 1-2 inches big container than the current one.

It will keep the plant healthy for more than 2-3 years.

The space Haworthias will get from this big pot will be enough for them to grow roots.

Don’t jump to a large planter.

It will require more soil which will take a long time to dry out, thus resulting in overwatering.

Step 7

Now, prepare the ideal soil mixes I suggested. 

For more information, go through the soil article for Haworthia.

Step 8 

After making the ideal soil mix:

  1. Take the new planter and fill half of it with the soil.
  2. Place the plant in the middle and make the roots sit correctly.
  3. Cover the surrounding of the roots with the remaining soil mix.

Step 9

Water the plant slightly to keep the soil moist. Don’t overwater it.

Due to recent repotting, the plant will react very quickly to stress, especially faulty watering, sunlight, or fertilizer.

Step 10

Keep the plant under bright indirect sunlight.

Since they are recently re-potted, don’t let them have direct sunlight.

Note: Don’t forget to wear gloves before dealing with repotting. 

Besides, do the whole procedure outdoors to make your house messy and dirty. 

How to care for Haworthia after repotting?

Haworthia will receive a transplant shock when you repot it.

But the plant will recover faster if you repot in their growing season.

It will only be possible if you don’t stress them further with improper maintenance.

Here, I have compiled a list of care tips that you must follow after repotting Haworthia:

Factor Care Tips
Light Let Haworthia have bright indirect sunlight, especially after recent repotting. Exposing them to direct sunlight can burn them. If they are outdoors, put on shading nets. Choose an east-facing window or put on sheer curtains to filter the light indoors.
Water Water them enough just to keep them moist. Stop when you see water coming out of the drainage holes. Watering every 2-3/4 weeks will be good. Let the soil dry before watering.
Pot To improve drainage more, you can use terra cotta pots. It can wick away moisture quickly.
Soil Use well-drained soil for Haworthia. The soil must also be able to hold moisture for some days. It will give the plant time to store moisture in the leaves and keep them hydrated for 2-3 weeks.
Temperature An ideal temperature is within 60-75°F. Don’t let Haworthia have any extreme temperatures, especially after re-potting. Stressing them with extreme temperatures will shock them more. To take special care about this, measure the temperature around the plant.
Humidity Haworthia doesn’t require much humidity. So, make sure that the temperature in your area is quite cool. In case of high humidity, you can take the plant inside. Keep them out of the reach of heatwaves.
Fertilization Don’t fertilize immediately after repotting. Since Haworthia got repotted with new soil, they will get their nutrients from the soil. You can start fertilizing after 5-6 weeks.
Airflow Keep some space between each Haworthia. It will increase the airflow in between. This will reduce humidity and the chances of fungal or bacterial infections.

Reference: The Haworthia SocietyBotanical StudiesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonSciencedirectResearchgateHaworthia Study.

Richa

Hello everyone, My name is Richa and I am here to make you a better gardener by creating an in-depth and helpful resource for all the fellow gardeners out there. If I could help even a few people understand their plants better then I call it a success for my efforts.

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