Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

June 27, 2014

Using Haworthia as a ground cover

Ground covers simply don't work in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Believe me, I've tried everything I could think of, ice plants, hearts and flowers, you name it. If they grow at all, they just look weedy, and they have a tendency to just up and die when it gets hot, or cold, which it does here.

My latest experiment (I'm experimenting, mostly) is Haworthia. I had never even heard of this type of plant until I got some cuttings from a fellow Arizona Palm and Cycad Association member last year. He has some rental properties, on which he maintains some pretty cool landscaping, and they include Haworthia.

Haworthia looks a lot like aloe, but it's much tougher. All of the plants that you see here have grown from cuttings - that is, just pulled apart, even without roots, and planted. You can see the more recent plantings towards the back, they look kind'a sad and lonely. But once the plant takes root, it looks like it does well here, and starts to set offshoots. I'm hoping that by this time next year this area will be filled with Haworthia. Most of these plants have been in the ground since last fall and now is the beginning of summer. This is morning sun, by the way, but it's still very hot, especially there at *wiener dog* level, close to the ground, so everything else I've planted there has gotten cooked, even though this area goes into shade in the afternoon.

Another thing that I learned about Haworthia is that it turns a sickly purple when it's stressed. So, while these plants were a beautiful green when I got them, as soon as I planted them, and they went into stress, they turned that ugly purple color. At first I thought that this was a particular coloration and I pulled them out, but later I could see new green shoots appearing on some of them, so now I just wait patiently and then trim off anything that gets stressed. Looks like the heat is stressing some of the shoots which are turning yellow. I'll keep an eye on those too, maybe trim them off later today.

So that's what I know about Haworthia. Not much, but I'm getting there! Wish me luck!
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