Underwatered Haworthia – Signs and How To Revive

Underwatered Haworthia - Signs and How To Revive

Haworthia plants, with the botanical name Haworthia attenuata, are succulent houseplants with an attractive, stripy pattern on their leaves. They are also referred to as zebra plants, and are very easy to care for. They belong to the Asphodeloideae family, along with aloes and gasterias. These small succulents are native to South Africa and, while they are very low-maintenance, it is possible to underwater them if you neglect them for too long. 

Underwatered Haworthia – Signs and how to revive 

1. Shriveled, wrinkled leaves 

Underwatered Haworthias look shriveled, wrinkled and dry due to the lack of moisture in their leaves. 

2. Crisp, brown spots on the foliage 

Brown, crispy spots will develop on the plant’s foliage due to dehydration and a lack of nutrients, because nutrients are also transported through the plant via water. 

3. Closed-up leaves 

The leaves tend to close up when they are dehydrated, which is a common trait among rosette-forming succulents. 

4. Unhealthy root systems 

Underwatered Haworthias will have sickly-looking root systems that do not function well. The roots are dehydrated, which will affect their ability to provide water to the rest of the plant.

5. Rubbery leaves 

Underwatered succulents, including Haworthias, will have rubbery leaves that bend easily, while healthy, hydrated leaves should be firm and plump.

6. Aerial roots

Underwatered succulents may develop aerial roots that grow above the soil. This is an attempt to collect water from the air when the plant is not able to get its moisture from the soil. 

How to revive an underwatered Haworthia

  • Water your Haworthia as you would normally. Do not give it too much water, as the plant could end up overwatered, which is a more dangerous condition for succulents than underwatering. An overwatered Haworthia will be far more difficult to revive. 
  • Place the affected plant in the shade, or where there is no bright or intense sunlight. 
  • Be patient with your plant; it could take a few days or weeks for it to bounce back. A big part of a plant’s recovery will depend on its overall health. 

Continue to water your plant thoroughly, giving it a good soak each time so that the water seeps through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Make sure you allow the soil to dry out between waterings, to avoid overwatering your Haworthia instead. After a few good, deep soaks, the plant should make a full recovery and bounce back to health. 

How to water Haworthias and other succulents

  • Check the soil using the finger test. If the top two inches of soil are dry to the touch, it is time to water your plant. If the soil is still damp to the touch, wait a few days and then check it again. 
  • Water the plants from the bottom instead of from above, to ensure that the roots receive ample water. 
  • Water deeply but infrequently, and see to it that the excess water drains out of the bottom of the pot. 
  • After deep watering, allow at least a week before you water the plant again. 
  • Monitor your watering frequency and adjust as necessary, because every plant is different. The frequency also depends on the season, climate and weather where you are, as well as the soil conditions. 
  • Start by watering once every two weeks, and transition to once a week if that is what the plant prefers. If the soil is still drying out too quickly, water the plant twice a week.

Haworthia plant care

Haworthias are adaptable succulents that thrive in areas with bright, indirect light. The full sun could make their leaves turn purple or brown.  Place them in a partially shaded spot to keep the leaves healthy, but avoid deep shade since that will make them lanky and discolored. 

Water the plants approximately once a week, especially during warm weather. Water deeply, and only water again once the soil has dried out. These plants will easily develop root rot if they are overwatered. Keep water out of their crowns or rosettes, because this can cause crown rot during cold weather. 

Humidity is not that essential for succulents, but ensure that they have good ventilation.

Fertilize your plants occasionally, but only with a weak solution, because succulents are not big feeders. Prioritize those that produce a large number of offset around the base. 

Succulents are happy growing in average indoor warmth. They do not like cold temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Your Haworthia will not need to be repotted often. Only do so when the offsets have filled the pots.


Haworthias are popular houseplants because of their attractively patterned appearance. They are drought resistant and store water in their leaves, but are nevertheless prone to the effects of underwatering if neglected for too long. Common signs of underwatering include shriveled, wrinkled, rubbery leaves, unhealthy root systems, and the development of aerial roots. You can revive your underwatered plants by giving them a thorough soak with water and transferring them to an area with indirect sunlight to help them recover faster. 

Image: istockphoto.com / arraymax