Thursday, April 18, 2013

Random plant event: Haworthia NOID

I've had this particular variety of Haworthia since August 2004. It's never done anything mind-blowing, and it hasn't even looked particularly good for the last several years, but it's survived all kinds of really non-ideal locations for nearly a decade. As you probably know by now, I will happily sing the praises of any plant that happens to be durable, whether or not it has any other redeeming features, so this is a wonderful, wonderful plant, as far as I'm concerned.

Then this winter, during one of the reorganizations, I had the thought that maybe these Haworthias (there are three of them, all clones of the original) would be happier and would do better if I gave them a brighter spot. So I moved them from a spot on a high shelf, near the ceiling in the plant room, to one of the artificially-illuminated shelves in the basement. At which point they went from looking more or less like this . . .

(which is not what Haworthias are supposed to look like: a better-grown plant would have shorter, more closely-packed leaves), to this:

Which is even less what a Haworthia is supposed to look like.

I'm not particularly worried that this means the plants are all dying. It seems fairly clear to me that this is instead some kind of restructuring in response to the increased light. I am nonetheless kind of . . . I guess the word would be uneasy. It's bad enough to have had a plant for 8.5 years that has spent most of that time looking poorly grown (because it was) but more or less symmetrical; it's worse to have a plant that looks like a freakish adolescent monster, even if it's on its way to being well-grown.


Peter said...

How strange.

Unknown said...

I'd love an update on this plant.

I think I know what was happening, though. The increase in light has allowed the plant to start a growth spurt, and the plant is withdrawing moisture and nutrients from the old leaves to aid the production of new growth.

Clumping Haworthia species in the wild will do this - eventually the old leaves become paper thin and turn into mulch underneath the clump which the plant then grows new roots into and recycles everything it can make use of.

The bronze colouration is protective - the plant is trying to prevent leaf burn, but it is not damaging. I actually like it as I think it more interesting than the plain green. I will watch to see if you can post an update, as I'd like to try to help you identify your plant.

mr_subjunctive said...


This has been an exceptionally strange and busy week for me already, so it might take me a while to get to it, but sure, I'll post some new pictures in the next few weeks.

If you want to know right now: the new growth has come in as like 5000 new rosettes, and the leaves are pretty tightly packed. One of the three plants died a couple months after this post, and had basically no roots when examined.

The other two plants are still alive. Their replacement growth is just green; the red/bronze was temporary, even though the light source has remained the same.