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Why is my Haworthia turning brown?

6 min read

Why is my Haworthia turning brown?


Haworthia plants, often referred to as zebra plants, have gained increasing popularity among plant enthusiasts. These succulents, originating from South Africa, have become sought-after additions to indoor gardens for their captivating aesthetics and minimal care requirements. The striking appearance of Haworthia plants, often characterized by their distinctive zebra-like stripes, makes them stand out in any indoor garden. Their visually appealing foliage adds a touch of natural beauty to interior spaces, making them a sought-after choice for those looking to enhance their home's aesthetics with greenery.

However, despite their reputation for hardiness and adaptability, Haworthias can encounter a somewhat disturbing issue: the browning of their leaves. This occurrence, while not uncommon, can be a cause for concern, and understanding its underlying reasons and effective remedies is crucial to ensure the continued well-being and beauty of these remarkable succulents.

Incorrect Watering

Watering plays a pivotal role in the health of your Haworthia, and incorrect watering practices can lead to those dreaded browning leaves. One of the most common mistakes when caring for Haworthias is overwatering. These succulents store water in their leaves, making them highly susceptible to root rot when subjected to excess moisture. If you notice your haworthia's leaves turning brown and mushy, overwatering can be the reason. On the other hand, underwatering can leave this plant dry and dehydrated, resulting in crispy, brown leaves. 


  • Adjust your watering routine to allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
  • Water thoroughly, ensuring that the entire root system receives enough moisture. Allow all excess water to drain completely after each watering and do not let your plant sit in standing water. 
  • Be mindful of the change in seasons. Remember that Haworthias need more water during their active growing period in spring and summer, but require less moisture in fall and winter when they enter their dormancy period.

Extreme Heat and Sunlight

While Haworthias thrive with a healthy dose of sunlight, it's important to note that excessive heat and harsh direct sun exposure can trigger the browning of their leaves. When these succulents are exposed to intense, direct sunlight, their delicate leaves can suffer from sunburn, resulting in unattractive brown or reddish patches. Furthermore, when confronted with exceptionally high temperatures, Haworthias may find it challenging to adapt, leading to heat-induced stress, resulting in browning leaves.


  • Move your plant to another location with indirect, filtered sunlight and maintain a comfortable, stable temperature between 65°F to 75°F. Consider using sheer curtains or other shading methods if your plant is near a window with intense sunlight. If growing outdoors, consider providing shade during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Keep an eye on temperature conditions, especially during heatwaves, and relocate your Haworthia to a cooler spot if necessary.
  • Indoor, avoid placing your plant near heat vents, ovens, heaters, and other extreme heat sources.
haworthia zebra plant. succulent. cactus. succulent collection

Haworthias may find it challenging to adapt, leading to heat-induced stress, resulting in browning leaves.

Inadequate Drainage

Insufficient drainage, whether in the pot or within the soil itself, is a significant factor that can contribute to the browning of Haworthia leaves. If your Haworthia is planted in a pot without drainage holes, excess water cannot escape, leading to waterlogged soil. This can suffocate the roots and cause root rot and browning leaves. On the other hand, if the soil for your Haworthia is compact and not well-draining it can hinder water movement and aeration, also leading to root rot and leaf browning. It is important to note that, healthy roots are essential for the overall well-being of your haworthia. Inadequate drainage can lead to root suffocation and rot, indirectly causing leaf issues.


  • Repot your plant in well-draining soil formulated for succulents and cacti and use only porous pots with drainage holes.
  • Check for signs of root rot and remove affected roots if necessary before repotting.
  • Periodically refresh the potting soil and poke small holes in the soil to prevent compaction and improve aeration.
  • Water your Haworthia thoroughly but allow the soil to dry out between waterings to avoid waterlogged conditions.

Pest Infestation

This is not a common reason, but pests can still be another hidden cause behind the browning of Haworthia leaves. Though it is rare, Haworthias can be affected by common indoor plant pests like mealybugs and aphids. These tiny insects can infest your plant, feeding on its sap and weakening its overall health. As they feed, they can cause visible damage, including leaf browning and yellowing. Some pests, like spider mites, can spin protective webs on Haworthia leaves. These webs can trap dust and debris, hindering the plant's ability to photosynthesize effectively and causing browning. Pests may also directly damage the leaves while feeding, leaving behind brown spots or scars from their feeding activities. Prolonged pest infestations can stress your Haworthia and weaken its natural defenses. This can make it more susceptible to diseases and environmental stressors, which can lead to further leaf browning.


  • Regularly inspect your Haworthia for signs of pests, including small insects, webbing, or unusual damage on leaves.
  • If you detect pests, isolate the affected plant to prevent the infestation from spreading to other plants.
  • Treat your Haworthia with appropriate pest control measures, such as neem oil or insecticidal soap, following the product instructions carefully.
  • Consider preventive measures like regular cleaning of your plant's foliage to reduce the risk of pest infestation.

Low Humidity

Haworthia plants are versatile and can tolerate somewhat dry and arid climates. While they are resilient, excessively dry indoor conditions can still affect their health. Insufficient humidity in the air can lead to increased water loss from your Haworthia's leaves through transpiration. This can result in dehydrated, browned leaves.


  • Measure your room humidity level and aim to maintain a medium humidity level of around 40-60%
  • Consider using a humidifier to raise indoor humidity levels if your room is too dry (humidity level of below 40%)
  • Grouping your Haworthia with other houseplants can create a microenvironment to increase the humidity level around the plants.
  • Avoid placing your Haworthia near sources of dry heat, such as radiators or heaters.

Low Light Conditions

Low light condition is actually a common reason for your Harworthia leaves to turn brown. Haworthias, like all plants, rely on photosynthesis to produce energy and maintain their health. 

haworthia zebra plant. succulent. cactus. succulent collection

Haworthias may elongate and stretch towards the nearest light source.

In low-light conditions, their ability to carry out this vital process is compromised, which can lead to browning and yellowing of leaves. Moreover, to compensate for the lack of light, Haworthias may elongate and stretch towards the nearest light source. This stretching can weaken the plant, making it more susceptible to the browning of the leaves. It is also important to note that, prolonged exposure to low light can stress your Haworthia, making it more susceptible to diseases and environmental stressors, which can further contribute to leaf browning.


  • Move your Haworthia to another location where it can receive plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Rotate the plant periodically to ensure even light exposure on all sides and prevent stretching.
  • If natural light is insufficient, consider using grow lights specifically designed for indoor plants to supplement lighting.

Nutrient Deficiency

Haworthias don't require dense, nutrient-rich soil, but they still need essential nutrients like iron and manganese in the soil. When these nutrients are lacking, the plant's capacity to carry out efficient photosynthesis becomes disrupted. This disruption will affect energy production and leaf health maintenance, leading to the browning and yellowing of leaves. If you notice poor soil quality, it might be an indicator that your plant has outgrown its pot and depleted the nutrients in the soil and that it's about time for repotting. 


  • Follow a consistent fertilization schedule using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer formulated for succulents to provide essential nutrients.
  • Repot your plant with fresh soil and adjust your fertilization routine as needed.


Overfertilization can result in the buildup of excess nutrients in the soil, overwhelming the plant with more nutrients than it can effectively absorb. This nutrient overload can lead to fertilizer burn, where the concentrated salts in the fertilizer can dehydrate and damage the plant's roots and leaves, causing them to turn brown or develop necrotic spots. Excessive fertilization can also alter the soil's pH levels, making it less conducive for nutrient uptake and causing nutrient imbalances.


  • Stop fertilizing, and water your Harworthia thoroughly to help flush out excess salts from the soil.
  • Move to your plant to a bright, airy spot to increase photosynthesis and promote fertilizer burnt recovery.
  • Once your plant has recovered, hold off fertilizing for 1-2 months and when you fertilize, follow the instructions provided on the product label carefully. 
  • Do not fertilize when your plant is entering its dormancy period.
haworthia zebra plant. succulent. cactus. succulent collection

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