Haworthia come in a fantastic range of unusual shapes and colours from spiralling formation to geometric sculptural forms. They are mainly slow-growing plants, most of which enjoy warmer temperatures and don’t require intense light, making them well suited to life indoors. The majority of the Haworthia growing season is in the wintertime. They come in a range of unique colours with many popular hybrids coming out of Asia.
Haworthia are native to South Africa where they can be found growing camouflaged in arid and rocky outcrops, they have adapted to survive in extreme heat with little water required. They are closely related to Gasteria and Aloe and often referred to as rock plant or crystal plants.
They grow in rocky outcrops to disguise themselves from animals, so not to be eaten for their moisture content. Due to this, Haworthia have the most impressively tall flower spikes, this is so they can attract pollinators without exposing their location to thirsty animals. They also have tiny flowers on their very thin flower spikes which are pollinated by flying insects.
Haworthia grow in the sweltering temperatures and will not tolerate frosts or cold weather so are best grown indoors or overwinter in a greenhouse.
These plants can be impressive artistically sculptural in growth formation with the most fascinating features, of these being their translucency fleshy parts. Giving these plants the nickname window plants as you can literally look into the centres of the leaves and plants. Haworthia are a talking point in any collection, they are very photogenic for social media platforms with all of their exciting and unusual features.
One of the most enjoyable parts in growing Haworthia is the impressive range of colours you can achieve in your plants from different heat and light conditions. In low light, they can have a very lush appearance, whereas when grown in hot and intense light levels, they can take on a different array of colouration. There are even hybrids with golden metallic lines in the leaves that look electric.
There are many colourful variegated forms of these unusual plants, but due to the slow growth rates, they can command extremely high prices. The variegation can come in several colours from yellow to the highly collectable and rare pink and orange forms of many of these species.
Some Haworthia have a vast root system in comparison to the plant above. The roots can almost look like a hand made out of parsnips. With these large root systems, Haworthia are typically planted in ceramic pots as the root system can grow and reshape the pot when they run out of growing space.
In habitat, these plants grow very low in the ground with only the tips of the leaves visible, this isn’t necessary when potted as you can admire more of the plant when planted up higher.
We use a grittier soil mix for all of our Haworthia, of 50 percent soil and 50 percent perlite and grit.
They will benefit from an extra thick layer of top-dress starting at the base of the plant.
You can feed them for faster growth rates, but it will have an influence on the colour with a lusher appearance.
Haworthia require very little water but make sure the soil is dry before its next watering, but water as you would with most succulents, drench the plant but avoid getting the crown of the plant wet.
If your plants look dehydrated, you can water more often or plant your Haworthia deeper into fresh substrate.
Happy plants will look full and plump with a shiny appearance.
Haworthia will enjoy feeding during their growing season.
Haworthia growers often trim the root system to encourage the plant to sprout more roots but be sure to let them heal before watering them.
Aloe Polyphylla also commonly known as the Spiral Aloe. The Aloe Polyphylla is a Surreal Succulents favourite, it has fantastic growth patterns and can withstand temperature well below freezing making a perfect outdoor year round UK succulent.
The Aloe polyphylla is a Surreal Succulents favourite, it has fantastic growth patterns and can withstand temperatures well below freezing. Making it a perfect outdoor year round UK succulent.
The Aloe polyphylla is native to the Maluti mountains of Lesotho which is an area rich in minerals and high levels of winter snowfall, it is also the national plant of Lesotho.
The Aloe polyphylla breaks all the usual rules for keeping succulents. They are an incredibly thirsty and hungry plant that benefits from extra feeding and watering during the growing season. They respond by appreciating air to the root system and not drowning in water. This will cause their roots to rot, slowing down growth rates. To achieve a growing medium that will encourage root development, we use standard multipurpose compost at 55% then we add 35% of perlite and a further 10% grit to the mix. We also add a 6-month slow release fertiliser.
As the Aloe grows, the bottom leaves of the Aloe polyphylla naturally dry out and die back. This process encourages new roots to develop, old leaves can be removed carefully by hand. When planting this succulent, it will benefit from being planted on a hump or mound. Angling the Aloe will encourage the water to run away from the leaves and to the root system.
To appreciate its beautiful growth form, angle the Aloe in the garden or pot and admire the beautiful spiralling crown.
One of the most unusual features of this Aloe is the fact that it can survive and thrive in temperatures well below freezing.
This succulent has impressive growth rates when happy.
The Aloe polyphylla is a hungry, thirsty plant and best kept outdoors.
The perfect UK outdoor succulent, hardy to -15°C.
Plant in full sun on a mound and at an angle.
Use a free draining soil mix and add a feed.
For more information view our product page. The Aloe polyphylla is incredibly popular so we can’t guarantee it will always be in stock. Sign-up to our newsletter to be kept up to date when products come back into stock.
One of the most beautiful Aeonium species around, always drawing the attention at shows with it’s fascinating Fibonacci spiral and its compact and almost flat growing form.
The Aeonium tabuliforme is one of the more tender Aeoniums, it grows incredibly well outside but needs protection from frosts or ideally temperatures below 4°c. When planting this Aeonium it is best to slightly angle it so that water can freely run off from the crown (centre of the plant), it can even be planted vertically in walls and rockeries. In nature this plant can be found growing on the side of cliff faces so is well suited for vertical living.
This succulent is a great feature plant and will appreciate some shade but can tolerate full sun when planted at an angle. It also makes a great indoor house plant.
Plant in a good free draining soil mix, we feed our Aeonium tabuliformes in the spring so they can grow and shut down for the winter. Feeding less, leading into the winter months produces a tougher plant that has a higher chance of surviving the winter cold spells.
Use a good free draining soil mix.
Only feed in the spring.
Angle the plant so water can freely drain off from the centre of the plant.
The tabuliforme will tolerate shade making it a great house plant.
In the hardiness zone category we have decided to use a traffic light system to help you choose and understand the requirements for your succulents. This will help you understand where to place your succulents in a suitable location and what time of year to protect them or bring them in for the winter.
Green zone -2°C / 28°F and below
These type of succulents will tolerate below freezing temperatures, they should happily live outdoors here in the UK all year round but will not like being continually soaking wet during winter so ensure good drainage at all times.
Amber zone -2°C / 28°F
These type of succulents will live outdoors all summer but you need to watch them when temperatures approach freezing. These succulents will not like being kept soaking wet during winter or colder months so ensure good drainage at all times. When temperatures approach freezing you would want to protect them with horticultural fleeces or bring them in for these cold spells.
Red zone +4°C / 39°F
These type of succulents will live outdoors all summer but you will need to treat these succulents as tender. When temperatures drop for the colder winter months you would want to ensure they stay above 4 degrees for them to survive.
When selecting the right pot and soil mix for your succulents its very important to consider where the succulents will be grown.
Choose a pot with a drainage hole if you can’t control the watering (outdoors).
Use a small layer of gravel or grit in the bottom of the pot so your succulents won’t be sitting in water.
We recommend using a standard general multipurpose compost mix or a John Innes number 2 (sandy soil mix) and adding 30% to 40% by volume of drainage media in the form of sand, grit or our favourite perlite. This will give you a free draining soil mix which is very important for the health of your succulents. Our Succulent Compost Mix is perfectly designed for our succulents.
60% to 70%
6 to 7 parts
Grit, perlite, sand or a blend of all three
30% to 40%
3 to 4 parts
Without proper drainage, your succulents might suffer from root rot and struggle, especially in the winter months. Always make sure your drainage holes don’t become blocked.
Having proper drainage gives you the desert like conditions that succulents need to thrive. Most succulents will love bright light and airy conditions, but some will love shady conditions. Knowing your succulent requirements is crucial when selecting placement and compatibility.
Unlike other plants and due to their waxy leathery leaves, succulents can tolerate very windy conditions and still be very happy.
There are even many succulents that can survive in low temperatures below freezing if free draining conditions are met. This can normally be found on vertical free draining walls, rockery beds, or a windy dry part of the garden.
Over watering is the most common cause of succulent problems. Dependant on where you are going to keep your succulents depends on how often you need to water them.
If keeping your succulents outside, you can probably get away with never watering your plants here in the UK. The rain every few weeks in the summer should be sufficient to give your plants enough water. Succulents store a high percentage of their water in their leaves and stems so they don’t need to be in continuous wet soil to draw up moisture like other plants. In fact, you will find that allowing the soil to dry out in between watering will make your colours more vibrant and stronger, giving you a hardier stronger succulent.
Keeping indoors or under glass
When keeping your succulents indoors it is best to allow for the soil to become dry in between waterings. When you do decide to water, it is best to soak them, this will replicate a torrential down pour (heavy rain shower). Little and often is not a good idea. You want your succulents to reach its roots out and develop a strong, robust root system trying to find nutrients and moisture. Achieving this will give you a much hardier and stronger plant.
Depending on the inside temperatures, you might water once a month or once a week. If your house has central heating turned on, then you may find your pots drying out faster. The best way to tell if it is dry is to pick up the pot and try to get a feel by the weight of the pot to figure out if it needs water.
This might sound completely different to keeping normal plants but we believe this is what makes succulents a joy to keep as they are very low maintenance plants. The more you leave them alone the more they will reward you with growth rates and stunning colours and form. We often get asked how do our succulents have such good colours and it is because we keep our succulents in this way.
For example, the Aeonium Glandulosum commonly known as disc houseleek, can be a lush green colour but when kept in dry conditions it can turn a deep vibrant red. This plant will also change colour before flowering.
If your colours are looking washed out and not as vibrant, it might be worth cutting back on your watering regime or simply not potting your plants on. Once your succulents start competing for water and nutrients you will often find the colours will become naturally enhanced simply because you are replicating their natural dry conditions. Often people think that you need more water and feed to enhance the colours but it’s often the opposite. In fact, less is more for these fascinating plants.
Selecting a plant for the right conditions you have at home is crucial. You might find that you get odd growing formations know as reaching. This can simply be because you’re not providing enough natural light for the plant you have chosen. Haworthias are great indoor plants suited to lower light conditions but at the same time can tolerate high light conditions. Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ and Aeonium tabuliforme (dinner plate) are a good choice for shady conditions, but will often fade or yellow out and even suffer from leaf burn if light conditions are too strong. Some Aeoniums would be green in colour if they were not receiving enough light to produce their dark leaf pigments. This is often found in the winter months when light levels are lower. You need to monitor to see if your succulents are growing with the right growth formation and vibrant colours for which they are known.
To ensure you’re getting good growth rates from your succulents we normally recommend that you refresh your soil every year. If planted in pots this can be easily achieved. If outside permanently planted in the ground, we recommend feeding with a general all-purpose plant food.
If you want to slow growth rates down, then simply leave your soil to run out of nutrients. This will stop your plants growing as fast, it can be several months before the plant will run out of nutrients and become detrimental to it’s health. It will happily survive, as these plants originate from low nutrient deserts like conditions with little rainfall, so they are well adapted to be without.
The main growing season for Aeoniums is in spring and especially in the autumn. This is because the temperature and light levels are favourable for this type of succulent. This type of succulent will often go dormant in the summer, this can be seen when the growing rosettes draw in to a closed tighter leaf formation and often outer leaves will dry up and drop off. When this happens this type of succulent will happily live off of its own nutrients and water stored in its leaves and stem. They are in a dormant state and will not accept water from its root system. This is normal, so don’t try to over water this type of succulent during the hot summer months. You will see the rosettes and leaves open up when it has come out of dormancy and now requires watering again.
Echeverias will grow from spring right through till autumn. During the winter months they will go dormant as the temperature drops beneath 10oc. Below these temperature they will appreciate being on the dry side. Remove any dead leaves and sparingly water these succulents until spring or temperatures warm up. Make sure the roots are dry before watering during this period.
For more impressive growth rates and healthier succulents for the winter, we re-pot with a higher nutrient based compost. You can even add a 3-month slow release fertilizer in mid spring to the standard mix above. This will encourage new off sets and plenty of flowers. The overall health will then be much stronger heading into the winter months.