Haworthiopsis limifolia (Syn. Haworthia limifolia) (Fairy Washboard, File-Leaved Haworthia)

Haworthiopsis limifolia (Syn. Haworthia limifolia) after I brought it home on 5-9-19, #570-3.

Fairy Washbord, File Leafed Haworthia, Fairies Washboard

Haworthiopsis limifolia

ha-WORTH-ee-OP-sis  lim-ih-FOH-lee-ih


Haworthia limifolia

ha-WORTH-ee-a  lim-ih-FOH-lee-ih

Haworthiopsis limifolia (Marloth) G.D.Rowley is currently the correct and accepted scientific name for this species. It was named and described as such by Gordon Douglas Rowley in Alsterworthia International, Special Issue 10:4 in 2013. It was first named and described as Haworthia limifolia by Hermann Wilhelm Rudolf Marloth in Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa in 1910. Plants of the World Online by Kew lists five accepted infraspecific names of Haworthiopsis limifolia.

Accepted intraspecific names of Haworthiopsis limifolia (5) (Updated 12-9-20): Haworthiopsis limifolia var. arcana (Gideon F.Sm. & N.R.Crouch) G.D.Rowley, Haworthiopsis limifolia var. gigantea (M.B.Bayer) G.D.Rowley, Haworthiopsis limifolia var. glaucophylla (M.B.Bayer) G.D.Rowley, Haworthiopsis limifolia var. limifolia (autonym), Haworthiopsis limifolia var. ubomboensis (I.Verd.) G.D.Rowley

The genus, Haworthiopsis G.D.Rowley, was also named and described by Gordon Douglas Rowley in the same publication as the species. 

Plants of the World Online currently still lists 19 accepted species in the Haworthiopsis genus (as of 8-16-21 when this page was last updated). It is a member of the plant family Asphodelaceae with 40 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Although the accepted species name is currently Haworthiopsis limifolia, many websites still use the name Haworthia limifolia. Before, the two-lipped flowers were a distinguishing feature of the Haworthia genus. After extensive study, more detailed features of the flowers clearly identified three separate genera (Haworthia, Haworthiopsis, and Tulista). This certainly doesn’t mean the species won’t wind up back in the Haworthia genus at some point. You just never know… You can use whichever name you choose because both scientific names were validly published. It is just that Plants of the World Online by Kew (Royal Botanic Gardens) and whoever is in charge of plant names, says Haworthiopsis limifolia is now the accepted name. 


Haworthiopsis limifolia on 5-9-19, #570-4.

I brought my Haworthiopsis limifolia home from Wildwood Greenhouse on May 9, 2019. I bought the plant unlabeled so I posted a photo on the Facebook group Succulent Infatuation. It is so much easier than trying to figure out the name on my own. Within no time, a member replied with an ID. She said it was Haworthia limifolia aka. Fairy Washboard.

I did research and found the genus name had changed several years ago. One of the common names for Haworthiopsis limifolia is Fairies Washboard because of the leaves.

Haworthiopsis limifolia on 5-9-19, #570-5.

The plant is approximately 2 3/8” tall x 3” wide and is in a 3 7/8” tall x 4 1/2” diameter pot. The pot is fairly large for this size of plant, much larger than if bought from a garden center chain. I think Mr. Yoder buys a lot of his succulents in plugs then repots them. This plant may grow fairly quickly so this size of pot may be acceptable. We shall see. Wildwood Greenhouse had some of the best-looking plants of the four local greenhouses. Sadly, Mr. Yoder moved out of town.

Haworthiopsis limifolia on 6-16-19, #591-20.

WATER: Llifle says this plant prefers its soil to be kept moist (but not wet) during the hotter months of the summer. During the winter, the soil should dry out completely between watering. No water should ever be allowed to stand around the roots. If using a saucer, make sure to empty it.

LIGHT: This plant also prefers light shade to shade. In brighter light, the leaves take on a reddish tint and too much sun will make its tips burn.

Haworthiopsis limifolia on 7-15-19, #601-10.

ROT: Llifle says, “Rot is only a minor problem if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. Care must be given in watering, keeping them warm and wet while growing, and cooler and dry when dormant.”

SOIL: They need a very fast draining, porous potting mixture. I used 2 parts Miracle Grow Potting Soil with 1 part chicken grit and 1 part perlite for many years. I am now using about 50% Miracle Grow Potting Soil and 50% pumice. Many succulent enthusiasts recommend over perlite which floats to the top of the potting soil. Pumice takes the place of both perlite and grit and also adds nutrients to the mix. There are a lot of cactus and succulent soil recipes online and most people kind of experiment.

Haworthiopsis limifolia at 3 1/2″ tall x 3 1/8″ wide on 10-11-19, #639-42.

I had to move the potted plants inside on October 11 because an “F” was in the forecast. I always take photos of all the plants and measure the cactus and some of the succulents when I move them inside. The Haworthiopsis limifolia measured 3 1/2″ tall x 3 1/8″. It measured 2 3/8” tall x 3” when I brought it home from Wildwood Greenhouse in May. I have not repotted this plant since I brought it home because it was in a large enough pot already. I think it was probably bought as a plug then repotted at Wildwood… SOOOO, I should have checked to see if its roots are bound up inside a net. Hmmm… I didn’t think about it until I updated the Gasteria ‘Little Warty’ page…

Haworthiopsis limifolia with plug wrapping on 11-17-19, #652-1.

I repotted several of the cactus and succulents after they were moved inside for the winter. I think Fall is a good time to repot so the potting soil stays nice and loose for the winter. Even though the Haworthioposis limifolia didn’t need a larger pot, I decided I would check to see there was a plug wrapper around its roots. Sure enough, there it was…

Removing the plug wrapping from the Haworthiopsis limifolia on 11-17-19, #652-2.

A few of the larger roots had penetrated the wrapping but most of them were cramped up inside. When repotting your plants it is a good idea to check to see if they were grown in a plug and to remove the wrap if it is there.

Haworthiopsis limifolia on 11-17-19, #652-3.

Now the Haworthiopsis limifolia and its offsets are safe and sound…


Haworthiopsis limifolia (Fairy Washboard, ETC.) at 4″ tall x 5 1/4″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-44.

I had to move the plants inside because an “F” was in the forecast. As always, I took photos and measurements. The Haworthiopsis limifolia and its kids have done very well over the summer and measured 4″ tall x 5 1/4″ wide when I brought it inside.

Haworthiopsis limifolia (Fairy Washboard, ETC.) on 10-15-20, #747-45.

It is somewhat hard to get good photos of the raised transverse ridges on the leaves that give this species its common names. Very neat!


Haworthiopsis limifolia (Fairy Washboard) at 4 1/2″ tall x 5 3/4″ wide on 8-17-21, #826-28.

The Haworthiopsis limifolia has continued to do well and was 4 1/2″ tall x 5 3/4″ wide when the above photo was taken on 8-17-21. Normally, I take photos and measurements of the potted plants as I move them inside for the winter in October.

Family: Asphodelaceae
Origin: South Africa
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25-40° F)
Size: Up to 12” tall x 3-5” wide. 12” tall? Hmmm…
*Light: Light shade to shade.
**Soil: Very well-draining mix. Potting soil amended with pumice or grit and perlite.
**Water: Regular watering during the summer as with most plants and when the soil is dry during the winter. This is a little different than most succulents.

 *Haworthiopsis are native of the Eastern Cape Provinces in South Africa where they grow in grassy areas among small shrubs. In this situation, they receive filtered light. Many websites say they need bright light or full sun, but that is not likely the case. If you grow this plant in full sun, the leaves will likely burn. Of course, that depends on your location and how long they are in the sun… I don’t really have many succulents that “prefer” full sun over light to part shade here in midwest Missouri (USA), so they stay on tables on the front porch from May through mid-October on the west side of the house. They receive bright light but not full sun. There are periods of time in the afternoon where they get a little direct sun which also depends on where they are situated. They may get moved around a bit depending on their requirements. Most of the cactus are on the back porch in full sun. During the winter, most of the succulents are on a large shelf (multi-level) in front of a south-facing window in a cool bedroom. Some of them are on a shelf in front of a west-facing window in my bedroom where they receive kind of bright indirect sun. Cactus are not particular about light during the winter. For many years they were on a table in front of an east-facing sliding door in the dining room during the winter. Now they are on the new shelf in my bedroom.

I have not grown any Haworthiopsis (or Haworthia) for many years, and never one like Haworthiopsis attenuata. I have grown many Aloe for MANY years which probably have basically the same requirements. They are all SUMMER DORMANT which means they supposedly take a rest during the hotter months for 6-8 weeks from sometime in July through mid-August. Otherwise, their main growing period is from April through November, or thereabouts. From December through March, they are not exactly dormant, but their growth is slowed down so it is advisable not to hardly ever water during that period either. During their summer dormacy period, their growth above the soil kind of stops, but they are renewing their roots using material from the old roots. SO, during that time, you should avoid giving them too much water as well. Generally, when I water during the summer, I just go over the succulents without overly soaking them.

**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it… 

I think a lot of growing tips online are written by people who never grew succulents and cactus. They just copy from one website and paste it to theirs. You have to sort of mimic the soil where species grow in their native habitat. For that, you almost have to go see for yourself… Typically, they grow in fairly rocky soil

***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside. 

You can read my Cactus Talk & Update and Cactus & Succulent Tips to get my opinion about growing cactus and succulents.

When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.

I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you can. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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