Haworthia emelyae (V. Poelln.) var. comptoniana

Haworthia are probably one of the most troublesome groups of plants when it comes to naming and relationships, thankfully this can be overcome by simply growing the plants for their enjoyment and comptoniana certainly doesn’t disappoint in this aspect, being one of the most attractive members of the genus.

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Like virtually all Haworthia, comptoniana is endemic to South Africa, more specifically a few small patches of quartz covered ground in the Willowmore district, it is quite rare in habitat and difficult to find as it often grows under the quartz pebbles.

As with most Haworthia cultivation is fairly straight forward using a free draining compost such as equal mix of John Innes, grit and vermiculite, although many growers, including the author, are moving to almost pure mineral mixes.

There is some debate about resting periods for Haworthia. I find that, unless the temperatures drop too low, you can water them all year just less in winter, but some growers advocate an August rest period, the important thing like most succulents os to let them dry out before watering again.

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Many people grow Haworthia in too much shade and only see green plants, but many species and varieties like this one will put on an astonishing display of colour if grown in light shade. Comptoniana usually stays solitary in habitat but it is not unknown for it to form clumps in cultivation, although it is usually grown as a single rosette. They are comparitively quick growers and rosettes can reach up to 6″ (15cm) in diameter. The flowers are produced on a tall stem, but are fairly insignificant and unless you plan to produce seed it may well be worth cutting the stems off as soon as it is large enough so the plant puts the energy into growing. Don’t pull the rest of the stem off until it is thoroughly dry otherwise you may damage the young leaves in the heart of the plant.

Propagation can be by seed, offsets, leaf propagation or the removal or damaging of the growing point of the plant.

Bill Hildyard

Copyright © 2012 No part of this article or the accompanying pictures may be reproduced without permission

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