Lithops also known as ‘living stones’ are succulents with leaves that resemble small stones or rocks. Get facts and info on growing and caring for lithops.
Facts on Lithops (Growing Lithops Plants)
Living stones grow best in the same conditions as cactus, hot and dry, and they benefit from an attractive stone mulch. They do great in rock gardens or in containers. Lithops are great for dish gardens and cactus gardens. They grow 2”h x 4” w. and have a rounded form and a slow growth rate and come in many sizes, shapes, and colors.
These oddities of the plant world have evolved to have only one pair of leaves that are plump water storage organs. They resemble stones in their natural habitat, so are left alone by grazing animals. When these living stones are grown in high light, they produce a daisylike flower from between the two leaves.
In lower light, they stretch, lose their stonelike appearance, and can die. Give lithops direct sunlight, cool to hot temperatures, and low humidity (below 30 percent), and they will live a long time. Keep the plant at 50-55 degrees in winter. It will not tolerate stagnant air, so keep it well-ventillated, using a fan if necessary.
Lithops Care: Living stones need very little water. Even more than cactus, it will quickly rot if overwatered. Water only when the soil feels dry. At the end of October, cease watering and let the plant dry completely. For the next few months, it will produce a new set of leaves, consuming the moisture from the old pair which will shrivel. Avoid watering the plants during this time.
When new leaves appear in early spring, begin watering again. Soak the soil well, allow it to drain completely, then let it dry out a bit before watering again. The general rule is when in doubt about watering, don’t.
Feed the plants with foliage plant food once a year when the new leaves are fully formed. Living stones has a miniscule root system, so it doesn’t need repotting. Once the old leaves and flower stalk have shriveled, use tweezers to remove them. Occasionally wipe off the leaves.
Lithop Propagation: Living stones is traditionally propagated from seed. If your plant produces a flower, you can harvest your own seeds. Otherwise, order from a supplier.
To start seeds-sprinkle seeds onto moist potting mix and provide bottom heat. Germination can take from 2 days to 2 weeks. When the seedlings are about 6 months old, they are sturdy enough to handle and pot up.
Pests and Diseases: Mice can be troublesome for plants that spend the summer outdoors.
Related Species will vary with cultivars varying widely in their leaf markings.
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