Those succulents that you thought looked like rocks? They are called Lithops (or Living stones), a genus of succulents native to southern Africa. Older Lithops form clumps of colourful pebbles in their pot, which makes them ideal as an accent piece in your garden. As small and slow-growing plants, they are relatively easy to care for, especially once you get a hang of the routine. In this article, you will find some basic knowledge to take good care of your Lithops.
Light & Temperature
Lithops have adapted to tolerate harsh sunlight in their native environment. Thus, the best way to care for them would be to provide 4-5 hours of early sunlight, and partial shade in the afternoon. A south or east window with optimum light is an ideal place for your Lithops. Remember, insufficient sunlight can cause elongated leaves and lost patterns.
Although they are sun-lover, intense heat can damage their foliage and cause sunburn. Be sure to place them in less sunny spots or cover them up if you find their containers absorb too much heat in the summer afternoon.
As Lithops have the capacity to store water for months in their leaves, overwatering can lead to puffy plants, and even to their demise. Also, remember they thrive in desert condition with infrequent moisture and intense sunlight. Therefore, mimicing Lithop growing condition is important to keep them healthy.
Underwatering, however, can result in stunted plants. The trick is to water only when the soil is thoroughly dry (test by inserting a wooden skewer into the soil, and check if it's moist when removed).
When Lithops are growing new leaves, it's best to leave them and not water until the old pair of leaves are completely dried up and withered. This normally happens after their dormant season, which is around spring to early fall. Once the days get shorter and the temperature get cooler in fall, the plants will be active again.
Lithops Succulent Living Stone | Click here to purchase
It is best for Lithops to be planted in cactus mix or fast-draining potting soil. Sand, pebbles, or other gritty materials can also be added to help with soil drainage.
Lithops, like any other plants in general, should only be repotted if there are problems (soggy soil) or if the plants outgrow their container. If you want to repot the plants anyway, only repot when its growing season starts (usually around the month of May). Lithops's roots must be sufficiently developed (at least 2 years) before any re-potting is done.
GROWING NEW LEAVES
Lithops develop new pair of leaves every year. They only have one pair of leaves at a time so the old leaves will die for the new one to emerge. Normally, the process of growing new leaves happen after blooming period. After they flowers, Lithops will go into dormant for a while to prepare for the new growth. The plants will absorb the nutrients from old leaves and eventually the new pairs of leaves will make their way through the fissure of the old ones.
In some cases, your Lithops might grow their new leaves without flowering. Most of the time, it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason but it can partly because the Lithops are at early years of their growing cycle.
One way to tell if your Lithops is growing new leaves is checking its leaves. If they feel squishy and soft to the touch, it is likely that the outer leaves are at shredding stage. After a few days, you will soon find new leaves emerging. Otherwise, it could just be underwatering. During this period, do not water your Lithops untill the old leaves completely wither.
HOW TO PROPAGATE LITHOPS
Lithops’ propagation comes from seeds or division of existing plants. However, since they are slow-growing plants, divisions don’t usually develop for several years. Because of this, Lithops are often grown from seeds, which take months to establish, and years to fully grown.
This is the most popular way to grow Lithops. Simply prepare a pot of soil like mentioned above (fast-draining mixed with gritty materials). Lightly sprinkle Lithops seeds over the surface, and cover with a thin fine layer of sand. Keep this layer lightly moist until germination occurs, then gradually reduce watering.
Lithops Plant | Click here to purchase
This method should only be performed when there is a visible division on the plant itself. Carefully pick Lithops out of the pot, and gently dust off the soil around the roots. Examine the roots and the leaf pairs to decide on a cut, making sure that each leaf will have a sufficient amount of taproot attached.
Repot each of them in a pot that is deep enough for the taproot to grow without having to coil around the pot, with the same mix of soil.
Lithops have flowers! The flowers are daisy like in white, yellow, and orange shades. They often bloom around late fall and early winter. Similar to a shamrock, Lithops flowers open early on sunny days, and then close later in the day. If you have a cluster of Lithops, the blooming flower formation can cover the whole plant, hiding the small stone-like parts beneath them.
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For Types of Succulents Careguide. Read more information here.
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