Lithops Care: How to Grow and Care for Living Stone Plants
Lithops, also commonly described as living stones, are among the easiest plants you can grow and care for in your home. They are a genus of succulents native to southern Africa or South Africa. In the arid regions where they are found, these plants can thrive where there is an average of four inches of rain annually. They are tough desert plants. The type of lithops care, therefore, requires mimicking the conditions these succulents are used to in their natural habitat – lots of light and very little water.
As an owner of the plant, you should be well-informed of proper lithops care to ensure your succulents can grow to be become mature plants and provide you pleasure for many years.
Growing and Caring for Lithops
Due to their unique watering needs, lithops do not pair well with other plants. They should be planted alone or with others of their kind.
Seeds and Soil
A common way of rearing new lithops is through seed. You can buy some seeds and sow and grow them similar to other succulents. A deep pot is necessary as the lithops roots are large compared to the two-leaved plant – up to six inches in length. They need a fast-draining soil, usually consisting of a growing medium with very little organic matter such as one-half or less succulent soil and the rest perlite, coarse sand, gravel, or pumice. Sprinkle the seeds on the growing medium and cover them with a layer of sand. Keep the medium moist and let the seeds to germinate.
The easiest option of owning lithops is to order mature plants online. It is best to purchase new or repot lithops during the growing season, which are in spring or autumn.
Replanting lithops is best done right before you water them. Watering helps promote new root growth and to stabilize them in a new pot.
As a typical succulent, lithops love lots of sunlight. Proper lighting is also important in maintaining the vibrant coloring of the plant.
If you are bringing a new plant from a shop, it is advisable not to expose it to bright light too quickly. It risks getting sunburn, a real issue with succulents. Work it up about five hours a day of direct light, then in indirect light the remainder of the day.
Lithops Care During the Seasons
Lithops care involves giving the proper attention the plant needs with every change in season. They have a very distinct seasonal cycle that determines watering schedules.
In the summer and winter, lithops should not be watered even if you need to replant them during those periods. They are dormant during the summer and watering could cause them to become mushy, rot, or kill them.
Lithops resume growth in the early autumn often signaled by a bud that comes out between the leaves. Full watering can jumpstart growth but do it only after checking the soil is not damp from your last watering.
During winter, the new pair of leaves that have developed are drawing water from the old ones and the plant should be entirely untouched during this season. Also, see to it that the plant doesn’t get exposed to below 55oF.
In spring, when the old leaves have shriveled up, you may finally remove them. Resume watering starting lightly to encourage the new bud to begin growth. You can then gradually increase it to full watering, as you see necessary.
There are lithops species that over many years will grow more than one head, with the pairs of leaves bunching up around a shared root system. If you have such a lithops, you can separate the roots and split up the buds to have more plants.
By following proper lithops care, your experience growing and caring for your tiny succulents can be most rewarding and fulfilling.