Lithops is one of my favorite type (specifically, genus) of plant. I find them charming and fascinating. For this reason, I own several adult specimens and am growing several species of Lithops from seeds: [Lithops from seed]() and [Lithops from seed (II)](). Below is some information on these interesting plants including their natural history and care.
(Please note that this post is in progress.)
Background information on Lithops
These seeds are all from different species of Lithops. These “living stones” are small, simple plants native only to South Africa. Further, each species is often restricted to just a small region of the country, some lying closer to the coast, others following rivers, and the rest scattered across the rocky and unforgiving deserts.
While many hobbyist find these plants uninteresting – not an unfair opinon of this two-leaved, ground-dwelling, hydrophobic mesemb – I find them charming. First, the different species have various patterns, textures, and colors. Also, they live by a strict yearly schedule by which they flower, seed, and renew their leaves. All of this from a seemingly simple-looking plant keeps me fascinated.
For a full-grown plant (at least 1-2 years old), the care is fairly simple. First, they must be in very well draining soil – some even use 100% perlite or pumice. I use Bonsai Jack Succulent and Cactus Soil Gritty Mix #111 for my full-grown specimens.
These plants need incredibly little water and are easy to kill by root-rot onset from overwatering. In the summer, the plant is dormant and should not be watered. In the fall, the Lithops resume growth, often beginning with sending up a flower bud from between their two leaves. This is when the plants should be watered, thoroughly. In the winter, the plants must replace their leaves. To this end, the new leaves emerge between the old pair, consuming them for energy. To encourage this consumption, the plant should not be watered until the old leaves resemble shrivled pieces of paper. In the spring, the plant can be watered when it is showing signs of shriveling on the sides. Start, with small waterings and then progress to full waterings as the season continues. Overall, when in doubt, wait another week before watering.