What are Lithops?
Lithops come from the word “lithos” (rock), and “opsis” (similar to). These succulents are often called “Living Stones” or “Flowering Stones” because of their size, shape, and color that resembles small stones. They have a low stature and rocky texture that helps them blend in among the rocks in their natural surroundings. Grazing animals often overlook them, and even experts in the field experience a hard time locating them for study because of their remarkable camouflage.
When it comes to conserving and storing water, Lithops are probably the best of its kind. These plants are native to South Africa. They grow in dry regions that receive little to no amount of rainfall throughout the year. During extreme drought, one species of Lithops depend on mist and fog for moisture. This probably explains why this succulent looks strange.
The body of Lithops is comprised of two leaves that are fused but is divided by a slit. The plant does not have an actual stem. The taproots connect directly to the base of the leaves. The structure of the Lithops reveals the harsh conditions in which it lives.
The shortage of water demands that young plants can only have two leaves and roots because having more will only require them to need more water for survival. Adult Lithops can have more leaves connected to the same root. Lithops has thick leaves that can store enough water for them to survive until the next rain comes.
These succulents are not toxic to people and animals, so just in case you find yourself in a desert with a water emergency, you can consider eating Lithops for survival.
Lithops also has a remarkable way of getting sunlight. It might seem that because their body is mostly underground, only the top of their leaves get sun. But this part of the plant contains cells that act as the opening where sunlight can penetrate deep into the plant. Being underground helps them live safely from the sun and their predators.
Like most succulents, Lithops originates from arid regions. For that reason, they need fast-draining soil. These plants, however, require a more specific type of soil. Lithops are like rocks, and rocks like to be around other stones.
So, we recommend that you plant your Lithops in soil that contain very few organic matters. Mix one-half soil with one-half perlite, but you can reduce the amount of soil for better results. Lithops thrives well without soil, but they rely heavily on other minerals for nutrients.
Knowing how to water Lithops is a crucial thing to learn. Lithops don’t follow the same care guide as with other succulents. Their unique seasonal cycle dictates when and how they should be watered.
Lithops are dormant during summer, and watering them during this season can kill them. They are accustomed to bone-dry conditions during this season. They will become mushy and will eventually rot if you water them. If they turn wrinkled, give them a small amount of water, and they will look healthy again in a week.
As autumn starts, Lithops also resume their growth. The first signs of bloom start to emerge. When the bud becomes a flower, new leaves begin to grow. Give it a good drench at the beginning of this season, and water again when the soil completely dries out.
Remember not to water your Lithops during winter. During this season, the new leaves get their water from the old ones. If you water them, the old leaves will consume it, which will confuse the plant’s growth. This will cause both old and new laves to die. Refrain from touching your Lithops during this season. They are not accustomed to cold climates, so take them indoors when the temperature drops below 55°F.
Come spring, the old leaves have withered, so you can remove them and resume watering. Water lightly at first and gradually increase to full drench when necessary to encourage new growth.
Getting enough sun keeps succulents vibrant. Lithops enjoys plenty of sunlight, so place them under direct sunlight. However, be careful with exposing them to direct sunlight if they’ve just come from the store as this can result in sunburn. Lithops needs five hours of direct sunlight every day. For the remainder of the day, they should be under indirect sunlight.
Lithops only have two leaves, so propagating them through their leaves is not advisable. The most common way to reproduce them is through their seeds. During autumn, the flowers of Lithops open up. They look like daisies and come in white, yellow, or orange. Use a Q tip to cross-pollinate them. When the flowers die, they will leave behind pods that contain seeds. Save the seeds and start growing your living stones!
Do you grow Lithops? Share your experience with us in the comment box below!