Lithops receives the title for Most Unusual Succulent.
They are structurally unique from other succulents and can go for long periods without water, all while looking like rocks, hooves, or little brains.
Since these plants are so exotic, many gardeners have trouble tending to them. When you’ve mastered the fundamentals, though, lithops may be one of the easiest plants you’ve ever grown while also being one of the most bizarre.
What on Earth are Lithops?
Lithops are endemic to southern Africa, and may be found hiding out in grasslands and dry, sandy places amid rocks. Stone Faces (Greek:, lthos) is the common scientific term for these creatures. Lithops, if you like, appears to be lot easier to use. Put any name you choose on them; they won’t care.
Each plant has a vast root system with thick, connected leaf pairs that hardly have a stem.
The bulk of the leaf is hidden under the ground in nature to protect the plant from harmful sunlight and predators (their low profile lets them to mix in with other rocks, making it difficult for even scientists to detect them).
The tops of leaves, also known as leaf windows, are see-through so that sunlight can illuminate all of the leaf’s photosynthesis-required subterranean tissues.
Blooms appear between the two leaves. After 3-5 years, each plant produces one flower throughout its existence.
After the bloom wilted, a seed capsule forms in the middle of the leaves, releasing seeds when it becomes moist. New leaf pairs grow from the plant’s split and gradually take up moisture from older, wilted leaves.
Lithops take care of themselves in compared to the care of other home-grown plants. That’s where a lot of issues arise, unfortunately.
When it comes to taking care of our plants, we tend to go a little beyond because we want to make sure we’re doing a good job. Lithops may perish as a consequence of this.
If you take the time to learn about basic care for your Lithops, you should have them for many years.
Similar to the growth requirements of other plant types, succulents need a great deal of exposure to natural light. Lithops can only tolerate four to five hours of direct sunshine every day, and they need afternoon shade to avoid burning.
Some dedicated gardeners even bring Lithops inside to cultivate. Try it out, but make sure there’s enough light on hand throughout the day. In low light, the leaves of a lithops will etiolate, or extend toward the strongest light source. Low light levels may also decrease the color of the leaves, which is the plant’s finest characteristic.
When it comes to their daily routine, Lithops like to stay put. Take your time making the transition to a new site, and give the plant time to acclimate to the new circumstances. These plants, like many others you may be familiar with, are easily startled.
lithops is no stranger to drought. In regions where precipitation is scarce, people regularly go without water for extended periods of time.
To survive in these circumstances, Lithops plants store water in their leaves. In order to keep your Lithops happy, it is best to mimic the seasonal rainfall conditions they would experience in nature rather than giving in to the temptation to constantly water them. We recommend dry soil. They would much rather have it that way.
In the warmer or colder months, Lithops should not be watered. During this period, they enter a state of dormancy or semi-dormancy in which over watering may lead to root rot.
In the summer, the leaves should only be watered if they begin to wrinkle. You should water as little as possible throughout this process. Even a modest amount will be enough to restore the leaves to their normal, buoyant condition.
Starting with a very little quantity of water every two to three weeks throughout the growth seasons is the best way to get things going (spring and fall). This is unnecessary in high-humidity places because the plant can get adequate water from the air.
After all this discussion about not giving your Lithops water, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t let them get wet from rain or drops from the ceiling (such as those that come from gutters). If the weather threatens to spoil your hard work, you don’t want to take the chance of not watering it.
This winter, we won’t be using lithops. That being said, I find myself agreeing with them here. Extreme cold is a major threat to this plant in its native range, although it seldom occurs there.
When leaf cells are subjected to freezing temperatures, their cell membranes burst. Over time, exposed parts tend to deteriorate and vanish.
Lithops thrive in the temperature range of 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, while they may survive in temperatures either above or below this for short periods of time. Don’t expose the leaves to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time.
The natural environment of Lithops ranges from very sandy to quite rocky. They are used to working in “poor-quality” soils and have learned to adapt.
A combination of grit and gravel or gravel and sand that drains effectively is good. Create your own potting soil by mixing equal parts potting soil, sand, rock, and perlite (in that order).
Because Lithops aren’t accustomed to it and don’t like it, it’s not a good idea to fertilize them. Fertilization is more likely to cause damage than good.
Some gardeners use fertilizer throughout the growing season to encourage lush plant growth and blooms. For this reason, fertilizer application requires caution. Use a very diluted cactus fertilizer rather than regular fertilizer since the former would burn the foliage. If your plant hasn’t bloomed in a while, it may just be getting on in years. Some Lithops take five years to reach maturity.
Pests and Diseases
Lithops, unlike many other plants, seldom have issues with pests and diseases. Most plant diseases and pests will probably pass by Lithops, and insects will probably ignore them in favor of your more visually attractive plants. However, if you are one of the unfortunate few who does have a pest infestation, consider the following strategies:
- Spider mites
Some plants, including lithops, may have spider mites in the spaces between their leaves or along their edges. You may either use an insecticide on them or drown them in a mixture of dish soap and water (oily-based products are not advised for sun exposure).
In the same way, this technique may be used to either remove or suffocate.
Lithops may attract aphids because to its sweet, juicy leaves; these pests may be eradicated using an insecticide or by hand.
The easiest approach to multiply your Lithops is by growing them from seed or dividing established plants. Although leaf cutting is the recommended technique of propagation, few gardeners actually use it. Taking away one of each plant’s two leaves would be like amputating a limb.
The seeds of the Lithops plant may be purchased or gathered from your own plant.
During the blossoming season, you may manually pollinate plants by brushing pollen from one to another. As the flower begins to wilt, the plant should form a seed capsule in the centre that may be opened to reveal the seed to the rain. Spread the seeds out over a pot of sandy soil, then cover them lightly with sand and a second layer of sand. Keep the soil moist but not soggy until the seeds sprout.
Lithops may be propagated by dividing, however it is not easy to find or grow a cluster large enough for division.
Before you take the plant out of the container, give it a good shake to get rid of any accumulated dirt around the roots. Carefully cut between the leaves of each pair to expose the roots and separate the plants.
There is a glacial slowness to the growth of lithops. The effects of propagation may take months or even years to become apparent. This is a strategy that will provide positive results over time.
Having a landscape full with Lithops, with their minimal care needs, unique structure, and look that makes non-gardeners pause and wonder, “wait, are you growing rocks?” is hard to resist.
There are over forty different kinds, and they’re all great for gardeners and houseplant fans for different reasons.