Lithops, colloquially referred to as ‘Living Stones’, are an intriguing plant species known for their unique appearance mimicking pebbles or stones.
Indigenous to the vast arid regions of South Africa, these succulent plants possess an unparalleled sense of adaptability, thriving under intense sunlight and meager water supply.
Today, Lithops are celebrated for their ornamental allure, used to enhance visual aesthetics, be it at homes, offices, or public gardens.
Understanding Lithops Varieties
From the monochrome Lithops lesliei to the vibrantly patterned Lithops dorotheae, the Lithops genus comprises an abundance of species, each with their unique color palette, pattern, and growth habits.
The Lithops succulent plant page on our website provides an extensive look at the different types of Lithops.
Contrasting Lithops with similar plants, one notable example is the Haworthia succulent plant, another native of South Africa. While they share some traits, such as low water needs, Haworthia typically grows in clusters with longer, spiky leaves, unlike the flat, smooth appearance of Lithops.
Before You Plant
Prior to immersing yourself in the rewarding journey of Lithops cultivation, it’s crucial to understand a few prerequisites. The natural habitat of Lithops is an arid desert, which necessitates a warm climate, minimal water, and maximum sun exposure. Identifying the right Lithops variety that resonates with your environment, personal tastes, and aesthetic goals is paramount.
How to Plant Lithops
Embarking on the exciting journey of planting Lithops involves a series of steps, such as choosing the appropriate time, selecting the planting site, determining the spacing, depth, and offering support.
When to Plant
Autumn, the start of Lithops’ growth cycle, is the best time to plant them.
Selecting a Planting Site
A south-facing window providing ample sunlight is an ideal indoor location. Outdoors, a sunny patch with good drainage ensures the best growth.
Spacing, Depth, and Support
Plant each Lithops at least 6 inches apart and just deep enough to cover the roots. Support can be provided in the form of sand or grit, ensuring proper drainage.
Lithops Plant Care
Successfully nurturing a Lithops plant requires understanding its specific needs, ranging from light conditions, soil type, watering frequency, temperature, humidity, to fertilization and pollination requirements.
Lithops require a lot of light, ideally 4-5 hours of direct sunlight every day.
A well-draining soil mix is paramount, often a blend of cactus mix and perlite or pumice.
Lithops need minimal water, often just once a month during their growing season. Check our guide on how often should I water Lithop seeds.
Temperature and Humidity
Lithops prefer a hot and dry environment, ideally with a temperature above 60°F. These succulents, known as lithops, thrive in arid climates. They thrive in the 50-80 F (10-27 C) temperature range that most homes maintain. Lithops thrive in temperatures ranging from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 27 degrees Celsius).
They can operate in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit) and as high as +90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). Temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) are dangerous for them.
A minimal approach to fertilization is best, with a diluted, low-nitrogen cactus fertilizer applied annually.
The Lithops flowering process is self-pollinating, requiring little to no human intervention.
Additional Lithops Growing Techniques
For container gardening enthusiasts, how to grow Lithops in pots offers comprehensive insights. Pruning is typically not required due to their slow growth and compact size. Propagating Lithops can be achieved by seed or division of the plant body, allowing you to expand your Lithops collection.
Advanced Lithops Care
Occasional repotting is recommended to replenish the soil nutrients. Lithops can be overwintered indoors in a sunny spot, mimicking their native winter dormancy period in the wild.
Occasionally, Lithops may fall prey to common pests like mealybugs, or suffer from overwatering, leading to root rot. Recognizing and addressing these issues early will ensure your Lithops continue to thrive.
Harvesting and Using Lithops
While Lithops are typically not harvested like traditional crops, they do provide aesthetic and therapeutic value. Their intriguing stone-like appearance makes them a striking element in your home or as a unique gift.
Temperature and Pollination
Understanding temperature is fundamental to successfully nurturing Lithops. Lithops, or ‘Living Stones’, prefer a temperature range that mimics their native desert habitat. Daytime temperatures of 65-80°F (18-27°C) are optimal, while they can withstand cooler nights around 50-55°F (10-13°C).
What Temperature do Living Stone Plants Like?
Lithops are a type of succulent found in arid climates. They thrive in the 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit (10-27 degrees Celsius) range that is typical in a home. Lithops thrive in a temperature range of around 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 27 degrees Celsius).
They have an extended temperature range, from a low of -30 to a high of +100 degrees Fahrenheit (-86 to 212 degrees C) and back up again. They shouldn’t go into temperatures lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
Living Stone plants, being desert natives, thrive best in warm temperatures. A general rule of thumb is to maintain a temperature range between 65-80°F (18-27°C) during the day and a slightly cooler range at night. They prefer full sun exposure during the growing season from spring through fall, but protection from the most intense midday sun is beneficial.
What is the Lowest Temperature for Lithops?
Lithops can tolerate cooler temperatures, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50°F (10°C) can harm them. Frost or freezing temperatures are particularly detrimental, potentially causing cell damage that can kill the plant.
Can Lithops Survive Indoors?
Absolutely. In fact, Lithops make for ideal indoor plants given their low maintenance nature and minimal water needs.
Indoor growers need to ensure that Lithops are placed near a window or light source that offers several hours of sunlight each day. Supplemental grow lights can also help during winter months when sunlight is scarce.
Can Lithops Survive Cold?
Lithops have a limited cold tolerance. While they can survive brief periods of cool weather, prolonged cold or freezing temperatures can cause significant damage. If you live in a region with cold winters, it’s best to grow Lithops indoors or move them inside during the colder months.
Best Conditions for Lithops
The best conditions for Lithops mimic their natural desert environment: warm temperatures, ample sunlight, well-draining soil, and minimal water. A south-facing window is an ideal location indoors. It’s also essential to allow the topsoil to dry out completely between waterings to prevent root rot.
What Temperature is Too Hot for Indoor Plants?
Most indoor plants, including Lithops, can suffer in temperatures above 90°F (32°C). Extreme heat can lead to dehydration and wilting. If you notice signs of heat stress, such as wilting or discolored leaves, consider moving your plants to a cooler location or increasing watering frequency slightly.
Should I Put My Lithops in the Fridge?
No, Lithops should not be put in the fridge. The cold and humid conditions inside a refrigerator do not align with the natural habitat of Lithops and can cause harm to these plants. Instead, consider moving them to a cooler part of your house if temperature management is a concern.
Do Lithops Need Deep Pots?
While Lithops do have a taproot system, they don’t require extremely deep pots. A pot that is 3-5 inches deep is generally sufficient. The key is ensuring the pot has excellent drainage to avoid waterlogged soil.
Life Span of Lithops
Lithops are perennial plants and can live for many years with proper care. On average, Lithops can easily live up to 10-20 years. Some specimens have been known to live for 40-50 years, emphasizing the robust nature of these fascinating succulents.
Succulent lithops can survive in a wide temperature range and are native to the desert. They thrive in the typical temperatures seen in homes, which range from around 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 27 degrees Celsius). Lithops thrive in temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 27 degrees Celsius).
They can operate in temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius) and as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius). They must not be warmed to less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
Nurturing Lithops can be a fascinating endeavor, immersing you in the rich tapestry of nature’s wonders.
Understanding their needs and providing them with a bit of care and attention, these ‘living stones’ will reward you with their vibrant colors and unique shapes, enlivening any space they occupy.
Remember, Lithops cultivation is more about appreciating their peculiar growth habits and less about fast-paced results, embodying the adage of slow and steady wins the race.