Lithops, commonly known as Living Stones owing to natural coloration, is a genus of succulent plants in the family Aizoaceae. Members of the genus are native to southern Africa. The name Lithops is derived from the Ancient Greek words lithos meaning “stone,” and ops meaning “face.”
The plants are stemless and have leaves that are almost indistinguishable from stones. The leaf-pair is fused below ground and splits from the top to form a small cavity. Flowers and new leaves sprout from this cavity in the appropriate season. The flowers are typically white or yellow centers and are usually sweetly-scented. The leaves have remarkable marbling that varies from species to species. This coloration blends into the environment, serving as natural camouflage. Herbivores get fooled by the color and end up considering the plant a part of the landscape.
Lithops Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Living Stone, Pebble Plants|
|Native Range||Southern Africa|
|Common Cultivars||Jackson’s Jade, Rubra, Mickbergensis, Aquamarine|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9A to 11|
|Mature Size||Height: 1 inch, Spread: 1-3 inches|
|Bloom Time||Autumn and Early Winter|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by cuttings|
|Sun||Full sun to Partial shade|
Lithops are very easy to care for. These living stones practically grow themselves. Beginners trying to grow this unique succulent will find very little difficulty here. In addition, their novel nature makes for a great ice breaker.
Light and Location
Living Stones do best in full sun to partial shade. They can be grown indoors, but they need a fair amount of light. If you have a bright windowsill, they will be happy there.
The watering needs of this succulent change prefer dry with the season. In late spring and early summer, water thoroughly and drain quickly. They only need to be watered when the soil feels dry to the touch.
When the plant goes dormant in mid-summer, suspend watering until autumn. Afterward, resume watering normally until winter. Then, stop entirely until late spring. This cycle repeats year after year; once you get a handle on it, the rest is not hard.
Keep in mind that if you’re unsure if you should be watering or not, don’t. It’s much easier to recover from underwatering than it is from overwatering. In fact, mistakes with overwatering are the most common cause of death among these plants.
These succulents do not like the cold. They prefer a moderate to high temperature with little fluctuation. Ideal indoor temperatures are between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit though you can go higher without much issue. If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters, grow these plants indoors and under protection.
Living Stones don’t have any specific humidity needs. They do well in average household humidity and can tolerate drier conditions.
These plants are light feeders and don’t need much fertilizer. You can fertilize them once a month during the growing season with a succulent fertilizer at half the recommended strength. Alternatively, you can use a slow-release fertilizer.
Sow the seeds in a coarse or sandy medium. Cover them with a very thin layer of the medium. Water lightly on top of the seeds and allow it to drain out quickly. Keep the pot in a warm and sunny spot and wait for germination. If you’ve sown multiple seeds in one pot, as is often the case, each seed will germinate in its own time. The fastest ones might take a couple of weeks, while the slower ones can take months. Be patient, and your seeds should sprout if the conditions are right.
Before taking a cutting, check that the plant is multiheaded. If it is, remove the entire plant from its potting medium and observe the roots. If a decent amount of roots are attached to a part, you can take a cutting from that part. Allow the cutting to callus over for a few days before planting. Keep it in a warm, sunny spot. Water lightly and keep the soil moist until the roots are established. Once they’ve taken hold, you can transplant the new plant in a new pot.
Note that propagation by seeds is by far the easier method.
Potting and Repotting Lithops
When potting your Living Stone Plant, pick a deep pot. These plants have extensive root systems, which isn’t immediately obvious from their diminutive size. Be sure to use light, coarse, and sandy soil. They do not like their roots to be constrained and will quickly rot if potted in heavy soil. Also, the soil needs to be fast-draining; the water shouldn’t be allowed to sit for any length of time.
Repotting is rarely needed for these plants. They can easily go 10, 20 years without requiring a new pot. However, if they do end up needing a new pot, you can repot them during the dormant season. Just remove them from their old pot, gently loosen the roots, and replant them in a new pot with fresh soil.
Lithops are considered non-toxic to humans and animals.
Common Pests and Diseases
These succulents are not often bothered by pests or diseases. Scale insects can be the occasional visitors, but they’re rare. So chances are you won’t have any problems with this one.
Overwatering is the biggest issue. If you think you might have been too generous with the water and ended up overwatering, take a look at the roots. If they’re mushy or black, it’s probably too late to save the plant. However, if the roots are just starting to rot, you might be able to save them. Remove the plant from the pot, gently clean off the roots, remove any that look deformed or mushy, and replant in a fresh potting medium.
Living Stone (Lithops) Best Way to Take Care Of (Video)
How Fast Do Lithops Grow?
These plants grow quite slowly. They might put on a new leaf every year or two in ideal conditions. But remember, even at their ultimate height, these plants remain tiny.
How To Grow Lithops From Seed?
Seeds are easy to germinate. Sow them in a sandy or coarse medium and keep the pot in a warm and sunny spot. Water lightly and maintain good drainage. You should see germination in a few weeks if all goes well.
What Are Living Stones?
Living stones are another name for lithops. They’re called living stones because they resemble small rocks or pebbles. This serves as a camouflage to protect them from predators.