The Truncate Living Stone (Lithops pseudotruncatella) is native to a number of regions in southern Africa, mostly Namibia, where it grows among rocks and sand. It is a small plant, rarely exceeding 10 cm in height. Lithops is one of the most interesting genera in the plant kingdom, and Lithops pseudotruncatella is one of the most prevalent Lithops in the wild. The name “Lithops” comes from the Greek words meaning stone and face, referring to its likeness to a rock.
The “leaves” or “faces” are thick and fleshy, arranged in pairs at the base of the plant. They are grey-green with brown or red markings, which help to camouflage the plant in its natural habitat. Unless the plant is blooming, it is almost impossible to tell it apart from the rocky areas where it likes to grow. It blends in perfectly with the widespread quartzite stones in the area.
Each specimen has two sides (sometimes more) with a cavity in the middle. Vivid patterns adorn each side in stark brown colors, sometimes purple as well. Flowers emerge from within the cavity in autumn. They are usually bright yellow, ruining the perfect camouflage when they appear.
Lithops pseudotruncatella Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Truncate Living Stone|
|Botanical Name||Lithops pseudotruncatella|
|Synonyms||Lithops alpina Dinter, Lithops elisabethiae, Lithops mundtii, Lithops pseudotruncatella var. alpina, Lithops pseudotruncatella var. riehmerae, Lithops pseudotruncatella subsp. volkii Mesembryanthemum pseudotruncatellum|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||10a to 11b|
|Mature Size||up to 10 cm|
|Bloom Time||Summer, Autumn|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by offsets|
|Sun||Full sun to part shade|
Lithops Pseudotruncatella Care
Unlike most succulents, Lithops are an exacting bunch requiring their care conditions to be met perfectly for them to thrive. Although they are adapted to survive in harsh conditions, that doesn’t translate over to indoor houseplants. So, if you feel you’re ready to take on a challenge and cultivate a group of high-maintenance houseplants, here’s how you do it.
Light and Location
As succulents, these plants love bright conditions. They will do best in a south- or west-facing window where they will receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. In hot climates, give the plant bright, indirect light in summer but full sun during winter.
You can grow these plants outdoors or indoors, but most gardeners prefer to bring them indoors and display them in a pot to highlight their unique nature. They tend to get overshadowed by larger, showier plants in the outdoors, aesthetically speaking.
Lithops are what’s known as “summer growers,” meaning they actively put out new growth during the warm season and go dormant in the winter. During their growing season, which lasts from spring until fall, they should be watered lightly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Watering once every two to three weeks should be sufficient.
When winter comes, and the plant goes dormant, stop watering entirely. You’ll see the leaves shriveling, but this is in line with what’s supposed to happen. Even if your instincts tell you water to help the leaves recover, don’t. Overwatering is the root of most of this plant’s issues.
If grown in a pot, water from the bottom to avoid splashing water on the leaves. Before watering, ensure that the pot is warm and not cold. Watering in the cold is a death sentence.
Note: When the plant flowers, stop watering until well after the blooms have died out. Since blooms usually appear just before spring, start watering around mid-April.
L. pseudotruncatella is a desert plant, so it thrives in warm, dry conditions. It does best if the air is on the drier side, with temperatures ranging from 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and 50-55 degrees at night.
When the plant is dormant during winter, you can let temperatures drop as low as 40 degrees but no lower. However, if the winters are particularly harsh, consider growing your plants indoors, where you can better control temperature and humidity levels.
The drier, the better when it comes to this plant. If you live in a particularly humid climate, consider growing your plants in a pot so you can better control the environment around them. Dry conditions and good ventilation are essential.
Lithops need a particular type of soil to do well. It must be extremely gritty, very well-draining, and low in organic matter. A cactus potting mix will work just fine, or you can make your own by mixing together one part perlite, one part pumice, and one part coarse sand.
You can also amend regular potting soil by adding extra perlite, pumice, or sand until it meets the necessary criteria.
Since these plants are adapted to surviving in nutrient-poor soils, they don’t require much fertilizer to do well. In fact, too much fertilizer will do more harm than good.
If you feel your plant needs a little boost, fertilize only during the growing season using a half-strength, succulent fertilizer. Overfertilizing can result in unsightly growth. Don’t fertilize at all if you’re not sure; the plant will grow just fine without it.
Propagating Lithops Pseudotruncatella
The easy way to propagate this plant is by seeds. To do so, simply sow the seeds in a cactus potting mix or regular potting soil that has been amended with extra perlite, pumice, or sand. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of grit to prevent burying them. Keep the humidity level high by covering the pot with a layer of plastic—bottom water to keep the soil moist. After a few days, remove the plastic and begin misting the pot. Keep this up for a couple of weeks and wait for the seeds to germinate.
Another propagation method is by using cuttings:
- Take a sharp knife and cut a clean, healthy section from the main plant.
- Allow the cutting to callus over for a few days, and then insert it into a cactus potting mix.
- Wait for the cutting to grow while providing it with optimal conditions.
Note: Cuttings rarely grow, and it’s hard to get them to develop into a new plant. Seeds are easy and grow fast as well, making them the go-to method for most gardeners.
Potting and Repotting
Since these plants are slow-growing, they don’t need to be repotted often. In fact, you’re probably fine repotting only once every five to seven years. When you do repot, use a cactus potting mix and a pot with plenty of drainage holes. Avoid using pots with unneeded space, as this can lead to root rot.
Truncate Living Stones grown in large pots also tend to experience a poor flowering season. With leggy flowers that droop as soon as they bloom. Lithops in smaller pots have much better flowers, so it’s recommended to plant them in as small a pot as possible. And since they’re slow growers anyway, this works out perfectly.
Lithops pseudotruncatella are not toxic to pets or humans.
This plant is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but there are a few that can cause problems. Mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites are the most common pests. If you notice any of these on your plant, remove them using rubbing alcohol or treat them with a gentle insecticidal soap.
Sciara Flies tend to be attracted to the seedlings. Unfortunately, you can’t do anything to save the seeds if they get their hands on them, so prevention is definitely key here. Planting the seeds in grit helps prevent these annoying critters, so that’s what we recommend.
How to Grow and Maintain a Healthy Truncate Living Stone (Video)
What Happens When Lithops Split?
This plant will naturally split over time as it grows. You can expect this to happen every few years or so. This is a sign of the plant shedding itself to make way for new growth.
Do Living Stones Multiply?
Yes, they will eventually multiply if left alone. However, it’s much faster and easier to propagate them using seeds. Multiplication usually occurs when the Lithops naturally splits itself.
How Do You Save A Rotting Lithops?
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to save a rotting Lithops. The best thing you can do is to remove it from the pot and dispose of it. Then, make sure you’re using a pot with good drainage and well-amended soil to prevent this from happening again.
How Fast Do Living Stones Grow?
Lithops pseudotruncatella are slow-growing plants. You can expect them to add only a few millimeters of growth each month. Seeds grow to their ultimate height in about a year.
Why Is My Lithops Squishy?
If your Lithops is squishy, it’s time for new growth to appear. This occurs when the plant sheds its old growth, and it’s perfectly normal. However, if the plant is mushy or rotting, this is a sign of root rot, and you’ll need to take action immediately.