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Care of lithops -- tips and tricks

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How to grow lithops -- tips and tricks
What are lithops?

Lithops spp. is a species of small succulent plants that mimic the appearance of stones. Their structure consists of two flat leaves attached to a large taproot. Older specimens may have multiple pairs of leaves growing in a cluster.

Lithops are native to southern Africa, where they generally receive less than an inch of rain per year. This makes them the ultimate in xeric plants, and a great plant choice for those who tend to neglect their plants. They also make a great conversation starter if you are looking for a centerpiece plant for your collection.

Identify your lithops

I will be frank and say that you will probably not be able to identify which species of lithops you have acquired. There are so many very slight variants between geographic regions that I suspect in many cases they aren't a separate species at all.

Label your plant tag as "Lithops spp." and be done with it.

Care of your lithops

Potting your lithops

Pot up your lithops in a mixture of rocks such as granite, lava rock, or small gravel. The base layer in the pot should be just a small amount of cactus potting mix at the bottom of the pot.

Plant lithops about half an inch above the potting mix surface, then add a topdressing to mimic its nature rocky environment.

Tip: The best time to repot a lithops is during the growing seasons (spring and autumn). Provide a small amount of water to a newly repotted lithops.

Warning: Lithops have very specific needs. They do not do well when potted with other succulents (or really, any other type of plant). They are unsuitable for a mixed-plant container display.

Watering your lithops

Lithops require very little water. In fact, they should only be watered once or twice a year. How do you know when they need water?

In short, if you are not sure if they need water, they probably don't. Ignore them. They thrive on neglect. They are the perfect low-maintenance plant!

Fertilizer for your lithops

Like most succulents, no fertilizer is required for an established plant. Fertilize young plants only when watering. A dilute fertilizer is best. I use a dilute solution of gentle fertilizer meant for epiphytes.

Lighting for your lithops

Lithops love a full sun environment. They want direct light, and lots of it! A south facing window is ideal if you are growing them indoors.

Propagation of your lithops

Lithops cannot be propagated by leaf cuttings like so many other succulents. They need both of their leaves. It is also rare for them to produce offsets which might allow for division.

The only way to propagate a lithops is by seed. However, lithops are not self-fertile. Use a small paintbrush to transfer pollen from one flower to another. Once the flowers die back, there should be a seed pod remaining. Open the pod to collect the seeds.

Happy growing!

My lithops collection

  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

 
  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

 
  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

 
  Lithops spp.

Lithops spp.

         

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