Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lithops Lessons

Anyone who grows Lithops knows they are not "easy care" plants! They really do have their unique ways, an unusual growth cycle, and very particular needs. But as we all know, they are rewarding and quietly spectacular, in a petite, camouflaged sort of way....
Quietly spectacular. (Photo: MR 2013)
Here's my yearly compendium of Lithops lessons, in the hopes it helps other gardeners, or provokes interesting comments, or comforts other Lithops growers (yes, I lost a couple this year, too).

Overall, my Lithops have had a good year, and nearly all have successfully regenerated. I've got about 10 seedlings that reached maturity, and so overall, I've got about 20 more to take care of. I don't actually buy Lithops anymore, I've got enough!
(This is just one herd. A herd of Lithops? A gaggle? A pack?)
So here are my observations:
1. If you want to cultivate true patience, grow Lithops from seed.

2. Lithops never do anything fast. Talking to them, singing to them, exhorting them to accomplish more with their time, no effect, ever. And that's a good thing.

3. It seems to me that a Lithops' most vulnerable time is during active re-leafing, as the new leaf set or sets actually emerges from the old pair. They just seem more sensitive to everything at this time.

4. When a Lithops is unhappy for whatever reason, it goes into stasis. The annoying thing is, it won't tell you why it's gone into stasis. Grr!

5. When a Lithops is really miserable, it turns to mush. That's the only thing a Lithops will do quickly.

6. Watch out for heat! Lithops like full sun, particularly morning sun, but if they are in pots, not in the ground, the entire plant can heat up very quickly.  You won't know you cooked your Lithops for several days to a week. Then, mush and regret. During our hot months (March through November), my potted Lithops don't go outside at all.

7. Every Lithops is an individual. You can put them all on the same schedule, but that won't always work out. They are stubborn individualists!

8. Finally, the longer you live with Lithops, the more amazing you will find them. Keep trying, and you will succeed!
The Bloom of Success.


  1. Lol, so true, all the above - love that blonde do! :)

  2. All your comments regarding lithops are right on target Marla. A plant that occasionally can drive you nuts, but one you can't be long without. After a five year hiatus, I'm once again sowing lithops seed. Lithops, a lovely addiction. :)

    1. I'm glad you've got a new crop of Lithops coming. Which species, or do you know? The seed we get here is never labeled. You're so right about Lithops, they can drive you nuts, but they are now an indispensable part of my gardening life!

  3. I've sown seed of Lithops lesliei v. hornii and Lithops bromfieldii v. insularis, both collected seed from my plants. I've planted approximately 100 seeds and now have about 60 very small seedlings. I know this sounds like a lot, but not all will make it to adulthood and I have a nice outlet for excess plants at our local C&S Society meetings. (National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society)the Washington, D.C. club.

  4. Sounds wonderful, Bob! And your meetings with the C&S sound terrific, I may have to start a chapter down here, if I can figure out how to combine it with the Bromeliad group!