Monday, December 2, 2013

Basic Lithops Care for New Lithops Guardians

Many gardeners who read this blog know far more about the mysteries of the Lithops than I do. They can ignore this post. But for those of you who have recently bought, or been given, some Lithops, I thought I'd post on some of the basics that I've learned over the last couple of years. Feel free to add useful advice in the comments section!
Your first question on bringing your Lithops (which has probably been labeled "Living Stone", "Living Rock" or something like that) home may be, "What do I do with this thing?" That's a reasonable question. First off, if your Lithops is growing in ordinary potting soil, and that soil is damp or wet, it's time to repot. Most Lithops do well in soil that is not very nutritious, and has amazing drainage. I use a mix of cactus soil, perlite, and pumice, with some granite gravel. This way if I give them too much water, or they get too much rain, the water drains quickly and the Lithops don't burst or rot.

Apart from the initial re-potting, Lithops don't like being repotted or moved around much. In fact, such things can lead to Lithops Mush Syndrome. They grow slowly, so repotting is seldom necessary anyway.

Now on to watering. They don't like it much. I water weekly during their growing season. I never let them sit in water for even a few minutes. I do water very lightly during their dormant season, just a few drops from a water dropper every 10 days or so. But many gardeners don't water their Lithops at all during the dormant season. So it's up to you. I have very hard water here, so I add 6 drops of rice vinegar to every liter of water. I also add one drop of cactus fertilizer to each liter of water.

You might ask how to know the growing from the dormant season. This is a complicated subject, and if you check out the link below, there is a website with a wonderful explanation, and it's illustrated!

As far as sun goes, Lithops growing in the ground like, and can handle, a whole lot of full sun and heat. But in pots, too much sun, and especially, too much heat will cook them into mush very quickly. Also, if Lithops don't get full sun normally, then are put out on a sunny, hot day for even an hour, they'll often fade (Lithops sunburn) and turn to mush a few days later. I speak from early, bitter experience on this one.
My indoors Lithops get bright, filtered sunlight for about 6 hours a day, and occasional outdoor sunbaths on cooler days.
I hope that this very basic info will help newcomers to the Land of Lithops enjoy their amazing new plants. For more in-depth info, there are several sites on the Web. The Lithops Forum is a great place for Q&A!
Here is a terrific German website with in-depth explanations and pictures:

Happy Gardening, everyone!


  1. Thank you for providing sites for additional information! Do you have any favorite sites for Tillandsias? There just is not that much information available on the different types of Tillandsias. I love your blog, especially when you feature a different type of tillie and talk about it. I am up to 71 plants and just getting started with them. My interest is now really growing with the lithops but I do not have any yet! Too cold here in Ohio to order them right now but spring is coming.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words! There is truly very little out there on Tillandsia care. So this week I am writing, and will post, my basic guide for Tilly care. I have a Tilly of the Month post, but I may up that to 2 per month, because there is so much interest in these amazing plants. So stay tuned and thank you for the encouragement!

  3. As a new Lithops enthusiast I appreciate the primer very much! Thanks also for the link to more detailed sites! I'm adding your blog to my go-to sites for advice and encouragement!

  4. I'm so glad you find the site useful, and best wishes to you and your Lithops!