Lithops - Aizoaceae - How to care for, grow and flower Lithops plants



The Lithops they areliving stones or living stones as they are more often called, they are true masterpieces of nature's adaptation to the impervious living conditions of desert areas.

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: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The kind Lithops, belonging to the family of Aizoaceaeencompasses a very large group of fat plants perennials also known as living stonesas they resemble real desert stones. In fact, they originate from the desert areas of southern Africa.

The plant consists of only two leaves opposite, fused together to form a sort of inverted cone divided in the central part by a septum.

These plants they are a real masterpiece of adaptation to extreme life, devising a whole series of mechanisms for survival in desert areas:

  1. their resemblance to stones is a real one phenomenon of mimicry in fact, the fact of being confused with the stones prevents them from being eaten by animals (since they are sources of water);
  2. the plant consists of only two leaves fused together, to form a sort of inverted cone, which originate from a short underground stem; are roundish, very fleshy and grow to form a single plant that is divided into the central part and are real water reservoirs as in their areas of origin rainfall is so scarce (a few centimeters per year) that if not had they adopted this device, they certainly could not survive;
  3. the Lithops form a single flower which grows from the center of this incision of usually white or yellow color depending on the species which lasts about a week, as the scarce water and nutritional resources do not allow it to form more so as not to waste its resources;
  4. they are small plants (a few centimeters) and round in shape to minimize water losses and protect themselves from solar radiation and with a deep root system (in proportion to the size of the plant).

These features make the Lithops of plants particularly suitable for living in warm, brightly lit apartments and they don't require a lot of attention.

They are self-sterile plants which means that the male flowers and the female flowers of the same plant do not cross each other therefore plants of different varieties are needed in order to obtain fertile seeds.


There are about 35 species of Lithops among which we remember:


There Lithops alpina it is a plant characterized by green leaves tending to gray, variously streaked with dark green.

The flowers appear in early summer and are bright yellow.


Among the different species, the Lithops leslieiit is the best known and most widespread due to the leaves that remain flat at the top, with a greyish-pink color with red streaks.

The plant blooms in late summer producing deep yellow flowers with small red hues under the petals.


There Lithops aucampiae it is a large species reaching 4cm in height and width.

The leaves are purplish-brown in color with varying shades of brown and the flowers are golden yellow. It blooms from late summer to mid-autumn.


The leaves of the Lithops bella sthey are greyish-green in color with darker green streaks. It blooms in late summer and autumn producing white daisy-like flowers.


There Lithops optica is among the species the most recognizable as the leaves are deeply engraved and are dark gray-green.

The flowers are white and bloom in autumn. The variety L. optica rubra is well known (photo on the side).


The Lithops they are very easy plants to grow and do not require special careIn regions with a temperate or cold climate they cannot be grown outdoors as plants typically come from desert areas, therefore with high temperatures and low humidity.

In view of the fact that the species of Lithops there are many and the areas of life are very vast, it is not easy to give general indications on how to cultivate them but we can give guidelines that will then be adapted by you based on how you will see them grow and develop.

First of all it must be said that the Lithops they have no problems with maximum temperatures while they are plants more sensitive to the minimums which should not fall below 5 ° C.

They love the light, especially the direct sun because if they do not receive it for at least 4-5 hours a day, they tend to slip off, that is to say to stretch, losing their compact shape as they go "in search of the sun" and also lose the characteristic features . But be careful of the light filtered through the glasses that could burn them (lens effect) so it is preferable that they are exposed to the sun or in the morning or in the afternoon, especially during the summer period (avoiding the hottest hours), so it is good to find a position at home. that takes this fact into account. Also ensure good air exchange.

Let's try to follow the PLANT LIFE CYCLE based on how it is innature to understand how we should raise them.

The lithops, in most of the species, begin to grow and bloom only after the rainy period while during the drought period it enters vegetative rest.

In late spring and early summer, the Lithops it begins to go into vegetative rest (period in which the intense heat begins in their places of origin and the rains are scarce or absent) and to survive it uses the water stored in the tissues of the leaves. In this period it is necessary to significantly reduce watering.

During the summer the plant enters a real rest and therefore suspends all activities so it should not be watered. Only if we see that it wrinkles too much, let's give it a little, but very little, without the water going deep into the ground.

Towards August - September the plant comes back to life and we realize it as the gap between the two leaves becomes more evident, "the plant opens up". In this period, watering is resumed gradually. From the crack we will see a gem appear that will originate the flower. Beyond this we will see that two new leaves will begin to form, always from the crack that gradually become bigger and bigger.

Once the plant has faded, it is necessary to start reducing watering again until it is completely suspended towards the end of September and continue in this way throughout the winter even if it is a very active period for the plant as the two new leaves grow but do expenses of the water accumulated in the old leaves that we will see in fact gradually dry up and become similar to wrinkled and now empty pieces of paper (very evident in the photo above of the Lithops optica) and can be eliminated.It is important to let these leaves dry up as if they remained beautiful, they would prevent the development of the new leaves of the plant. During this period we make sure that the Lithops is placed in a place where temperatures do not drop below 5 ° C as the plant could be seriously damaged.

At the beginning of spring it is necessary to resume watering, gradually and waiting for the soil to dry between one irrigation and another.

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Video: How To Grow Lithops From Seed Part 1

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