Lithops, or flowering stones – growing tips

Lithops are succulents that grow in nature in the rocky deserts of South and South-West Africa.Today, different varieties of these plants are decorated with the most Modern interiors around the world.

  1. Opening history
  2. Botanical description
  3. Features of flowering
  4. Varieties <
  5. Purchase and adaptation
  6. Planting <
  7. Growing conditions
  8. Temperature
  9. Lighting
  10. Care
  11. Fertilizers and fertilizing
  12. Watering <
  13. Transplant
  14. Additional recommendations
  15. Methods of propagation
  16. Seeds
  17. Cuttings
  18. Division of an adult plant
  19. Diseases and pests
  20. Useful videos

Литопсы, или цветущие камни — советы по выращиванию

Lithops, or flowering stones – tips for growing

Discovery History

These strange plants are called “living stones “. In order not to get anyone to eat, lithops disguise themselves as pebbles.

This species was found in 1811 by the English botanist Burchell, who sat down to rest while traveling through the desert. Next to him, he found a bunch of pebbles. When trying to raise a pebble, he was surprised to notice his roots. Upon closer inspection, he saw plants that are completely similar in color and shape to inanimate minerals and are small in size.

Botanical description

Lithops are perennial succulents that look like flat pebbles split into two parts and store water in fleshy short leaves. They can not be confused with a cactus, but it’s difficult to call them plants from the outside.

They grow on quartz and calcareous soils and even on rocks. They are small in size, which is typical for desert inhabitants.

In nature, they have difficulty getting water in an arid climate, so their leaves are short for survival in the scorching sun, and the roots are long, which allows you to get moisture from the deep layers soil.

The aerial part is small – the length and width often do not exceed 2-5 cm. Closed leaves resemble a hoof due to the cross section.

Interesting fact! lithopses have different types of roots: some are for nutrition, and others are contractile, drawing the plant into the ground during a drought.

The stem is short, located inside and is invisible. Thick leaves can be of various colors (from light to blueberry, from plain to patterned), almost round in shape, due to which the evaporation of moisture is minimal.

Features of flowering

Surprisingly, but even in the desert you can see blooming “living stones.”

Flowering begins during the rains, lasts for two weeks and has its own cycles: the buds open completely from noon and close before sunset.

Flowers are up to 3 cm in diameter, they are larger than the leaves and resemble chamomiles. The color of the petals may be yellow or white, but after five days it changes under the influence of the sun. White flowers turn pinkish and yellow flowers become brick.

Lithops have annual growth cycles that depend on the amount of light and rainfall during the year.

  • In summer, they do not grow.
  • In autumn – growth and flowering begins, seeds are formed.
  • In winter, with a small amount of light, new leaves appear, and old wrinkled ones die off in the form of a kind of skin (the so-called molting occurs), in order to stock up in spring water in already new leaves.

Pay attention! The closest relative of the lithops is “living granite” or playospylos.


About 40 species of lithops were found in nature, but only 15 are available for cultivation at home.

The collections of flower growers consist of instances of various shades that are used to breed and create new species. It is by their color that ordinary plant lovers distinguish them.

Types of Lithops:

  • Aucamp (lithops aucampiae). Aucamp variety has a fairly standard grayish-green color with furrows on the leaves. Flowers up to 4 cm, yellow.
  • Leslie (lithops lesliei). Leslie is distinguished by very short leaf blades with a fine marble pattern. The color is gray-blue. The flowers are white, fragrant.
  • Marble (lithops marmorata). Greenish-gray plant with a velvet-like surface. The flowers are large – up to 5 cm.
  • Leslie Marie (lithops lesliei mariae ). Brownish-yellow “pebbles” with a shallow crevice and a dark pattern.
  • Optics (lithops optica). Have purple leaves, grow only up to 3 cm. They remind blueberries.

Purchase and adaptation

Литопсы растут очень медленно

Lithops grow very slowly

When buying, it is recommended to choose adult lithops, because they grow slowly.

If you decide to buy seeds, pay attention to the names of the varieties, but to create a colorful composition it is better to purchase a mix from the Gavrish company (d5 – diameter 5), which includes different kinds. The price, on average, is small and often does not exceed 50 r for 5 seeds.

When choosing a plant, you need to inspect and make sure there are no spots or rot. Even minor mechanical damage can be fatal.

Next you should swing a “pebble” – it should sit firmly in the substrate, which indicates a well-developed root system.The leaves, in turn, should be tight.

Special adaptation after purchase is not required – it is recommended only to transfer new pets to another land and not water the first days.


Lithops should be planted in small pots with a height of 10 cm, because they have a developed root system that tends to go down as deep as possible.

Please note! Too much capacity for a small root system will cause decay. It is recommended to choose wide plates, and the soil should pass air and moisture well.

Plants are planted in groups, otherwise the “loners” may die. You can combine them in one pot with other succulents, for example, cacti or add schizobasis to the composition in the greenhouse.

When planting, it is important not to damage the large root, but thin roots grow quickly and soon fill up the entire space.

Growing conditions

It is worth placing a pot with lithops closer to the window or arranging illumination with phytolamps. South window sills are best suited. In the warmer months, pots can be taken out to fresh air or a balcony.

In nature, lithops settle on stony lands, so similar soil is needed for cultivation.

The soil should not contain much humus or retain water.For these purposes, the cactus soil is mixed with perlite and sand (1: 2), and chalk is added to reduce acidity.

Decorative stones in the pot will not only decorate the composition, but also help maintain the microclimate substrate.

Content implies dry air – excess humidity will result in death. It is forbidden to spray.


In the desert, the temperature changes sharply twice a day – from heat to cold, so such fluctuations will not harm the plants. They tolerate heat well and feel great at a temperature of 22-25 ° C. In winter, you can lower these figures to 12⁰С, but not lower than 7⁰С.

Please note! Overheating is possible in the bright sun, since in natural conditions the roots go deep for a considerable distance into the cool ground, but this cannot be achieved in small pots.


At home, you will also have to maintain a high level of lighting, otherwise lithops can die.

Every day, at least 4 hours of direct sunlight and at least 12 hours of artificial lighting are required.

Daylight lamps are 15 cm from the plants.


Растения украсят ваш интерьер

Plants will decorate your interior

Pebbles can also grow a novice grower – care will be even easier than for other plants, despite the fact that desert succulents represent this genus .

Fertilizers and fertilizing

Feeding is often not required. Complex fertilizers are used only for specimens that have not been transplanted for a long time (from two years).

Additives are mixed with water and applied twice a year – with the beginning and end of the vegetative period. Fertilizers for cacti are suitable for this, only in twice the dosage.


Succulents grow in arid places, they store well water and are not used to excessive moisture, so the soil should completely dry.

In winter, watering ceases altogether and decreases during flowering, but during the growing season it is enough to water the flowers once every two weeks to a month.

If too much water is accidentally poured out, then excess liquid must be drained from the sump. Drops should not be allowed to fall on the aerial part. A great way is to pour water into the pan and drain the residue after 15 minutes.


The procedure is performed in case of emergency, as a rule, it is performed every 3-4 years. In this case, you should try not to touch the large root.

Only those instances that the pot has become small should be transplanted. To understand that the time has come, you need to see whether or not the root system has filled the entire capacity.

The pot should not be flat and very large. Expanded clay is placed at the bottom, and then new soil, which must be sanitized in advance. Before and after transplanting, lithops should not be watered for several days.

Additional recommendations

A few rules that will help in the cultivation of “desert stones”:

  • When flowers appear and buds are placed, it is undesirable to turn the pot relative to the sun – a constant orientation is important.
  • Lithops need regular ventilation, otherwise rot may form.
  • C in autumn and until spring, a dormant period lasts, the end of which is indicated by the appearance of new leaves and wilting of old ones.
  • trophy leaves in the form of a dried film do not need to be removed by force.
  • Slow growth allows the composition to remain for many years.

Propagation methods

The reproduction of lithops from seeds is more common, but they can be grown from cuttings much faster, since “living stones” grow quite slowly.


Reproduction from seeds is simple and economical. To do this:

  • Buy a bag of seeds – look for the names, as they often sell a mix that includes different types;
  • Sow the seeds in the appropriate pot – shallow, with holes. The soil is standard. Sow in a moist substrate at a distance, sprinkle a thin layer of sand on top.
  • The container is closed with a transparent lid or film and placed on a sunny windowsill or under a lamp.
  • You need to immediately water a little planting through pan or spraying. Do not allow the land to dry out.
  • Seedlings appear unevenly over two weeks. After a couple of weeks, it is necessary to reduce the soil moisture. After that, you should arrange good lighting.
  • The film or lid is lifted daily for ventilation.

Growing from seeds takes a lot of time, and the first flowering can be seen only after 3 years. Young “pebbles” can fall over on their side due to insufficiently strong roots – they should be supported with toothpicks.


In perennial plants many shoots – leafy can be rooted, but stalks – will die during transplantation.

Cuttings are cut during the growth period, but not flowering.The place of the cut is dried and disinfected, and the trim is dried for a week, and then buried in the substrate with the cut down to half the height.

Листовые черенки можно брать для размножения

Leafy cuttings can be taken for propagation

You can water the cuttings a little after a week. The first roots will grow only after a month. After this, you need to establish normal care.


By dividing an adult plant

You need to multiply lithops by dividing in early autumn, when the leaves grow as much as possible. To do this, the plant is vertically cut with a sharp blade or knife, the cut is dipped in crushed activated carbon for disinfection.

It is important not to damage the main root. Next, new specimens should be planted in pots at the usual depth. In the end, it is recommended to water and establish normal care.

Diseases and pests

Lithops are rarely affected by pests, and the main problem is rot over watering, lack of light and airing.

For busy people and those who do not like troubles, flower growers are advised to decorate the house not with a banal cactus, but with exotic lithops, contents which at home does not require excessive attention. You can forget about them even for a couple of months, and the plant composition itself grows well and will still be pleasing to the eye.

Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

View all posts by Anna Evans →
Copy link