Lithops "Living Stones"

     The genus Lithops is a group of interesting Mesembs found in South Africa and Namibia. With an almost infinite variety of patterns and colors, they are a great addition to anyones collection. If you can grow them. Called mimicry plants, they have evolved to blend into the background of sand, gravel and rocks that they grow in. This protects them from foraging animals that might otherwise make a meal of them.
     A Lithops consists of a pair of highly succulent leaves that are fused at the base. These leaves have evolved to make the most of hot dry conditions and can retain the water necessary to keep the plant alive through months of drought. They also have the ability to absorb moisture from an occasional fog or dew.
      Lithops come alive during our winter in the Northern Hemisphere. First they will put out a daisy like flower. Then a new pair or sometimes 2 new pairs of leaves grow out of the split in the old pair. The new growth drains the energy to grow from the old pair of leaves. As they grow you will notice that the old leaves gradually wither away. I've read it's best to refrain from watering them during this time to prevent a phenomenon called "Stacking", the old pair of leaves hang on and the new pair doesn't get as large as it should. They then go dormant through the rest of the year when they should be kept cool and dry. Only water occasionally when some shrivelling of the leaves is noticed. In the winter when they start to bud a little more water is good. It's essential to have a fast draining mix, otherwise rot is inevitable. I've killed more of these than I care to admit.
       I have about a dozen or so varieties of Lithops and the care requirements of each is about the same. I also seem to have a devil of a time identifying them. For that reason I haven't tried to ID each species and this will be the only page I create for them.

Click below for a gallery of my Lithops pictures

All images and text are copyright 2005 to present, D.S. Franges, unless otherwise noted.