Lithops! Lithops!

Got my first lithops – so excited! Do you have lithops? Ever since I learned that these crazy little living rock things exist, I’ve wanted to start a collection. They are not so easy to find. The ones at Home Depot looked too sad for me (even me!!) to believe rescue was possible.

But one of our favorite family-owned nurseries got a batch of lithops in and my collection is officially started:

The nursery owner said right away that they had been over watered…because, well, rain, rain, rain.

Lithops in a dish with pepples
Lithop collection is real

Side note on the weather: Tough to see nurseries struggling because here in Southern California we are not used to having to shelter plants from the rain. I mean, over 10 years of drought, who would be? So – so many of their succulents are water logged, can really start to see the effects on the poor plants.

I have lithops, now how do I care for them?

Over-watered lithop with cracked skin
Lithop with cracked skin from over-watering

At a glance, it seems like they would need to be cared for differently than other succulents. And for the most part this seems true, I found this great post on Lithops on Houseplant Care Guides (and immediately put my lithops out for more light! haha). Seems important to keep two things in mind – lots of light, not a lot of water.

I got this picture at the nursery of a poor little lithop that couldn’t take any more water. This is what happens – their skin splits. So sad.

When we got home I immediately got my two little guys out of their swamp houses and into new potting soil and did not water them. Oh I hope they survive and thrive!

Let’s share lithop pics!! 


3 thoughts on “Lithops! Lithops!

  1. It looks like several are starting to split for new leaves. When they say low water, they mean it. In the wild they grow where there’s about 2cm of rainfall annually. So for now, don’t water them until they’re done splitting. The old leaves will get wrinkly and wither away while the new leaves draw the water out of them and grow from inside. They have no ability to regulate how much water they absorb so if there’s too much water they burst and crack. One of the pictures looks like it has already cracked, but that may be okay. Since they shed old leaves as the new ones come in, the blemishes will eventually disappear. What kind of soil did you put them in?


    1. Hi Todd – thanks for all this really great information (and the info on your blog). We didn’t get the one with the split skin. And I haven’t watered them since I got them so that’s good. They are in a cactus soil / perlite mix – is that good? And I have one more question – the ones that don’t look like they are splitting for new leaves – do I water those ones? Or mist them or anything? Thanks again, can’t tell you how great it is to get some input on these plants.


      1. Having the cactus soil just means you’ll have to be a little more cautious. Most people plant lithops in zero percent organic material as adult plants. You can do a real watering maybe twice a year – once in spring after the leaves divide, and once in the fall, and periodically in the summer i’ll do a very light misting just to keep the roots from drying out too badly — but think of it as being equivalent to something like a morning dew, something that will probably dry back out within a day or two. For the ones that aren’t splitting, you can afford to wait, especially since they’re just repotted. It would be difficult in a single container to only water the ones that aren’t splitting. I’ve seen people who plant them in peat and water them frequently who end up with gigantic monstrosities, but that’s also high risk. 🙂 You can afford to keep them smaller and safer, and they’ll be fine. By design, they’re used to the conditions being dry and the roots dying back during the dry season and very quickly regrowing in the presence of water to take advantage of the moisture, that’s part of their natural life cycle. At some point in the future you might consider repotting them in a less organic mix, more gravel/sand/perlite/etc. Any mesemb (a special category of succulent) is in the category of liking things especially dry, even by succulent standards!
        And don’t be too heartbroken if you lose a few getting the hang of it. I occasionally still lose a few, especially in the first year growing from seed it can be tricky to adapt them to new conditions. “When in doubt– drought!”


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