How to Care for a Living Stone Plant
One of the easiest plant varieties to cultivate and care for are the succulent plants found in the Lithops genus. It is also one of the most striking and beautiful plants we can have at home. Originally from South Africa, these plants can now be found all over the world. Their popularity is, in part, due to their ease of care. However, even with Lithops plants giving them the wrong care can result in them not growing. To prevent this from happening, oneHOWTO brings you our Lithops care guide by explaining how to care for a living stone plant.
What are Lithops or living stone plants?
The plants which belong to the Lithops genus are a varied group, compromising of over 50 individual plant species. originally from South Africa, they are also known as pebble plants, living stones or even butt plants. This is due to their appearance. While they can vary in color, some are the color of surrounding stones, making them blend in with their environment easily.
Living stones have an opening at the top which is like a long slit. This is actually the separation of its leaves which are rounded. This is because living stones divide and live in clump formations. The leaves of these flowering plants are mostly buried beneath the soil. The shape and color of their flowers differ according to the individual species. In most cases, a large flower emerges from the slit which grows to constitute the majority of the plant.
This very particular physiognomy is not accidental. We must not forget that it is a plant adapted to the more arid climates of southern Africa. It is a plant that has evolved to maximize its growth in environments of low humidity. For this reason, we need to ensure we provide the care levels it requires.
How to care for living stone plants
One of the advantages of the stone cactus is that it is a very easy-to-care-for plant:
- It needs a lot of light: it can be had both indoors and outdoors, although it is recommended that leave it somewhere with an abundant source of light. In fact, it can perfectly withstand direct sunlight. In addition, it is recommended it is provided at least a few hours of direct sunlight per day.
- It needs very little water: in summer and spring it will be enough to water it once every 10 days. During the colder winter months, it is best to avoid watering at all (although you will need to look out for signs it is drying out).
- Poor soil and fertilizer: regarding the type of substrate soil you need to care for a living stone plant, it must be taken into account that it is a plant adapted to hard soils. In this sense, it can even survive poor-quality soil types. Fertilizer is not recommended unless the plant is severely impoverished. In general, living stones are grown in pots and need a universal soil type. It will be enough to change them from their pot every three years or so.
- Temperature: a very important factor that must be taken into account is that this plant must be in a warm environment. In this sense, the best option is to put them in places that have a temperature between 18 and 35 ºC ( 64-95 ºF). Although it can withstand higher temperatures that reach up to 40 ºC (104 ºF) without suffering damage.
To help you when it is time to re-pot a living stone plant, take a look at our article on how to plant succulents in containers.
Dangers to Lithops succulent plants
Although it is a fairly resistant plant, it is not true that living stone plants are indestructible. There are two main enemies which can result in the death of the plant in a matter of days. These enemies are excess water and very low temperatures.
The problem with living stone plants in terms of watering is that it is not prepared for excessive humidity. In the case of excessive watering, the most common problem is that its roots end up rotting. This causes the plant to fade in color. Eventually the top and bottom parts of the Lithops plant will separate. This is why watering these plants should be avoided in winter. When there is insufficient heat to dry the substrate, it can result in the succulent having too much water. Even better is to ensure the plant is potted in a container which has suitable drainage at the bottom.
The other enemy of living stone plants is cold. This plant is best able to grow in an environment with temperatures above 18 ºC/64 ºF. Once temperatures start to drop below this level, the health of the plant will be negatively affected. When temperatures drop below 10 ºC/50 ºF, the plant will rapidly deteriorate. When frost develops on the plant's leaves, it will kill the plant quickly.
Now you know how to care for a living stone plant, you might want to know more about succulent plants in general. You can do so in our related articles on how to make a DIY succulent plant terrarium or what type of succulent plant should I get?
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