How to take care of lithops:
an easy guide to healthy lithops

Growing healthy lithops takes cactus mix soil, a 5’’ or 6’’ pot, and understanding its lifecycle to water on the right seasons, a place where the sun brightens.

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Jimena Bolívar

March 30, 2021


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Introduction

Lithops are very special succulents that require almost zero attention and are yet fascinating. These living stones don’t demand a lot of watering and you can place them where the sun brights the most and it will flourish.

You also won’t need to keep repotting it every now and then or even worry about its lifetime – it could be as long as 50 years!! I’ll give you the easy (yet complete) guide to have healthy and happy lithops.

For growing healthy lithops you’ll only need cactus mix soil, a 5’’ or 6’’ pot, and understanding its lifecycle to water on the right seasons, a place where the sun brightens.

pot with various lithops

1. How to grow healthy lithops

Soil

The soil is very important when it comes to lithops. They are from the desert, so the soil should be similar to desert conditions: gritty and compressed. It’s specific but easy to get something similar at home.

Using the same soil you’d use for succulents and cactus, the cactus mix will work really fine. However, if finding this soil is hard for you, there’s the option to make it on your own by mixing 50% potting soil or compost with 50% grit material, you can also check our blog post on how to make succulent soil.

Potting

Maybe you’re concerned about the material you should choose to pot your lithops. The answer is it doesn’t really matter whether it’s clay or plastic, the most important thing is that it has big draining holes on the bottom.

Another thing to consider is that lithops are like icebergs, they have a tiny part above the soil and a big root. This means the potting for it to be comfortable will be around 5’’ to 6’’ and plant it half an inch above the soil surface and fill the surface with colorful stones.

Repottings take at least 4 years, in case you divide your lithops, or this time can get up to 20 years depending on your lithops growth and on the pot you potted it originally.

Please be aware that since every lithops has its own lifecycle it may not be a good idea to pot them together before figuring out if it’s synchronized or even potting it with other plants that may have different needs.

Watering

This is where most people damage their lithops. It’s not an easy task to understand how much water your lithops needs. I’ll give you a general orientation, tough.

The first thing to understand is that you’ll only need to water it when it’s dry, so check the soil to make sure it’s asking for water. If the answer is yes, then you water it. You shouldn’t water it before 10 days past the last time and should also pay attention to the seasons.

Half part of the year the lithops are dormant, so you’ll probably kill it if you water. You’ll know that it’s the season to water the lithops if you perceive any sign that they are flourishing. This could be a bud between the leaves or even new leaves.

The rule of thumb for watering lithops is to water in spring and autumn and leave them resting the rest of the year.

infographic about when to water lithops

Pro tip

Understand the cues to learn when to water

Since lithops can have different origins and things as weather and soil can affect your lithops and make it follow its own calendar, not tied up necessarily to the season you’re in. The rule here is to pay attention to its lifecycle and adapt the watering to it.

Light

Lithops love light, make sure to place them where they can get a lot of it! Don’t be afraid to place it in a place where it could easily get 4 to 5 hours of sun every day – it’ll love it!

Optimal windows to place lithops are south and east ones with good light. However, when looking for the perfect spot for your lithops keep in mind that it can’t be too hot so you avoid them getting sunburned, which would damage their foliage.

2. Propagation

Flower and seeds

If a lithops is older than 3 years it may open up a flower similar to a daisy that will live from dawn to dusk.

After the flower dies it becomes a repository of seeds that will be open by the raindrops, which can be simulated by softly dropping water on it and collecting the seeds carefully.

When having the seeds, you’ll sow it just like any other succulent seed.

Divide

Another way to propagate your lithops is to divide and repot it. For this, you take it out of the pot, clean the soil until you see the roots. Then you will make a cut on the root related to the lithops you want to divide and repot it.

Pro tip

How long you should keep it on the same pot after repotting

When dividing keep the lithops on the same pot for at least 4 years. Waiting this time is important so the root will get strong enough to repot.

3. Problems

The most common problem faced by lithops owners is by far overwatering – which you will not face if you follow these tips.

You know that you have overwatered lithops if they have edema, split, have yellow and mushy leaves, and even rot root, or absence of root. In the worst case, it’ll die. Pay close attention to watering because it’s the most dangerous threat to your lithops’ health.

Etiolation

If you place your lithops where the sunlight isn’t enough for it, it will stretch to get more light causing it to lose its original form. It’s not causing any harm to your lithops, besides the aesthetic.

This is fairly common and you can solve it by placing the lithops where the sun is brighter and by making a soft transition between greenhouse light and sunlight if you bought it from a store.

Pests

Lithops aren’t likely to be attacked by pests, however, spider mites can inhabit the leaves, if this happens you can use a product such as Mite-X.

If lithops are outdoors rats can be attracted by its leaves too, for this, a mousetrap should be enough.

The gritty soil makes it less likely that lithops be targeted by thrips, mealybugs, and aphids but if this happens to you, apply insecticide soap and you’ll be good.

Conclusion

Being a lithops parent isn’t too different from parenting another succulents or cactus, you need to choose the appropriate soil, place it where it’ll get enough sun, learn the cues to water it on the right amount and you’re ready to go.

pot with one lithops

A healthy lithops grows until around 2’’ and will flourish some time between 3 to 5 years, besides the fact that it’ll live for over 50 years.

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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