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

Growing healthy lithops requires understanding the plant so that you can for it accordingly. Read ahead to learn more.

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Jimena Bolívar

March 30, 2021


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Introduction

Lithops are very special succulents that require almost zero attention. Also known as living stones, these plants don’t demand a lot, but they enhance the aesthetics of a room effortlessly. You can place them in a bright spot where there is abundant sunlight, and the plant will flourish.

The plant has low maintenance needs, and so they won’t bother you too much. Moreover, lithops have an impressive lifespan of about 50 years. However, you do need to take care of them a few things so that they can thrive.

The lithops plant or living stones requires bright light, well-drained soil suitable for cactus and must be watered sparingly. It prefers temperatures between 65-85°F (18-27°C), while humidity should be between 30% and 40%. It needs no pruning and rare feeding.

pot with various lithops

Lithops 101

Lithops are incredibly resilient succulents that are nicknamed living stones because of their stone-like appearance. They can be found in a range of dull greyish and greenish colors. If you’re looking for a unique and practical houseplant, this is the perfect choice.

Here is a brief description about the Lithops plant which is also known as Living Stones:

  • Scientific name: Lithops marmorata
  • Named by: Nicholas Edward Brown
  • Native to: Southern Africa
  • Family: Aizoaceae
  • Genus: Lithops
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Soil pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 to 11

Every home has a different vibe and if you think the lithops are suitable for your home, don’t hesitate to get it.

I know just the place where you can get lithops from, it is a trusted seller that never disappoints me. Head over and get the succulent for your décor from this link:

Pack of 8 Live Mini Exotic Lithops Plant

I wholeheartedly recommend you consider purchasing this lithops set!

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Caring for Lithops

Here is a brief overview of the care required by the Living Stones:

  • Ideal soil: Well-drained soil with sand, perlite or any other material that adds grittiness to the mix. Cactus soil mixes work particularly well for it.
  • Drainage Needs: It requires excellent drainage to prosper.
  • Water Requirements: Opt for the soak and dry method. Water the plant only when the soil seems to be completely dry as lithops are drought resistant.
  • Sunlight Requirements: Prefers bright sunlight. Provide it with either 4 to 5 hours of direct sunlight or place it near a sunny windowsill and it should be good to go.
  • Temperature: 65°F to 80°F (18°C to 27°C)
  • Humidity: 30 to 40 percent (average levels of humidity)
  • Ideal pH: 5 to 8
  • Frost-Resistance: Poor
  • Fertilizer: Rarely fertilize it with a low nitrogen yet high potassium feeding solution.
  • Pruning: No need to prune.
  • Propagation: Occurs through seeds or division.
  • Repotting: Should only be repotted if there are any issues during the growing season.
  • Toxicity: Is not toxic to any known animals or humans.

1. What are the needs of Lithops?

Lithops is a low maintenance succulent. It requires watering according to the soak and dry method. The soil should be well-draining with a grittiness. It thrives between 65-85°F (18-27°C) and average humidity levels. No need to prune it. Fertilize it only sparingly.

Soil Requirements

The soil is a vital element to consider for healthy lithops. This plant originates from the desert, so the soil should be simulate desert conditions by being gritty and compressed.

You can use a cactus mix as it will work really well for the succulent. However, if you want to make the soil mix yourself, blend together garden soil and a gritty material like perlite in the ratio 1:1.

Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix

I recommend this succulent and cactus soil mix for lithops!

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Pot Needs

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

Another thing to consider is that lithops are like icebergs, a tiny part is above the soil while a larger part of the plant consisting the roots is underneath. This means the pot for it should give it enough space to breathe.

You don’t really have to repot lithops that often. It can take up to 20 years for it to outgrow the pot. You can even repot it in 4 years if you decide to propagate it.

Please be aware that since every lithops has a unique lifecycle it may not be a good idea to pot multiple plants of it together before figuring out if their growth is synchronized or even potting it with other plants that may have different needs.

Watering Needs

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 idea, though.

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 ready for the water. If it is, then you water it. It would help if you didn’t water it before ten days have passed from the last session.

For one half of the year, lithops are dormant and can die if you water them. You’ll know that it’s the right season to water lithops if you perceive them growing. This could be a bud between the leaves or the appearance of new leaves.

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

infographic about when to water lithops

Light Needs

Lithops love light, so make sure you place them in a spot where they can get a lot of it! They ideally need to get 4 to 5 hours of sun every day!

Windows facing south or east are the best to place lithops. However, when looking for the perfect spot for your lithops, keep in mind that it can’t be too hot. After all, you want to avoid getting them sunburned, which would damage their foliage.

How to propagate Lithops?

1. Flower and seeds

If a lithops plant is older than three years, it may sprout 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 only open up when raindrops fall on it. You can simulate raindrops by softly dropping water on the plant and collecting the seeds.

Once you have the seeds you can plant them like any other succulent seed.

2. Division

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 of the lithops you want to divide and repot the cutting.

Pro tip

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

When dividing keep the lithops in the same pot for at least four years. Waiting this time is important so the root will get strong enough to handle the pressure of being repotted.

What problems do Lithops face?

The most common problem faced by lithops owners is overwatering, which you will not encounter if you follow some good watering practices.

You know that you have overwatered lithops if they have edema, split, have yellow and mushy leaves, and even rot root, or absence of roots. In the worst case, the plant will die. Please pay close attention to watering because overwatering can be dangerous for your lithops’ health.

1. Etiolation

If you place your lithops in a place where it doesn’t receive enough sunlight, it will stretch to get access to more light, causing it to lose its original form. This won’t cause harm to the plant, but it may ruin the aesthetic.

This is a fairly common issue, and you can resolve it by placing the lithops in a spot with more sunlight.

2. 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 to it; a mousetrap should be enough to protect your plant.

The gritty soil makes it less likely that thrips, mealybugs, and aphids target lithops, but if it happens, apply insecticide soap on the plant, and you’ll be good.

Conclusion

Lithops or living stones require well-draining cactus soil, which has grittiness. The plant needs to be watered according to the soak and dry method. It needs no pruning and can be fertilized sparingly. The ideal temperature for the plant is 65-85°F (18-27°C), and the ideal humidity is average.

pot with one lithops

Being a lithops parent isn’t too different from parenting other succulents. 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.

If you want to learn more about succulents, I recommend you head over and read our post about succulent types

22 Types of Succulents. Stunning Indoor and Outdoor Succulents to Grow!

Succulents are stunning plants that can flourish with relatively minimal care. Read ahead to learn about the different indoor and outdoor succulent types!

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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