Lithops Spp Plant 2.5in
Lithops Spp Plant 2.5in
The genus Lithop is in the family of Aizoaceae(synonymous with Mesembryanthemaceae), which also includes the various forms of plants known as “Ice Plants” and those known as “Mimicry Plants”. Lithops are extremely succulent bilobes (up to 90% water), occurring in many natural colors including, tans, browns, reddish browns, purplish browns, greys and grass-greens with a myriad of patterns and overlays of darker designs, dots and areas known as “islands”. These delightful plants can confuse even an expert as no two seem to be identical in appearance.
A single body can be to 1.5″ in diameter, and is split by a central “cleft”, creating the “bilobed” body. Many species eventually form clusters, and in the native habitat of South Africa, clusters gradually spread to from large colonies of Lithops that can span 6 feet in diameter. The rarer green forms occur naturally in grassy areas, while the browns, tans and other colors occur in quartz fields, providing an example of a phenomenon known as “mimicry” in which a plant, insect or animal can become almost completely camouflaged by its surroundings and is virtually undetectable. . Flowers appear from August to November, depending upon the species, and usually open in late afternoon, but open on multiple days. Plant is nearly obscured by flower heads to 1″ in diameter that are composed of frilly, satiny yellow or white petals. Watering is a bit different than for most other succulents. Lithops form new leaves within the cleft of the original bilobe. Water should be withheld as the new leaves begin to appear in the cleft. At this time, it is necessary that the new leaves be allowed to absorb the moisture from the old leaves, or the plant will be more prone to rot and the new plant formed will be smaller than before, rather than growing larger as it should. When it is apparent that the new leaves have absorbed the moisture from the old leaves ~ nothing but a dry husk will remain of the old leaves ~ that is the signal that it is time to begin watering normally again. During the hot summer months the plants will be dormant and watering should be light and infrequent, only enough should be given to prevent the plants from shriveling or appearing “wrinkled”. After the hottest part of summer, as autumn approaches, the appearance of flower buds signals the start of another watering period. Plants should be watered enough during this time that the bodies remain turgid, or, in other words, do not become “wrinkled”. Watering should be thorough, but less frequently than for other succulents. In their native habitat, Lithops often live survive many years of drought with nothing more than seasonal fogs. Lithops have evolved a strategy that enables them to absorb and store moisture from these scant fogs. As our climate is much more humid than that of Africa, the Lithop can absorb much of its required moisture from the air. One Lithop expert once remarked in regard to watering Lithops ~ “When in doubt, don’t”. During the cold winter months, watering should be light and infrequent once again, until such as time as the days grow longer and the temperature begins to warm a bit. Requires a porous soil that excellent drainage as can be attained by the addition of extra pumice or other coarse material. It is preferable that the soil does not contain much organic material, such as peat moss and that the plant is not fertilized with heavy nitrogen as this can cause an explosion of soft, flabby growth that can make the plant prone to bacterial rots. Lithops require adequate fresh air and bright, indirect light. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch during the active growing periods. Lithops are somewhat cold tolerant, but it is advisable to provide frost protection to prevent possible scarring.