Living stones, Lithops - varieties and care

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The living stones do not look like plants are usually imagined: very few leaves make them appear half stunted, they grow in a barren environment and can last for decades. Originally, the well-camouflaged plants come from southern Africa, where they protect their appearance from predators. Different cultivated species are grouped according to the color of the plants and their flowers, hybrid and selected species complement the selection. Lithops are easy to care for.
Thanks to their origin in the low-water southern Africa, the living stones do not require humus-rich soil, but rather a porous and mineral reason. They really like pumice from the Eifel, because it is very permeable to water, and the grain size of two to four millimeters is ideally suited to hold the plants. Special substrate can be ordered in the specialized trade, mostly you will find everything in the department of cactuses and succulents. If you do not want to buy a substrate, you can mix compost soil and sharp sand in equal parts. It is important that in the pot a layer of potsherds is designed so that excess water can drain.
Flat planters are unsuitable for Lithops. The plants fetch deep water from their roots through their long taproots in their natural habitat, so they need deep pots that are not wet, but offer access to low-lying water reservoirs. The pot does not have to be far, because living stones do not have long leaves or broad roots. Depth is important.
From their natural home in southern Africa, the living stones are used to strong, direct sunlight. These plants do not like shadows, even partial shade. Lithops feel very well in a place with lots of sun, direct sun and long hours of sunshine every day. The plants grow best in an environment that resembles their natural habitat - so the living stones should really be kept in the blazing sun. In winter, the plants like a cool and dry place that is airy, bright but not too sunny. The plants should be able to get used to direct sunlight in the spring slowly.
Water needs and watering
Lithops are used to summer rains and otherwise much dryness. The plants have adapted perfectly to their environment, they do not lose much water by evaporation, have only one pair of leaves, the thick and meaty holding the water in the plant. Lithops are only cast when the surface of the soil in the pot has dried. And they can only get so much water that the earth is just damp - more would hurt more. The amount is then well sized, if the upper layers in the pot can dry well until the next pouring.
Watering is generally done from spring to the end of the flowering season in autumn, in winter there is no water. Because in winter, the living stones form a new pair of leaves, and the required water is drawn from the old, then dying leaves. The plants do not need more. Each winter, they form exactly a new pair of leaves, and even with watering and fertilizing you can not bring the plants to grow more, because this type of plants grows just like that and not otherwise.
Living stones are not fertilized. The plants are native to the barren soil of Africa, they get along with few nutrients and do not want fertilizer. A sandy or stony ground that allows water to drain easily is enough for them. Additives that contain more nutrients would be more damaging to the plants because they really pull everything out of the water and stony ground that they have in their natural environment.
Lithops come from a warm environment and need summery warmth. They thrive well at room temperature, when it gets warmer in spring and summer than the usual 18° C in Germany, then it promotes growth. If the plants are kept in the blazing sun at the south window, they benefit not only from the light, but also from the associated heat. However, Southern Africa is prone to cold temperatures during the night, nocturnal temperature drops down to 10° C are no problem for the plants. Below that, the temperature should not decrease if possible. In winter, however, during the resting phase, temperatures between 5° and 10° C are sufficient, the plant is resting now and does not need so much heat.
Propagation and offspring
The living stones can be pulled out of seeds. To seed, you need two plants whose flowers can pollinate each other. The seed ripens in a capsule that remains tightly closed in dry and sunlight, but is open in damp and rainy weather.The water in nature flushes out the seeds of the Lithops and carries them away, so that new plants can grow. In the living room, the gardener must take over this work and carefully slosh the seeds out of the capsule with water. Lithops can also be propagated by sharing. Narrow-standing plants are shared in late spring. The freshly split living stones should stand in a light but not sunny place and be moderately poured. In early summer, these plants are already ready to bloom and can stand in the blazing sun. In contrast, living stones that have been raised from seed will only blossom after a few years.
Tip from the editor
If you keep your living stones in a porous, mineral substrate and not in a mixture of earth and sand, you can add some green manure in very low concentration to the irrigation water in the growing season between June and October. This is not absolutely necessary, but does the plants in careful dosage but still good.
frequently asked Questions

  • The living stones are sold in shallow gravel shells - should they stay in them? - No, they should not. A substrate that is rather porous and mineral, suits these plants quite well, but a shallow planter bowl is just the wrong place to stay. Lithops have long taproots that reach deep into the ground - they need a deep pot to have enough space for the root.
  • How are the seeds treated? - The seeds are simply sprinkled on the moist substrate, because living stones are light germs. Temperatures between 15° and 20° C are ideal. The duration of germination is about five to twenty days, and if the air humidity is kept high by germinating glass, the plants may like to prevent the mold from being ventilated once a day.
Worth knowing about Lithops soonLithops or Living Stones owe their name to their resemblance to pebbles. The interesting blooming succulent plants belong to the midday flower plants, that is, most bloom at lunchtime. However, there are also varieties that open only in the evening or even at night. The special thing about the Lithops is that their new leaves break through the old ones.


  • The plants like a bright and sunny location and preferably all year round.
  • In the hot summer months, they should not be exposed to the blazing midday sun.
  • Sunburn is manifested by discoloration of the upper leaf surfaces.
  • If the Lithops spend the summer outdoors, they should get sheltered from rain.
  • Even in rooms, the plants need a lot of fresh air.
  • If the humidity is too high, the plant may tear up laterally.
  • Heat accumulation in a south window is as damaging to Lithops as constantly wet feet.
  • The plant substrate must be well drained. Normal potting soil is not suitable.
  • Favorable is a high mineral content. This is achieved by sand or small stones.
  • The best is a mixture of one third of clay-free garden soil, one-third sand and one-third pumice.
  • Even a lava-pumice mixture is not bad.
  • It is best to plant many plants in a shell, which looks better and drainage and temperature of the substrate are more stable.
  • The planter should be sufficiently deep, because the living stones form tap roots.
  • Pouring is very economical. The living stones have water-storing properties.
  • If you pour, then so much, until the earth absorbs no more moisture. Excess water is removed (coasters).
  • Wait until the next watering until the soil is well dried out.
  • Too little water does not bother the plants, too much is usually deadly.
  • While the Lithops form leaves, only minimal water is administered.
  • Too much water can cause it to burst. An injury increases the risk of decay.
  • Fertilization takes place only when the new leaves are completely formed.
  • You use cactus fertilizers in half concentration and once a month.
  • As pests wool and root lice come into question.
  • The funeral mosquito can also cause damage.
  • Woll lice can be removed mechanically.
  • Dried leaf sheaths must be removed.
  • Root lice are controlled by rinsing the root. Then you plant fresh.
  • Should spider mites show up, they are best roasted off.
  • Beware of snail!

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