How To Plant Lithops Seeds

A south- or east-facing windowsill is the best location for lithops, as they require a sunny place with at least five hours of direct sunlight each day. Keep in mind that if winter temperatures drop drastically, you might need to remove your lithops from your windowsill.

How to plant lithops

Online purchases of lithops could arrive bare-root, requiring you to plant them yourself. Lithops require a compost that is extremely free-draining, like a cactus compost. To ensure that the compost dries out fast, choose a terracotta container because it is more porous than a plastic or glazed one. You can plant them alone or in groupings.

Propagating lithops

Lithops can be multiplied by seed or division, albeit both methods need a lot of work. Lithops must mature into a cluster over a number of years before being divided. Make sure each component of the plant still has a functional taproot before carefully removing it from the pot and cutting through the roots. Each division should be repotted into a pot that is deep enough to allow the taproot to expand without being compressed.

Prepare a pot with free-draining cactus compost and extra grit to grow lithops from seed. Give the compost some water and let it drain. Cover the area with a thin layer of sand or vermiculite after scattering lithops seeds over it. Until germination takes place, keep somewhat wet; after that, gradually cut down on watering.

How to water lithops

Lithops have a very specific growth cycle, hence they require extremely specific watering. At first, this might appear difficult, but once you get the feel of it, it’s simple.

The development of the new leaves should be taken into account when watering lithops. Each year, Lithops produce new leaves that appear between the two elder leaves before progressively shriveling up (pictured). The watering schedule is determined by the development of these new leaves. The old leaves may not shrivel up properly if you water too soon after the new ones have appeared.

In contrast to most succulents, lithops begin to grow in the fall. Give your lithops a good watering during this time since it coincides with seasonal rains in the wild (early September). Around this time, flowers begin to bloom; keep an eye out for the fissure to open and the bud to emerge. For lithops to flower, they must be at least three years old.

With the new pair of leaves growing inside the old, lithops continue to grow throughout the winter and into the next spring. However, it’s crucial to avoid watering in the winter. The soil should be extremely dry since the new pair of leaves actually grows by taking water from the old pair.

The new leaves emerge in the spring as the old leaves begin to shrink. When the old pair of leaves has fully withered, begin watering once more. Water sparingly, letting the compost dry up in between applications.

Summertime, often the hottest time of year in their native southern African climate, is when lithops go dormant. Then, in early September, when growth resumes, give them a big drink. Avoid watering them during this period.

Growing lithops: problem solving

The primary issue with growing lithops is overwatering or watering at the incorrect time of year. The plants’ markings may also fade in the absence of light. The red spider mite can be a nuisance in greenhouses and conservatories.

When growing Lithops from seeds, how long does it take?

Since lithops seed resembles dust, seeding needs deft hands; alternatively, the seed can be mixed with silver sand for simpler handling. The optimal seasons to start are fall and spring, and it’s recommended to use a heated propagator or heat mat to keep the seeds’ germination temperature at a constant 20°C. Press the seed into the surface without covering it—seeds need light to germinate—and prepare a mixture of ready-dampened fine grit or sand and high-quality cactus compost that is split in half. Place the seeds in a plastic bag or under a transparent plastic top; after two to three weeks, or whenever the seeds sprout, remove the container. 12–18 months after sowing, leave in place until they are ready for pricking out.

Is Lithops seedling growth challenging?

Learn to raise lithops; they will not let you down. As long as a few simple guidelines are followed, these intriguing “living stone” plants have adapted to life in captivity quite well.

They are among the succulent house plants that have successfully adapted to growing indoors.

Although they can be grown quite easily, these xerophytes can be picky about their soil, temperature, time of day, and watering requirements.

It won’t take you long to develop a passion with cultivating them once you understand the fundamental requirements.

In a climate-controlled setting, such a greenhouse, lithops thrive in shallow containers.

See how these amazing plants change with the seasons

Since they won’t need it all day, they should be shielded from the sun starting at noon.

They will favor a bright, filtered light source, such as those found under grow lights, behind sheer curtains, or beneath shade cloth.

When you do water them, give them a good soaking so the earth is totally soaked. After that, let the soil totally dry out.

How long do Lithops seeds remain healthy?

At least twelve years, and possibly much longer, pass before lithops seed loses viability. Quite frequently, a portion of the seed sown simply does not germinate when one expects it to, but may do so a year or even two later. In fact, it often seems to germinate better after being stored for a year or two.

How often should Lithop seeds be watered?

Living stones, also referred to as lithops, can offer a unique flair to your house or garden. These stone-like succulent plants come in a variety of forms, textures, and hues, and they produce flowers that mimic daisies. Lithops, which are native to southern Africa, can survive temperatures of up to 120 F. (49 C). They can withstand temperatures as high as USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9. Although Lithops can be multiplied by dividing mature plants, starting with seeds can be profitable.

1. Combine perlite and potting soil in an equal amount. Fill the mixture to about 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) from the top of a pot with drainage holes after moistening it with water.

2. Scatter the seeds over the soil, then add a layer of fine sand or broken rock to cover them.

3. Spray the soil with water from a spray bottle. Throughout the germination stage, make an effort to maintain wet soil. To encourage soil moisture retention, wrap the pot in plastic wrap or place a glass pane over it.

4. Position the pot in a cozy, bright spot. Aim for between 65 and 80 F. (18 to 27 C). If necessary, put a heating pad underneath the cooker. Within two to twelve weeks, the seeds ought to start to sprout.

5. After the seeds sprout, take off the plastic wrap or glass window. When the seedlings begin to crowd and are large enough to handle, transplant them into individual pots. The pots should be set on a sunny windowsill.


When the seedlings are growing, avoid overwatering them. Once the top 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) of soil is dry, water the plants. Allow the soil to dry completely in between waterings after about three months. Give Lithops around five hours of sunshine each day.

Expecting the seeds to all sprout at once is unrealistic. Some seeds can take up to a year to begin to sprout.

The ideal soil for Lithops is?

Lithops are little, intriguing plants native to southern Africa that are rather simple to grow inside. William John Burchell made the initial discovery of the Lithops in 1811 while on a botanical expedition in southern Africa. He came uncovered a strange-looking brown stone with a fracture running across its surface while exploring the Northern Cape Province, not far from the town of Prieska. This odd-looking stone proved out to be a succulent plant upon closer investigation. Due to their resemblance to stones, these members of the Mesembryanthemaceae (Aizoaceae) plant family were given the names lithos and opsis. Because they resemble tiny hoofprints, these plants are called locally by the Afrikaans names beeskloutjie (cattle hoof), skaappootjie (sheep hoof), or perdeklou (horse’s hoof). Even for those with a trained eye and years of experience, it can be challenging to spot Lithops in their native habitats in Namibia and South Africa because they have evolved to blend in so well with their surroundings—looking exactly like the sand and stones they live among in shape, size, and color.

Lithops are found in dry locations in colonies that are widely spaced apart and poorly populated. The word has both a singular and a plural form. In regions where Lithops are found, there is often less than 20 millimeters of rain per year, with the majority falling in the spring and fall. A few species rely on mist or fog as their primary supply of moisture, and some are found in regions with an average annual rainfall of four or less. They can grow on quartz grit or gravely flats, stony ridges and hills of sand, decomposed granite, quartzite, shale, schist, and limestone, as well as in many different types of environments. The Nama Karoo and succulent Karoo are home to the vast majority of Lithops species, which are particularly prevalent along the Orange River basin in the Northern Cape, which spans between Namibia and western South Africa.

Due to their ability to store water, virtually the entire plant of lithops is devoted to this purpose, they may survive in these dry places. Each plant is made up of two succulent leaves that have been fused together to form an inverted cone (although some species will produce multi-headed plants). The separation between the two leaves is represented by the fissure at the plant’s top. The taproot unites abruptly at the base of the leaves; there is no stem. The plants can go months without rain because to their large, water-storing leaves. They shrivel and shrink below the soil level during dry spells (nearly always).

These tiny succulents, which have almost no stems, are partially underground. In their natural habitat, plants only reach heights of 1/2 to 1 and widths of 1 to 3 inches, growing flush with the ground. The effects of the strong heat and sunlight where they live are reduced by remaining small and maintaining a low profile. However, this also creates a challenge in illuminating the leaf cells’ subterranean chlorophyll, which is used for photosynthetic activity. Wide leaf tips have windowed cells that allow light to enter the interior of the leaf, where it is diffused before reaching the chlorophyll, which is dispersed throughout the interior leaf edges, in order to resolve this paradox.

There are at least 37 species of Lithops, and more than 145 different variants have been identified. Although they all appear relatively similar to one another, they differ largely in terms of body shape, patterns, color, and texture. They are available in several soft shades of gray, brown, rust, green, and pink. The patterns of dots, lines, or patches on the upper surface, which aid in their ability to replicate their surroundings, vary considerably. Where the markings occur, there can also be dimples or indentations. The windows may completely enclose most of the leaf surfaces or the marks may densely cover the leaf surface.

The majority of Lithops bloom in the late fall and early winter, giving out numerous-petaled daisy-like yellow, pale orange, or white blooms. On sunny days, the blooms bloom in the afternoon and close again in the late afternoon. The crack between the leaves is where the flowers appear. There are perfumed flowers. Depending on the species and circumstances, they can be anywhere between 1/2 to 11/2 inches in size.

Because lithops are self-sterile, pollination is required to create seed. The hydrochastic 4–8 chambered fruiting capsule, which protects the seed, only opens when moistened, revealing the tiny seeds. In the natural world, raindrops splash out seeds up to a few feet or up to an inch from the parent plant. Any seeds still inside the capsule are protected until the following rain when the capsule closes after drying.

Following flowering, the plant enters a dormant stage during which at least one new body grows. As the new leaves emerge in the spring, the plants begin to reabsorb the old ones. Eventually, the crack between the old leaves is where the new body emerges. The new leaves’ fissure forms at a roughly 90-degree angle to the existing fissure. The old leaves eventually decompose into a dry, papery sheath on the side of the new body. At this point, a lot of plants will also divide to create many leaf pairs, which will eventually cause a single body to resemble a little cluster.

Lithops are common novelty houseplants because they can survive in low humidity, require little maintenance and water, and are reasonably simple to grow. These plants don’t require much space due to their modest size and sluggish, compact growth. Lithops live for 40 to 50 years on average. A plant can easily be kept in the same pot for ten or twenty years. Lithops are not harmful to people or animals. (Some references even mention African youngsters consuming these plants to relieve their thirst.) In cultivation, their health is reliant on adequate bright light, effective soil drainage, and appropriate watering.

Although a greenhouse is recommended, lithops can be grown effectively on a sunny windowsill where they get about 4 to 5 hours of direct sunlight in the morning and some shade in the afternoon. The optimum site is typically a southern window, while an unobstructed eastern exposure is a fine alternative. A plant will start to grow elongated and skinny, lean to one side to get more light, lose color and turn greenish, and eventually die if better circumstances are not provided. However, take care when transferring a plant suddenly to a brighter location. It could suffer deadly injuries from sunburn.

Similar to cactus, lithops demand well-drained soil. Use specialized cactus potting soil or add sharp sand, perlite, decomposed granite, or other grit to standard houseplant potting soil to help with drainage. These plants require a larger container than their apparent size would suggest because of their enormous root systems. To provide the roots enough room to expand, pots with drain holes and a depth of 3 to 5 inches are advised. Instead of having the plant’s top directly on the soil’s surface as it would in nature, place it just a little bit above it. For a more natural appearance, several growers topdress the plant with gravel or surround it with stones. Lithops go through a yearly cycle of growth, and it’s important to water them just when necessary and let the soil dry up at other times. The main factor contributing to early death is overwatering. They decay or grow new bodies at the incorrect time of year when there is too much water present. They grow stunted if there is little water. Depending on how rapidly the potting media dries out, you need to water more frequently. Generally speaking, water the plant and let it air dry fully (probably 1-2 weeks). After that, wait a few more days before watering once more. If unsure, don’t! The optimum time to water is in the morning because this allows the extra water to drain and the top soil layers to dry off pretty fast. Here are some general watering recommendations (however species may affect them slightly):

  • from late spring to summer, water.
  • Stop watering the plant in the summer when it turns dormant. Only water until the top half inch of the soil is moist if the plant truly starts to shrivel. This will restore the plant’s firm appearance.
  • Watering should be resumed in late summer or early fall when plants begin to develop and bloom again. When the slit between the leaves starts to open up in anticipation of flowering, that is the first indication of growth.
  • Lithops need to be completely dry during the winter and spring. Stop watering the plant so that the old leaf pair can dry out and make way for the new pair. The new body should be discernible by early April. Once the remains of the previous body have totally dried out and shriveled, watering can be resumed. The plant won’t grow properly if water is given too soon since the old “leaves” will want to continue to grow. Keep in mind that when the new leaves are developing, the old ones should completely dry out.

Fertilize Use a low nitrogen, high potassium kind of lithops. Lithops can withstand extremely high temperatures provided there is sufficient abundance of fresh air. Don’t ever let the plants freeze.

Today, specialty succulent nurseries sell seeds, plants, and a wide variety of cultivars. They sprout from seeds swiftly, and under ideal circumstances, they can be anticipated to flower in 3 to 4 years. The seeds should be sown on sandy soil during the summer and covered with a very thin layer of fine sand. Water the small seeds sparingly to avoid moving them. Keep the contents damp but not soggy and place the container in a warm, sunny location. In a few weeks, the first seeds should begin to sprout (but germination may be spread out over a long period of time, with stragglers taking as long as a year). Once the seedlings are growing quickly, watering should be reduced such that the upper 1/4 of the medium dries out and the lower 1/4 remains moist. Water sparingly during this time because too much watering could dampen off the seedlings. Start allowing the plants totally dry out for a few days between waterings when they are 2 to 3 months old, and then gradually extend the drying period. When the baby plants are around a year old, they can be transplanted. Another way to multiply lithops is to divide a multiheaded plant. Lift the plant, make a clean incision through the roots, and then quickly replant it. University of Wisconsin-Madison student Susan Mahr