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Lithops Everything about Pebble Plants or Living Stones

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Old 4th June 2009, 05:07 PM
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Default Cultivation of Lithops in Tropical Conditions

In their natural habitat Lithops have warm or hot days but cold nights down to freezing point and day length is short in winter and long in summer. This is what Lithops naturally are adapted to. Here in Germany it is similar. The main difference is that in South Africa and Namibia where Lithops grow it is sunny most every day but here a sunny day is an exception and winters have times of strong frost.

Although I have no experience myself growing Lithops in tropical countries where it is hot day and night, humidity is high and day length is similar winter and summer. I have several customers in different tropical countries who have tried. It turns out that Lithops rather easily adapt to very different conditions.

They do need a period of short days once a year that should last for two months at least. This can rather easily be achieved by giving normal daytime conditions for some hours and covering them for the rest of the day to make it dark. For doing so start at the given 12 hours daylight and reduce this by one hour per week until you reach 8 hours daylight. Keep this for a few weeks and increase again by one hour per week until you are back at normal conditions. This simulates a winter and makes sure that there is the needed resting time. It also ensures that flowering occurs. If you have 12 hours daylight all year round your plants will always grow but they will not survive this for longer than 2 – 3 years and it is unlikely that you will see flowers.

The most difficult aspect is high night temperatures. Lithops are used to night temperatures between zero and 10°C all year round. You do not have this at all. I know of someone who puts his Lithops into a refrigerator during night. This works but if you hold a large collection this of course is rather a joke than reality.

Try at least to give as much air circulation and use the coolest place you have. Some light spray with water also makes it colder for the plants. This however again increases air humidity and this is too high anyway. Be creative as there is no limit for ideas. For any other aspect of cultivation I see no difficulties.

Lithops live in arid conditions so they will need rain protection. Take care not to increase temperatures and humidity by giving this. Just some roof, no side glazing. Make sure soil dries out before next watering.

Shading might be necessary especially if you acquired new plants grown under different conditions. Protect them from too much direct sunlight until they got used to.

Sowing might be difficult as germination decreased as temperatures get higher than 20°C. (shady place, 15°C)

A plant usually tells you what is wrong. If bodies burst it is too wet all the time. Make it as dry as you can. If the new bodies push through the old ones before they have dried out they grow too fast and the dormant period is missing or too short. If no flowers occur it again is a matter of day length.

If rotting is a frequent occurrence, do all you can to reduce humidity. Give best possible air circulation and avoid any organic matter in your potting mix. Any fine stone gravel will do as long as its salt-content is not too high. Using fungicides should only be done if any improvement of conditions fail.

There is one main advantage that you have. You don’t need any greenhouse that needs most of your income to heat them through long dark frosty winters.

There is no reason not to try these plants and I would be very glad for any communication on whatever experience you have made.

Article courtesy of Uwe Beyer of

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