I’m getting a lot of questions about growing Lithops from seeds and I realize that I should have written a post about it much sooner. I started my first batch of Lithops seedlings in August 2015 and have learned a lot since then.
If you’re interested, heres a link to a collection of blog posts about my Lithops seedlings from germination to the latest post.
Germinating Lithops seeds
It’s fairly easy to come across Lithops seeds online – at least here in Europe. In the US, you can buy them at Mesagarden. Never buy seeds from China.
- Use a gritty soil mix. I recommend 100% inorganic “soil” with no peat for all mesembs. Pumice, turface or crushed lava rock is perfect. I planted mine in a mix of sand and peat and quickly regretted it because it started to turn crusty. Now I use diatomaceous earth cat litter (AKA moler) because it’s easier to find and much cheaper than pumice here in Denmark.
- Use a small pot or container with drainage holes.
- Sprinkle the seeds on the moist soil, bag them (transparent bag or cling wrap) and place the pot under grow lights or a west/east facing window. Never in direct sunlight. They should germinate within 1 week if the seeds are fresh.
When the seeds have germinated, remove the bag/cover and keep them lightly moist for the next 3-4 months. It’s best to bottom water, but spraying can work if you’re careful. The seedlings are tiny and can flip over or bury themselves in the soil.
They start to grow their first true leaves 3-5 months after germination. At this point they need to be kept on the dry side. They still need more water than adult Lithops, though. Water once a month (in warm climates probably every 2 weeks) when they start to look dehydrated and wrinkly, even when they’re splitting and growing their second and third leaf set.
~2 years after germination, they should be able to handle being treated like adult Lithops. I water mine twice in spring (March to May) and twice in fall (October to November). Of course unless they decide to split in spring or early fall, then don’t water until the outer leaves have dried out.
Lithops seedlings are prone to stretching if they don’t get enough light. Its hard to say exactly how much sun they need because obviously they can handle more hours of direct light in temperate climates, than they can in warmer climates. Mine were in an east facing window with morning sun, but under a thin cloth for protection. Generally, if they start to stretch, they need more light and if they turn pink or white, they need less.
The safest option is a grow light.
When they have grown their first true leaf set, they can handle more light, but prefer protection from strong midday sun. 4-6 hours of direct sunlight is optimal to avoid etiolation.