The Lithops “seedlings” don’t get much attention on this blog anymore. Mostly because they don’t actually do anything at all. They’re slightly dehydrated after a good and warm spring and summer without any water. Right about now would be the growing season for adult Lithops. They need water before they start splitting in late fall/winter and then you stop watering again until the old leaf set is dry like a piece of paper. I keep these guys in my South facing window in the living room. So far they haven’t shown signs of etiolation.
I’m not actually sad because they’re not growing bigger or blooming. I just kept 4 seed grown Lithops alive for 5 whole years (+1 month)!
These seed grown Faucaria tigrina have almost outgrown their pot. They have all developed a little stem and are hanging over the edge, but I kind of like the look of them. Faucaria tigrina are mesembs, but unlike Lithops, Pleiospilos and conophytum, Faucaria can handle more water and are allowed to develop several leaf sets. They’re slightly faster growing, too. Mine spend all of their time “outdoors” on my frost protected balcony, even in winter.
To be honest, I haven’t really been thinking much about them for the last couple of years. I wonder why they’re still alive when store-bought Faucarias die almost immediately after I buy them. I water when they look slightly wrinkly, but leave them in direct sun, so the soil dries out almost immediately. They have experienced scorching direct sunlight, cold and humid winters, me forgetting to water for months, staying in the same pot without a change of soil for more than 4 years and a few rounds of spider mites and they’re still here.
Lapidaria margaretae are getting more popular, which is awesome. They’re a good challenge, especially if you haven’t owned one before. I wrote a guide a while back to show you how I raise mine, but of course I forgot to show you what a Lapidaria looks like when it needs water. For a loving plant mom/dad it’s hard to look at a plant for months without watering it. Lapidaria need very little water. I water mine every 4 months (± 1 month) and only when it wrinkles up like in the first picture. If you water when it’s plump, the leaves will crack open, which will ruin the nice and clean marshmallow-like appearance. Remember to keep a Lapidaria in a small pot to make sure the soil dries out as fast as possible. I keep my plant in a tiny 3 cm terra-cotta pot with pure diatomaceous earth (cat litter).
This is basically how I’ve been taking care of my Lapidaria since I bought it in October 2015.
These Lithops seedlings from August 2015 have chosen to split in mid spring, but this shouldn’t become a problem as long as I keep them dry all summer. They look super ugly and wrinkly right now. They’re now 4 years and 8 months old and are no bigger than the nail of a thumb.
The Tiger Jaws survived another winter with no casualties. These babies have been in the same pot with the exact same soil for almost exactly 4 years now and they’re thriving. I think maybe I forgot to fertilize them the last couple of years, but they clearly like the way I’m treating them, so I’ll just continue forgetting about them. I still water them with my other succulents when the soil has been dry for a week or two and they’ve started to wrinkle up.
It’s been 9 months since I last took a pic of the Faucaria (tiger jaws). They’re still very much alive, but not much is happening at the moment. Their growth has slowed way down. I don’t think they’re going to bloom this year unless they decide to bloom in winter. Last year they flowered in early October. I guess the important thing is that they’re doing well.
Even more seedlings have woken up and the bunny ears grow longer every day. Right now the temperature drops to 3-7 degrees Celsius at night (it’s a couple of degrees warmer on my glass covered balcony), which is perfect for my winter growing succulents.
I realized that even though the Monilaria are growing bigger and seem to be thriving, a lot of them have died off this summer. The pot became slightly too big for the remaining plants, increasing the odds of rot. So I found this small terra-cotta pot and very carefully dug up my Monilaria and replanted them in the same old soil (diatomaceous earth cat litter). Hopefully they’re happier now.
A pot full of happy Lithops. They were watered by the rain, woke up from dormancy and plumped up, but I think now is the time to water them anyway. We’re heading for fall and the sunny days in Denmark are pretty much over. The perfect time for my fall-growing plants!
It’s been a couple of years since they last flowered. I’m crossing my fingers and hope they flower this fall.
My blushing Lapidaria margaretae has now been in my apartment for almost 4 years and I have watered it maybe 10 times since I got it. These are super fussy, but are still pretty easy to care for if done right.
Watering and soil
The most important thing is to repot immediately if it’s planted in potting soil. Like Lithops, Lapidaria will pop or rot if they’re standing in wet soil, because they don’t know when to stop drinking. Pure pumice or crushed lava rock is to be preferred. In addition to that, it’s best to plant your Lapidaria in a small pot, only slightly bigger than the plant to make sure the soil dries out quickly. It’s safe to water when the bottom leaves start wrinkling. It can take weeks or months before this happens. I water mine every 3-4 months or so.
It can be hard to judge if the plant gets enough light because they don’t stretch and turn pale like other succulents. Lapidaria and other mesembs do best in as much sunlight as possible if they’re indoors. Outdoors you may have to protect them from strong midday sun. Mine are in a south facing window, getting several hours of sunlight every day.
How are Lapidaria different from other mesembs?
Even though Lapidaria are mesembs, they don’t act like your average mesemb. They don’t really have a growing/dormant season. Instead of going dormant, they’re opportunistic growers, meaning that they grow new leaves if given water. Unlike Lithops and Pleiospilos, they can handle having more than 1 or 2 leaf sets. Mine currently has 5 sets of leaves. Stacking isn’t a problem with these as long as they’re healthy.
Like most of my seed grown plants, I didn’t think the Lithops would survive this long. They just turned 4 a couple of days ago and the biggest plants are only the size of my thumb nail. None of them show signs of stretching, so they’re getting the perfect amount of light, and they’re nice and plump, like they’re supposed to be. Just not in summer.. They’re splitting way too early, too.
These are my very first ever seed grown succulents and they have a special place in my heart.
I’m a Danish graphic designer and aspiring artist. I love to paint plants/nature and grow succulents and houseplants in my apartment. This is a blog about exactly that.