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 Lithops cultivation help needed

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prier

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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:03 pm

Sorry but I have to disagree with you there, I believe lithops should never be watered in summer, and deffinately watered in winter. They have an almost opposite growth period to common cacti.
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calycium
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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:20 pm

Lithops should be watered whenever the lose enough water and wrinkle.
They shouldn't be watered once they flower and then split and grow new leaves as they need to exhaust all of the old leaves.

Lithops LOVE water and will soak it all up until of course they "burst" / split or just rot away at the base where the plant meets soil.

I have to say that they DON'T need watering over winter, but unlike conophytum (who are opposite to most other cacti) - Lithops DO NEED water in summer.

Note: CAPITALS used to emphasize the difference only, I'm not yelling or anything


Last edited by calycium on Sat Aug 09, 2008 10:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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parrotsheaven
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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:23 pm

prier wrote:
Sorry but I have to disagree with you there, I believe lithops should never be watered in summer, and deffinately watered in winter. They have an almost opposite growth period to common cacti.

Sorry but I am not sure where you got your information from but lithops should not be watered in winter. Please find an article from the Mesemb Group on Lithops. Didge Rowe and authority on growing lithops and mesembs has added bits for Australian growers.

Conophytum another mesemb have the opposite growth to Lithops and are winter growers.

An introduction to Cultivating Lithops.



The following excellent introductory article was written for cool-temperate climates with frosty winters but this will be a very suitable guide for most hobbyists with a similar climate. I have inserted a few comments in italics to make it a little more versatile. Didge Rowe.



Quoted from Marjorie Shields' article from the Nov/Dec. 1968, issue of the now disbanded African Succulent Plant Society Bulletin.

"Contrary to the prevailing idea, Lithops are not difficult to grow when once the growing cycle is understood, and this is the cycle. Cease watering as soon as the flowers fade and do not water again until the old bodies are reduced to a papery skin and new bodies have emerged to take their place. In climates with warmer winters, this very long period of dry treatment may be too harsh.

Then recommence watering, increasing the amount as flower buds appear, ceasing again as the blossoms fade and the seed pods form. It is as simple as that. Note that some species (e.g. L.pseudotruncatella) can flower as early as late spring, so these will require continued watering throughout mild, repeat mild summers. In hotter climates, cultivation needs be somewhat different. A very rough rule of thumb is that if your night temperatures are uncomfortable to a human then they probably will be for Lithops. This can induce a state of true dormancy (CAM-idling) so one must water very carefully at such times. For example, the Israeli Cactus & Succulent Society advocate a two month midwinter and a two month midsummer dry ‘rest’ for Lithops. I think that this is too calendar-oriented - it should be a more weather-oriented approach to watering but it is a good starting point.

Do not think for a moment that the plants are resting or are dormant during the dry winter and (early) spring period when no water is given. Note: Many Lithops species occur in the winter rain belt. Far from it! They are working hard producing a new plant body and they prefer to do this unaided, without any help or interference from us. While we were busy watering during summer and autumn, the plants were also busy, storing up that water into their swelling bodies and turning it (& nutrients) into plant food ready for the new plant (body) to feed on, and which begins to develop as soon as the flowers fade. From now on this developing plant relies entirely on the nourishment provided for it in the body of the parent plant, which has now stopped growing. It is useless watering it for as the roots have ceased to function (highly debatable but only of academic interest in colder climates) more harm than good may be done, as the damp soil could cause them to rot. In warmer climates, the roots certainly are active and some watering; to at least avoid undue desiccation of roots may be essential)

The roots now look more like pieces of stiff, frayed string than roots and appear completely dried up and dead. This I discovered when, with much trepidation, my plants were transferred from tins to the open bed in the spring of the year, so even though you see the once beautiful bodies shrivelling, don't be tempted to water. The plant is not drying, it is just a natural process for the old bodies to shrink and shrivel as all the nourishing substances are drawn from them by the young developing plant. But once the goodness has gone from the old leaves, the roots again come to life, for the new plant must be fed. Thick white roots now appear at the tips of the dead-looking, frayed, stringy ones. This to, I say, when transplanting them, as one Lithops was further advanced than the rest.

When the old bodies are reduced to a papery skin, this splits and the plant emerges - a real living gem stone, its pristine beauty neither marred by weather nor faded by the hot sun. The plants may now be watered regularly. As the outer covering begins to disappear it is not wise to help it along by peeling it off yourself, for the plant underneath could be damaged in the process and the tender skin suffer sunburn, so leave it to nature. By now it will be early summer and this is the time to re pot if necessary, but as the plant uses the soil for only three or four months in the year a Lithops may remain in the same pot for several years and come to no harm, only if it is a clustering type, re potting into a larger container may be necessary.

Cuttings may also be taken at this time of the year - early summer – by removing a body very carefully, cutting it off below the body with a pair of fine pointed scissors, always leave a short section of stem on the plant body. Stem alone contains essential root primordia. No stem equals no roots. take care not to cut or damage the plant in any way. Set the cutting in sandy soil and after a week or two slightly dampen the soil when roots will soon appear and it will also flower later on in the same season, for this is a mature plant and not a seedling.

A very sandy soil is necessary - half coarse sand and fine gravel to equal quantities of loam and leaf mould suits them well. When planting see that the roots go down quite straight - this is important. After planting cover the whole surface with fine gravel, thick enough to keep the plant bodies away from the soil.

Seedlings are treated in the same way as adult plants only, as they shed their skins more frequently, water only when they break though them and cease as soon as the bodies show signs of shrivelling. This happens several times during the year, more frequently when very young and as they grow, not so often. So watch the plants, they will tell you when and when not to water, but keep them growing." That’s all for now. Marjorie Shields. ASPS. 1968.



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prier

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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:49 pm

I stand corrected, great article.
I learnt about lithops from working with them and being handed down information orally. I haven't read much about them. I personally haven't grown them either. Where I worked, I've propagated them from cuttings, been involved in growing them from seed, but I haven't actually had to water them. I do recall being told a little about that though, and I just tried to repeat what I'd heard without real experience.
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mutant
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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:10 am

Hello, I got my hands on 100+ mixed lithops plants { I bought 3xmallish pots at 5 euros each, where they were crowded and it was impossible for them to grow}. Various colours of them, I estimate them to be 2-3 years old, some might be flowering for the first time this year [in 9 months or so]

The variety is great but I am not an expert for sure. I have only killed 3 lithops , and one argyroderma, while one lithops is still alive. I suppose I am not terrible , and I know one has to kill such a plant to learn how to grow it. Last two I lost were because I stupidly forgot the plants at our automn rain. They were just forming the flowerbuds [my/their first] when I brought it inside and I only saw the first flower of one, then it melted!

Well I separated the new ones so as to have many options on the groupings I will do with them , 100+ are quite a lot, I haven't taken all the soil off them, they look fine....

Most of them are spliting now, I have left them inside to let them dry a bit [the pots were watered, and some of them had injuries from squeezing - gravel didn't help even though it was rightly in the soil mix in good proportion...

I know about not watering while they're splitting. Does this mean I should NOT risk repotting any before they complete this proceedure? What else should I take care? Should I leave the soil mix I will plant them in to dry before I repot? Do I begin watering after each completes the splitting?

PS[edit] - there they are !!!!



they seem like they are all going to split - some have already splitted and almost no water is left in old 'leaves'...
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mutant
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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:55 pm

I planted them, 10-12 per clay pot, in 9 pots [one of them took all of the more disformed and young].

I tried to let the soil-sand-perlite mix dry a bit. Let's hope this is the begining of a nice lithops experience over the following years!!!

Total cost in euros:
clay pots x10 = 8 euros
lithops potsx3 = 15 euros
soil mix = minimal cost
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cryptocarpa
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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Fri Feb 05, 2010 8:47 am

I just want to add to this thread that it is very important not to put lithops in direct sun for 2-3 weeks after replanting because their tiny roots take a while to recover and they will scorch. I made this mistake with a batch and lost most of them, it was only october but the sun was still to much.
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mutant
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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:57 am

Hmmm thanks, that's useful to know. What about watering? Should I start watering a bit those who have completed the splitting proceedure?? What about the smaller ones, do they need more watering as their water tanks are smaller too?
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mutant
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PostSubject: Re: Lithops cultivation help needed   Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:17 am




most have completed splitting, things look OK so far....
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