Lithops, or flowering stones - growing tips
Lithops are succulents that grow in nature in the rocky deserts of South and South-West Africa. Today, different varieties of these plants are decorated with the most modern interiors around the world.
Lithops, or flowering stones - growing tips
These strange plants are called "living stones." In order not to get someone to eat, lithops disguise themselves as pebbles.
This species was found in 1811 by the English botanist Burchell, who sat down to rest while traveling through the desert. Next to him, he found a bunch of pebbles. When trying to raise a pebble, he was surprised to notice his roots. Upon closer inspection, he saw plants that are completely similar in color and shape to inanimate minerals and are small in size.
Lithops are perennial succulents that look like flat pebbles split into two parts and store water in fleshy short leaves. They can not be confused with a cactus, but from the outside it is difficult to call plants in general.
They grow on quartz and calcareous soils and even on rocks. They are small in size, which is typical for desert inhabitants.
In nature, they have difficulty extracting water in an arid climate, so their leaves are short for survival in the scorching sun, and the roots are long, which allows moisture to be extracted from the deep layers of the soil.
The aerial part is small - the length and width often do not exceed 2-5 cm. Closed leaves resemble a hoof due to a cross section.
Interesting fact! Lithops have different types of roots: some are for nutrition, and others are contractile, drawing the plant into the ground during a drought.
The stalk is short, located inside and is invisible. Thick leaves can be of various colors (from light to blueberry, from plain to patterned), almost round in shape, due to which moisture evaporation is minimal.
Surprisingly, even in the desert you can see blooming "living stones".
Flowering begins during rains, lasts for two weeks and has its own cycles: the buds open completely from noon and close before sunset.
Flowers are up to 3 cm in diameter; they are larger than the leaves and resemble chamomiles. The color of the petals may be yellow or white, but after five days it changes under the influence of the sun. White flowers turn pink and yellow flowers become brick.
Lithops have annual growth cycles, which depend on the amount of light and rainfall during the year.
- In the summer they do not grow.
- In autumn - growth and flowering begins, seeds are formed.
- In winter, with a small amount of light, new leaves appear, and the old wrinkled ones die off in the form of a kind of skin (the so-called molting occurs), in order to store water in the new leaves in spring.
Note! The closest relative of the lithops is “living granite” or playospylos.
About 40 types of lithops were found in nature, but only 15 are available for growing at home.
Florist collections are made up of varied shades that are used to breed and create new species. It is by their color that ordinary plant lovers distinguish them.
Types of Lithops:
- Aucamp (lithops aucampiae). Aucamp variety has a fairly standard grayish-green color with furrows on the leaves. Flowers up to 4 cm, yellow.
- Leslie (lithops lesliei). Leslie is distinguished by very short leaf blades with a small pattern resembling marble. The color is gray-blue. The flowers are white, fragrant.
- Marble (lithops marmorata). Greenish-grayish plant with a patterned surface resembling velvet. Large flowers - up to 5 cm.
- Leslie Marie (lithops lesliei mariae ). Brownish-yellow “pebbles” with a shallow crevice and a dark pattern.
- Optics (lithops optica). They have purple leaves, grow only up to 3 cm. They remind blueberries.
Purchase and adaptation
Lithops grow very slowly
When buying, it is recommended to choose adult lithops, because they grow slowly.
If you decide to buy seeds, pay attention to the names of the varieties, but to create a colorful composition it is better to purchase a mix from the Gavrish company (d5 - diameter 5), which includes different types. The price, on average, is small and often does not exceed 50 r for 5 seeds.
When choosing a plant, you need to inspect and make sure that there are no spots or rot. Even minor mechanical damage can be fatal.
Next, you should swing the “pebble” - it should sit firmly in the substrate, which indicates a well-developed root system. The leaves, in turn, should be dense.
Special adaptation after purchase is not required - it is recommended only to transfer new pets to another land and not to water the first days.
Lithops should be planted in small pots with a height of 10 cm, because they have a developed root system, which tends to sink as deep as possible.
Note! Too much capacity for a small root system will cause decay. It is recommended to choose wide plates, and the soil should pass air and moisture well.
Plants are planted in groups, otherwise the "loners" may die. You can combine them in one pot with other succulents, for example, cacti or add schizobasis to the composition in the greenhouse.
When planting, it is important not to damage the large root, but thin roots grow quickly and soon fill up the entire space.
It is worth placing a pot with lithops closer to the window or arranging the lighting with phytolamps. South window sills are best suited. In the warmer months, you can take the pots out into the fresh air or balcony.
In nature, lithops settle on stony lands, so a similar soil is needed for cultivation.
The soil should not contain much humus or retain water. For these purposes, the ground for cacti is mixed with perlite and sand (1: 2), and chalk is added to reduce acidity.
Decorative stones in a pot will not only decorate the composition, but will also help maintain the microclimate of the substrate.
Content implies dry air - excess humidity will result in death. Spraying is prohibited.
In the desert, the temperature changes dramatically twice a day - from heat to cold, so such fluctuations will not harm the plants. They tolerate heat well and feel great at a temperature of 22-25 ° C. In winter, these indicators can be lowered to 12 ° C, but not lower than 7 ° C.
Note! In the bright sun, overheating is possible, since in natural conditions the roots deepen for a considerable distance into the cool earth, but this is impossible to achieve in small pots.
At home, you will also have to maintain a high level of lighting, otherwise lithops can die.
Every day, at least 4 hours of direct sunlight and at least 12 hours of artificial lighting are required.
Daylight lamps are located at a distance of 15 cm from the plants.
Plants will decorate your interior
Pebbles can also be a novice grower - care will be even easier than for other plants, despite the fact that desert succulents represent this genus.
Fertilizers and fertilizing
Top dressing is often not required. Complex fertilizers are used only for specimens that have not been transplanted for a long time (from two years).
Additives are mixed with water and applied twice a year - with the beginning and end of the vegetative period. Fertilizers for cacti are suitable for this, only in a twice diluted dosage.
Succulents grow in arid places, they store water well and are not used to excessive moisture, so the soil should completely dry.
In winter, watering ceases altogether and decreases during flowering, but during the growing period it is enough to water the flowers once every two weeks to a month.
If you accidentally pour too much water, then you need to drain the excess liquid from the sump. Drops should not be allowed to fall on the aerial part. A great way is to pour water into the pan and drain the residue after 15 minutes.
The procedure is carried out in case of emergency, as a rule, it is carried out every 3-4 years. In this case, you must try not to touch the large root.
Only those specimens that the pot has become small should be transplanted. To understand that the time has come, you need to see if the root system has filled the entire capacity or not.
The pot should not be flat and very large. Expanded clay is placed at the bottom, and then new soil, which must be sanitized in advance. Before and after transplantation, lithops should not be watered for several days.
A few rules that will help in the cultivation of "desert stones":
- When flowers appear and buds are laid, it is undesirable to turn the pot relative to the sun - a constant orientation is important.
- Lithops require regular ventilation, otherwise rot may form.
- From autumn to spring, a rest period lasts, the end of which is indicated by the appearance of new leaves and the withering of old ones.
- Atrophied leaves in the form of a dried film do not need to be removed by force.
- Slow growth allows the composition to persist for many years.
The propagation of lithops from seeds is more common, but from cuttings they can be grown much faster, since “living stones” grow quite slowly.
Propagation from seeds is simple and economical. To do this, you need:
- Buy a bag of seeds - focus on the names, as they often sell a mix that includes different types;
- Sow the seeds in an appropriate pot - shallow, with holes. The soil is standard. Sow in a moist substrate at a distance, sprinkle with a thin layer of sand on top.
- The container is closed with a transparent lid or film and placed on a sunny windowsill or under a lamp.
- You need to immediately water a little planting through a pallet or by spraying. Drying of the earth must not be allowed.
- Shoots appear unevenly over two weeks. After a couple of weeks, it is necessary to reduce the soil moisture. After that, good lighting should be arranged.
- The film or cap is lifted daily for ventilation.
Growing from seeds takes a lot of time, and the first flowering can be seen only after 3 years. Young “pebbles” can fall over on their side due to insufficiently strong roots - they should be supported with toothpicks.
Perennial plants will have a lot of shoots - leafy can be rooted, but stalks - will die during transplantation.
Cuttings are cut during the growth period, but not flowering. The place of the cut is dried and disinfected, and the scraps are dried for a week, and then buried in the substrate with the cut down to half the height.
Leaf cuttings can be taken for propagation
You can water the cuttings a little in a week. The first roots will grow only after a month. After that, you need to establish normal care.
Division of an adult plant
Lithops should be propagated by division at the beginning of autumn, when the leaves grow as much as possible. To do this, the plant is vertically cut with a sharp blade or knife, the cut is dipped in crushed activated carbon for disinfection.
It is important not to damage the root root. Next, new specimens should be planted in pots at the usual depth. In the end, it is recommended to water and establish normal care.
Diseases and Pests
Lithops are rarely affected by pests, and the main problem is rot due to excessive watering, lack of light and airing.
|Decay||The root and aerial parts are covered with dark spots, the leaves soften or swell.||Transplant the plant, adjust the care.|
A transplant is required if the roots are damaged. In other cases, the damaged part is cut with a knife and sprinkled with activated charcoal for disinfection.
|Proper care of lithops at home allows you to avoid most diseases.|
|Mushroom mosquito, insect||Tapering of leaves, visible insects, spots and white coating, damage to the skin of leaves.||Watering the soil with a weak solution of potassium permanganate, drying the soil. Spraying leaves with insecticides or washing with soapy water.|
For busy people and those who do not like hassle, gardeners are advised to decorate the house not with a banal cactus, but with exotic lithops, the contents of which at home do not require excessive attention. You can forget about them even for a couple of months, and the plant composition itself grows well and will continue to please the eye.