How to Cultivate Lithops


Lithops, also called living stones, are small succulent plants that mimic their surroundings in order to avoid predators. They have two gray-brown leaves that look like stones and shrivel into the soil in times of drought. When in bloom, a flower stalk emerges between the two stones, producing a large flower. Growing lithops is not difficult as long as you know how to create the right environment for the plant.

Step 1

Plant the lithops in a pot with a well-drained potting soil. Cactus potting medium works well, as does a medium consisting of 25 percent decomposed granite, 50 percent compost and 25 percent sharp sand. Make sure the pot has drainage holes. Place the potted lithops in a south-facing window with a sheer curtain for filtered sunlight.

Step 2

Water the lithops, soaking the soil after planting. Allow the soil to dry completely and wait two or three more days before soaking the soil again. Repeat this cycle throughout the growing season, from about March to November. Starting in November, mist the plant once every two weeks as the leaves shrivel and die. After they wither entirely, resume your watering schedule.

Step 3

Fertilize the lithops in early spring or early fall with a low-nitrogen houseplant fertilizer at half strength. The plant will not require fertilization the first few years after planting but may benefit from light feeding after that. Follow the directions on the package for application instructions.

Step 4

Re-pot the plant every few years. Lithops, although small, has an extensive root system and will outgrow a small pot. Use the same potting medium as before and plant it at the same height.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Potting medium
  • Water
  • Low-nitrogen houseplant fertilizer
  • Larger pot


  • Colorado State University Extension: Lithops
  • University of Illinois Extension: Lithops
  • Desert Botanical Garden: Care of Lithops
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About this Author

Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.