How to Care for Living Stone Plants
Living stones, (Lithops), are unusual succulents that look like small, rounded stones. Living stones, also called flowering stones or pebble plants, can live up to 50 years and rarely need to be re-potted. Stunning daisy-like blooms appear in November and December, followed by a period of dormancy when old leaves die and new leaves form. Living stones aren't difficult to grow, but the plants have different water requirements at different times of year. The most important thing to remember is to water sparingly, as living stones, like all succulents, are prone to rot.
Plant living stones in a container filled with commercial cactus potting soil, or with a potting mixture made of one part commercial potting mixture and two parts sand. Be sure to use a container with at least one drainage hole in the bottom.
Place living stones where they will be exposed to 4 to 5 hours of bright morning sunlight. Without adequate sunlight, the color and shape of the plant can become distorted, and the living stones will eventually die. However, the plant should be protected from the hot afternoon sun.
Keep the soil moist in spring and summer, and water only when the soil is thoroughly dry. Stop watering after the living stones bloom in late fall or early winter, and don't water again until spring.
Fertilize living stones in spring when watering is resumed, using a balanced liquid fertilizer for indoor plants. Apply the fertilizer according to the package directions, except dilute it to half strength. Fertilize the plants again in autumn.
Care For Living Stone Plants
Plant living stone plants in coarse soil, such as potting soil mixed with pumice, perlite or a cactus potting mix. Living stones don’t require the addition of organic material, because in their native habitat, they live in soils that are low in humus. Place your living stone plant in a south-facing window where it receives bright, direct sunlight for four hours each day. While living stones thrive in sunlight, they do best when protected from full sun during mid- to late afternoon. Soak the soil until water runs out of the bottom of the pot at each watering. Don’t water again until the soil is completely dry. Stop watering living stones between October and December, or after the flowers dry and seed pods form. If your plant does not produce flowers, stop watering around November. This typically occurs in late spring. Do not fertilize living stone plants during dormancy.
- Container with drainage holes
- Commercial cactus potting soil or commercial potting soil and sand
- Balanced liquid fertilizer for indoor plants
- Guide to Houseplants: Living Stones
- Bella Online: Making Your Own Cacti Potting Mix
- National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society of Washington, DC: Potting Mixes for Succulent Plants
- Logee’s: Cultural Information: Lithops
- Cactus and Succulent Society of San Jose: Cactus and Succulent Care for Beginners
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Indoor Plants or Houseplants