When found in their natural habitat, Lithops are often mistaken for small pebbles due to their short stature, grey/brown colour and rounded heads. Because of this appearance, they are more commonly known as Living Stones.
These succulents are generally about 2-4 inches (5-10 centimetres) in diameter and only the ‘body’ of the plant can be seen, as the rest is embedded in the soil itself. The body that is seen is made up of a pair of thick semi-circular leaves that are fused together to create the whole. From this fusion, a single daisy-like flower blooms, after which the leaves break apart to reveal a new set of succulent leaves.
Lithops grow in the grassland, veld and rocky bare ground that is found in Namibia and South Africa. They are not found naturally in this region, though have become very popular as novelty houseplants around the world.
Lithops are ideal for many as they can tolerate high temperatures and survive with little water, especially during their dormant period. Lithops have a yearly cycle of growth and after the dormant period, the first sign of growth begins as the fusion between leaves widens slightly, to allow a bud to poke through.
Lithops is a genus of succulent plant which belongs to the fire plant family, Aizoaceae.
When the new leaves grow, the old ones can be removed but only after they have shrivelled completely and are papery to touch. In winter they should be watered no more than once a month while this can be increased to once a week in summer, so long as there is drainage in the pot. They have an extensive roots system and may require re-potting as they age into large deeper pots.
Did You Know?
The name Lithops reflects the characteristics of these plants as it is an amalgamation of the Greek words for ‘ops’ meaning like and ‘lithos’ meaning stones.