Living stones look a bit bizarre. They look confusingly similar to stones, but if you take a closer look, you can see the plant. When she’s wearing flowers, it looks even weirder. Their strange appearance is probably due to the fact that the plants had to protect themselves from predators. They simply took on the appearance of rocks in their neighborhood. In addition, due to the round surfaces, they do not evaporate as much water, which is known to be rare in southern Africa and where the living stones come from. Their taproots allow them to absorb water from fairly deep layers of the earth. Living stones bloom in the fall. They open their flowers in the warm and sunny midday and afternoon hours. The flowers are yellow or white or yellow/white. Rarer are orange, pink or fuchsia flowers. The plants form a new pair of leaves every year. The old pair of leaves surrounds the new one. At the same time it serves as a water dispenser. The old pair then dies off.


There are numerous different varieties. Somehow they are all similar, but also quite different. It’s simply a matter of taste.

  • Lithops fulleri – dark dove gray leaves with a pretty pattern of rust colored lines and dark brown dots, flowers white
  • Lithops optica rubra – rote Sorte
    • slightly more sensitive to hot sun
    • Late bloomers – only late November to January, grow out of the old shell very slowly and need even less water
  • L. lesliei – very diverse species
    • Colors from pearl gray to grey-pink to olive green, rust colored spots on top, yellow flowers
    • early flowering and very willing to flower
  • L. dorotheae – Leaves cream, yellowish or pale pink light brown, in any case quite light
    • brightly colored channels on surface shaded in translucent greyish, brownish, reddish or greenish grey
  • L. coleorum – Leaves pink-grey or greyish-pink, beige or greyish-yellow
    • Translucent channels in light to medium brown with a reddish or greenish tinge.
  • L. fulviceps v. fulviceps ‘Aurea’ – light green leaves with many small dark green dots on them
  • L. gesinae v. annae – brown leaves with dark brown veining

Cone plants (Conophytum) look confusingly similar. However, they are even easier to care for and bloom in all imaginable colors. They are also very willing to share. The variety of shapes is huge.

Care of Living Stones

Caring for the Living Stone is not difficult as long as you don’t make the mistake of using too much water. The plants can go for months without water. On the other hand, too much water kills them quite quickly. Watering too much is dangerous, especially when the old leaves are used to store water. The moisture is not taken from the leaves but from the substrate. The leaves do not dry up, do not retract. Mold and rot will occur. So, use water sparingly. It is also important to use the right substrate. Otherwise, care is not difficult, and living stones are such interesting plants.


Lithops like a lot of sun and fresh air. It is therefore beneficial if you can put them outside during the summer. However, the plants must be slowly acclimated to the sun. Otherwise sunburn may occur. If you don’t have the opportunity, you shouldn’t put the plants in a south-facing window. The heat build-up that occurs there in summer is often the end of the crops. Too high humidity can cause the leaves to burst open laterally.

in summer

  • like to be outdoors
  • very bright and sunny, but take the time to get the plant used to the sun
  • warm
  • airy
  • dry
  • Lower temperatures at night, but that happens naturally outdoors

in the winter

  • Hell
  • Dry
  • Cool
  • Light frost is tolerated, but not permafrost
  • Temperatures not below 4°C and above 10°C are favourable.

plant substrate

A water-permeable, porous and mineral mixture is favorable. There are special lithopserds on the market, but you can also mix them yourself. Cactus soil is not suitable as it contains too much organic material. Especially peat is unfavorable.

  • A mixture of equal parts compost and coarse sand is beneficial.
  • Drainage at the bottom of the pot is important.
  • A lava pumice mixture is very suitable.

plant and repot

Live rocks cannot be planted out because they do not tolerate deep and prolonged frost. It can only be cultivated in a planter. This must not be too flat, because then the taproots have no space. The living stones are often sold in bowls that are too low. Drainage at the bottom of the pot and the right substrate are important. Otherwise, there is not much to consider when planting. You only have to repot when too many plants populate the pot. This is usually the case after 3 to 4 years.

watering and fertilizing

Living rocks require little water. Plump specimens are not cast at all. Only when the “stone” becomes a little wrinkled, usually starting on the side, do they get some water. Too much water damages the plants. They rot or the plant body sometimes bursts. In addition, there is always a risk of rot.

In the resting phase from November to May, there is no watering at all. You only start watering again when the old body has been properly drained. Then it is completely dry. Only then do you start watering again. There are only exceptions if the new body already shows wrinkles, which indicates a lack of water.

Lithops can survive without water for up to two years. This shows that it is better to water too little than too much. Plants don’t die if you forget them, but they do if you drown them.

There is only one exception. Lithops optica also needs some water in winter.

It is fertilized from June to October, but only every six weeks with normal liquid fertilizer, but not in the full dosage. You can also omit the fertilizer altogether. Many use cactus fertilizer and supplemental fertilizer every other watering.

To cut

There is no cutting at all here. When the old pair of leaves has completely dried up, you can carefully remove them. It detaches easily and can be disposed of.


It is best to hibernate at temperatures between 7° C and 15° C. Then there is absolutely no watering. If you have to overwinter the plants warmer, you should moisten the substrate from time to time. But it is enough to spray something with a spray bottle. You have to keep the root system alive and it doesn’t require a lot of water.


Lithops are propagated via seeds or by dividing the plants. The seeds remain germinable for years. Lithops grown from seed take a few years to flower. The seeds germinate after a few days. They have an interesting opening mechanism. Just a few drops of water are enough for them to open.

If you want to get your own seeds, you need at least two plants. They cannot pollinate themselves.

  • Sow in autumn or spring
  • Temperatures in any case slightly above 20° C.
  • Pumice gravel in the finest grain size is suitable as growing soil.
  • Light germinator – place seeds on the previously moistened substrate and do not cover them
  • Place the container in a bright place, but without direct midday sun.
  • To increase the humidity, cover the pot with a pane of glass.
  • Air once a day to prevent mold growth.
  • There is no watering, instead the pot is placed in a bowl filled with water, but only until the first green appears.
  • Avoid too high temperatures, otherwise the seedlings will shoot.

Sharing is not difficult, but amateur gardeners suffer the most losses afterwards. Shared in early summer. The freshly divided plants need a bright but not sunny place. Casting is only moderate. Division has the advantage that the plants flower much earlier.

diseases and pests

In the wild, diseases and pests are hardly known. As a houseplant, the Living Stones are threatened by wool and root lice. Spider mites also appear, mainly when the air is too dry. It is better to avoid chemical pesticides altogether. Living stones are very sensitive to it. If you don’t find any other solution, just use Rogor or Confidor.

  • Mealybugs – easily recognizable by the web. It is best to remove it mechanically with a toothpick very carefully. Often they sit in the dried leaf shells. These can be removed when they have dried.
  • Root lice – here the root needs to be washed. Then it is potted in new substrate.
  • Spider mites – a shower of water usually helps.
  • Fungus gnats – here too it is advisable to wash off the root. A substrate that is too organic is usually to blame for the infestation. With the new stew, pay attention to a mineral one! In addition, yellow boards are to be set up against the flying parents. Fungus gnats are the greatest threat to seedlings. You can recognize the infestation when the plant body suddenly becomes glassy and then dries up or dies off.
  • Snails – like to eat the flowers and leaves when the plants are housed outdoors. You leave nothing.
  • Mice – like the plants and nibble on them.

Too little light causes the plants to wilt. They get unnaturally high because they are looking for light.

Living stones are an enrichment for every plant lover. Mine haven’t flowered yet, but I’ve only had them for a little over a year. You’ve only been through two summers. So I’m hoping for next year. Otherwise, I have to admit that I probably watered the plants a little too much this year, or sprayed them on when I was taking care of the other plants and not so many new pairs of leaves formed. I’ll be more careful next year. The care is not difficult and also not expensive. Everyone who came to visit stopped at the flower staircase and said “What’s that?”. Everyone was excited. I have many rare plants, but none have attracted as much attention.

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