Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
The living stones are fascinating little succulents. The common name refers to their pebble-like appearance. The Latin name Lithops comes from the Greek meaning stone. These are also called pebble plants and stone plants.
These plants are members of the Aizoon family. They were originally native to South Africa. These plants have pairs of tiny, stone-like leaves. The top of the foliage is perfectly flat except for the cleft that separates the pair into two leaves. As the leaves mature, a new set of leaves will emerge from the cleft. As the new set of leaves expand and mature, the old set of leaves will disappear with time.
These leaves are highly modified. They have windows that enable the plant to absorb sunlight even when the living stones are mostly covered over by sand.
The plants have an active growth period during the spring and summer. They usually bloom during the autumn. However, the flowering time can depend somewhat on the species. The white flowering species are more likely to bloom during the late summer and fall. On the other hand, the ones with yellow flowers will bloom during mid-summer. The flowers are quite spectacular, and are much larger than the leaves. They’re shaped much like daisies.
The living stones must have a quick draining soil. Grit or sand is usually added to the potting soil. During their resting period, they need to be kept in a cooler place. These plants can tolerate a relatively cool temperature during the winter. However, it is best not to go below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The plants should remain dry when they’re dormant. For the rest of the year they will only need to be watered lightly. If you’re a gardener who tends to overwater plants, then avoid growing the living stones. Overwatering will kill them for sure.
These are very dwarf plants. They only reach an inch or so in height. However, each plant can expand and become a large cluster as large numbers of the leaf pairs emerge.
In some cases the tops of the leaves are elaborately colored with marbling. There can be intricate patches of contrasting colors so that the plant resembles a bird’s egg.