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Lithopswho traveled in September 1811 through the desert in Priscus South Africa. In a book published later, the scientist cited a drawing of a discovered plant. The lucky chance helped the traveler to notice between the stones like round pebbles of Lithops, so the disguise was so good.
How to grow Lithops at home? Is the care and maintenance of these unusual plants difficult?
Lithops - living stones of the desert
Lithops managed to hide from the close attention of botanists for about a hundred years, because their current name, derived from "lithos" - stone and "opsis" - looked like plants only in 1922Today, six dozen species are openly described, externally, indeed, resembling stones of various plant colors, opening yellowish or white flowers in the fall.
But the “stone” look of the Lithops is deceptive.
Two thick, fused together sheets that make up the aboveground part are literally filled with moisture.
This is a kind of reservoir where the plant stores the water supply that is so necessary in the desert, providing growth, bud development, flowering and reproduction of lithops. The size of the amazing “living stone” is modest, most species barely reach 5 cm in diameter. The leaves are mounted on an inconspicuous, short stem, and the plant is fed by a long taproot. However, even at home, Lithops grow from seeds, and the grown up “pebbles” delight the owners for many years.
In order for pets to feel comfortable in an apartment environment, it is important to ensure proper care. Otherwise, it is difficult to wait for the bloom of “living stones”, and sometimes the plants die at all.
Lithops care at home
If the care and maintenance of lithops is to their liking, they bloom regularly, their leaves are resilient and change to new ones approximately once a year. When a plant receives enough light, water and nutrition, it sits tightly on the ground and consists of a pair of leaves. As they grow, they begin to "lose weight" and dry up, and through the gap a new pair begins to appear.
As a native inhabitant of the desert, Lithops need year-round coverage. At home, pots with these plants are better placed on southern windows, but if there is no such possibility, it is possible to grow lithops at home only in a greenhouse with constant artificial lighting.
The summer temperatures prevailing in the middle lane, of the order of 20–24 ° C, are quite acceptable for guests from South Africa, because they are well tolerated by forty-degree heat. The main thing is that pets who are forced to experience high temperatures do not fall under direct sunlight. At home, Lithops with particularly hot periods subside with a hibernation, restoring vital processes only at night, when the desert cools down. How to grow lithops in an apartment?
In warm season, Lithops can be carried out in the garden or on the balcony, not forgetting to protect the pots from the sun. In the hottest months, the pots are shaded by 20–30% during the daytime. For the rest of the time, sun protection is needed only when the rays hit the plants directly. In winter, plants begin to hibernate. At this time, the temperature will be comfortable around 10–12 ° C, but not lower than –8 ° C, otherwise the liquid inside the thickened leaves begins to freeze and destroy the cells.
Lithops care at home can not do without transplanting grown plants. When the lithops root system fills the volume allotted to it, the plant is transplanted, choosing wide pots for this crop, a little deeper than the length of the main flower root. Since the lithops do not tolerate stagnant moisture, a drainage layer is necessarily made at the bottom, and after transplanting the plant for 2–6 weeks, greenhouse conditions are created, closely monitoring the soil moisture, the absence of drafts and the lighting regime.
If Lithops are very sensitive to deficiency or excess of moisture, then the soil composition for them can be practically any. It is only important that the substrate could hold the amount of water the plant needs, and was moderately nutritious.
The approximate soil composition for this species may include:
- two parts of leafy ground;
- two pieces of washed sand;
- a small amount of peat.
After planting the Lithops, the surface of the soil is sprinkled with small pebbles, crushed shells or other mulch to prevent the evaporation of moisture and the development of moss and mold fungi on the ground. Lithops can be fed once every two years, if the plant has not been transplanted into a new soil during this period. In this regard, care, as well as the maintenance of Lithops, is not burdensome and simple.
If during a lack of moisture, Lithops can live for some time due to the reserve in the leaves, then excessive watering, and especially stagnant water, quickly leads to root decay.
In order for the plant to constantly feel comfortable, you need to choose the right watering mode and be very attentive to the “living stone” condition. This is the main part of the care of a lithops at home:
- When a lithops changes old leaves with new ones or picks up buds, it needs the most abundant watering.
- But in the winter, with the onset of the dormant period, the soil only occasionally moisturizes or stops watering altogether.
From mid-April to December, Lithops can be watered after 10 days, but the plant itself can tell when it lacks moisture. This signal will be the wrinkling of the leaves in the daytime, continuing the next morning. On particularly hot days, maintenance and care of the Lithops is complicated. Plants are satisfied with an evening shower, sprinkling warm water.
With the beginning of wintering, watering is stopped. It should be resumed in February, at which time plants can receive water once every three weeks or a little more often if the process of opening the gap between old leaves is too long.
When watering, it is important to prevent moisture from entering the gap between the leaves, and that the drops remain on the sides of the lithope. This can cause sunburn or tissue rot. If regular watering is moderate, once a month the soil in the pot is well soaked that imitates the rainy season and serves to develop the root system. It is watering, the most important part of the care of lithops in domestic conditions, determines the vitality of old leaves and the appearance of lithops. If a plant receives a lot of water, its excess accumulates in the aboveground part, as a result, the outdated leaves do not die off and spoil the look of the plant.
Cultivating Lithops from seeds at home
If you want to get young Lithops from seeds, it is better to sow at home in March.
Before growing lithops, prepare a substrate based on:
- one part of red brick crushed to 2 mm;
- two pieces of sod land;
- two parts sand;
- one part of the clay and the same amount of peat.
Then the soil is steamed, stirred, cooled and loosened again. When filling the pot at 25–30% of the height, a drainage layer is made of small gravel, and then the soil is poured and moistened.
The seeds are soaked for a quick 6 hours for 6 hours and, without drying, are sown on the surface of the prepared soil.
Now the development of young Lithops at home depends only on their care. After sowing, the container is closed with glass or film and placed for germination in a warm, lighted place. In order for seeds to grow better, it is better to immediately ensure conditions close to natural ones.
- During the day, in the greenhouse or in the container area should be 28–30 ° C, and at night, only 15–18 ° C.
- Once or twice a day, the film is removed and the crops are aired for a couple of minutes.
- When the soil dries out, it is moistened with a spray bottle.
After 6–12 days, you should wait for the first shoots and prepare for a new phase of caring for lithops at home. When tiny shoots seem over the ground, they need to be aired up to 4 times a day, gradually increasing the procedure time to 20 minutes. It is important that the air in the greenhouse does not warm up above 40 ° C, and the direct rays of the sun do not fall on the seedlings. If the light is not enough, after a few days the plants signal a faded color.
When the size of young Lithops becomes equal to a pea, the surface of the soil in the pot is carefully mulched with small stones. And at the first traces of mold or moss on the soil they are treated with a solution of potassium permanganate.
Despite the difference in the growth rate of home-grown Lithops species, six months after sowing, it is time for the first shift of leaves. This means that plants are limited to watering, which is renewed only after the old leaves are completely dry. If small Lithops develop better when there is some distance between them, then adult “living stones” are planted close to each other, leaving not more than 2-3 cm intervals. The first transplant of seedlings can be carried out one year after planting,maintenance and care of which is not so difficult.