Extension and Ag Research News


Dakota Gardener: Lithops, a unique succulent

Lithops are a unique-looking, low-maintenance succulent.

By Kelsey Deckert, Horticulture agent

NDSU Extension - Burleigh County

As a gardener, many of us browse through catalogs and websites of local greenhouses. It is a source of inspiration and a great way to try something new to grow. I love succulents! I especially love having them in my office because they low maintenance. They work well in my office as I’m quite busy and can forget about them, but they will continue to thrive.

I recently discovered lithops, or living stones, through a local greenhouse’s Facebook page. I was completely intrigued looking at the photos and had to go research more about this very unique succulent.

Lithops are from southern Africa and in nature they are very difficult to spot as they have evolved to blend into their surroundings. They come in many different shapes, sizes and colors, and grow amongst diverse habitats from sandy hills to gravely flats.

Lithops have two leaves that are fused together and a fissure at the top of the plant in between the leaves. It has a taproot system that connects directly to the bottom of the leaves; it doesn’t have a stem. Its main function is to store water and can go months without water.

This unique succulent can flower during autumn and early winter. It produces a daisy-like flower that will open in the afternoon and close in late afternoon. After it flowers it goes into a dormant period which results in at least one new body that comes out of the fissure.

If I have sparked your curiosity, give lithops a try as a houseplant. They are small and compact with a slow growth rate. They can live up to 40 to 50 years and can thrive in the same pot for 10 to 20 years.

They will need to be placed in a sunny location where they receive four to five hours of sunlight. They need a very well-drained soil just like a cactus. Select a container that has drainage to plant the lithops in.

I have learned from other gardeners that they only need to be watered about twice a year. Add rocks to the container and see if others can tell that you are growing a plant!

For more information about lithops, contact your local NDSU Extension agent. Find the Extension office for your county at ndsu.ag/countyoffice.         

NDSU Agriculture Communication – April 26, 2024

Source: Kelsey Deckert, 701-221-6865, kelsey.j.deckert@ndsu.edu

Editor: Kelli Anderson, 701-231-7006, kelli.c.anderson@ndsu.edu


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