Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's All About the Light

Giving Lithops Their Light

To grow great succulents there is no substitute for giving them plenty of light.  

Lithops need at least 4 hours or more of direct sunlight daily.  If you give them less, they will stretch and grow unnaturally tall.   I do not have a greenhouse, but there is plenty of sunlight available outside during the frost free portion of the year.  My lithops spend the frost-free part of the year outside, where they receive about 6 to 8 hours of direct sun daily.  While lithops can handle all the sun you
can provide, they cannot handle all the rain. 
To control the amount  of rain they receive I put my lithops on a wooden shelf I made, and cover the shelf with a piece of plastic.  I can remove the plastic (bottom photo) whenever I want to work with the plants or allow them to be rained on. 

I don't have hundreds of lithops, just enough to fill the shelf.  The reason I don't have more lithops is winter.  In mid to late October my night temperatures begin to go below freezing and all lithops have to come back inside the house.  There they spend the winter on several sunny windowsills.  This limits how many lithops I can grow, but 50 or so plants is fine for me. 

Not all the succulent plants I put outside in the summer come back inside the house in the winter.  During the past 8 years I have devised a way to over-winter plants in a special structure I call a heated frame.  I'll discuss my heated frames in an upcoming post.   Thanks to the enthusiasm of a lithops grower in Germany I have begun to sow lithops seed for the first time in five years.  I'm enjoying it tremendously, but now I have to come up with a plan to add more lithops to my collection, or, maybe give some of my existing plants away.  We'll see. 




  1. Love reading about your set-up :)
    With the speed young seedlings grow you don't need to worry about room for them yet. I have fifty 2-year-olds in three 5x5cm pots at the moment and they'll probably stay there for another year. I'm a room maker expert, haha.

  2. Hi Rika, I think you do amazing things with such a limited growing environment. My, now four pots of lithops seedlings, are doing very well. There seems to be about 25 seedlings up in each pot thus far, that's around 100 seedlings total. Of course, I planted about 100 seeds in each pot! I've never had trouble germinating seed, as I've mentioned before, my problems occur with the first transplanting. But now I have two things I am going to try thanks to you. (1) I am going to transplant into dry or nearly dry soil and not water for the first week. (2) I am going to trim back the roots to encourage new growth. Before, I tried to save as much of the old root system as possible, but I can see how your method is easier and will encourage new growth faster. Yes, you can teach an old person, new tricks. Thanks. Hope you have a great day.

    1. Fingers crossed for your youngest! Funny how you're taking my advice in transplanting lithops seedlings from dry to dry substrate while I'm currently successfully using your rooting-in-high-humidity advice. :) You'd think they're all mesembs and should be similar but there's so much adjustment to be made depending on a species or even a single plant. But that's what makes it interesting.
      Wish you a good Saturday.