Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lithops - Summer Home

Plant  Stand  for  Lithops

If you want to grow your lithops in a way so that they look similar to how they grow in nature, and you don't have a greenhouse, you have a problem.  Very few windows provide enough light to grow lithops as in nature.  This was the dilemma I faced because I wanted to grow natural looking lithops and I had no greenhouse.  My answer was to grow them directly outside during the frost free part of the year, where I had adequate light, and bring them back into the house during cold part of the year.  

Lithops are well suited for this type of treatment because they require much less light in winter when they are going through their regeneration phase.  However, lithops are sensitive to too much water and being outside in the open exposed them to too much rain.  The answer was the same as I used for some of my water sensitive other succulents, a covered frame that allowed adequate sunlight but provided protection from rainfall.   

The photo above shows the lithops stand with a screen cover which reduces light about 20 percent while maintaining the best air circulation.  Behind the stand is a plastic cover than can be pulled over the top of the stand when rain is predicted.  I have found a reduction in light intensity seems to help the plants get through the middle of summer when temperatures are highest and the lithops go through a summer dormancy.  The screen covering keeps the temperature on sunny days about 3 to 5 degrees C. cooler than when the stand is covered with the plastic, which tends to trap some heat.

I have grown lithops for the past 15 years with this method and it has worked well.  An unexpected, but welcomed accident is that the number of lithops plants I can fit on the stand is approximately the same I have space for on window sills in the house during the winter. This limits my lithops collection to about 75 plants, but I have learned to live with this restriction.        


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When You Have no Greenhouse

The Summer Plant Stand

It's true, I have no greenhouse.  However, I have a yard, and several parts of that yard receive ample amounts of sunlight.   During the frost free part of the year I have access to as much sunlight as any greenhouse would provide.  Unfortunately, there is no roof on my yard and plants placed directly in the yard are subject to all the rain that falls.  While this is natural for most plants, it can be excessive, sometimes deadly, for some types of potted succulents.  The answer to this problem was a plant stand with a transparent roof.  

I am no carpenter and the stand is no woodworking piece of art, but it works.  I reserve the stand for those succulents where the amount of water they receive must be under control. The stand is relatively small because all the plants on the stand must find other quarters for the winter and those quarters are limited.  

I have used the stand for more than 15 years and it has worked well.  I usually water the plants on the stand once every 5 to 8 days depending on the plant.  The one group of plants that are not on the stand is the lithops.  They have their own stand which you can see just to the right of the plant stand.  I'll discuss the lithops stand in the next blog entry.