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.        


     

2 comments:

  1. Your system seems to work great. Do you have to split up plants? How do you restrict yourself to 75 Lithops?

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  2. Thanks Alain. Yes, as some of the pots get crowded I'll repot and split the plants. Many of the pots were planted with multiple seedlings, so the splitting is easy. With a few old plants with multiple heads, I'll simple repot into a larger container. Very few lithops species ever have more than 10 heads over their life time. Lithops bromfieldii var. insularis 'Sulphurea' is the exception. My old plant has more than 50 heads.

    I have gotten very good at restricting myself concerning the number of plants I have. :) Over the past 10 years I have really enjoyed giving many plants (especially young seed grown plants) away at our local C&S society meetings. I also have several garden shops in my area that are always willing to buy any excess plants I am willing to sell. Usually I just give them plants in trade for gardening supplies.

    When I grow lithops from seed now, and I still do, I will select one or two of the seedlings I like the best and carefully prick them out of the seedling pot and then sell or give away seedling pot with all the remaining seedlings. Many of our society members are thrilled to get a pot full of lithops seedlings. It's fun for me too.

    I continue to really enjoy your blog with all the wonderful photos. :-) Thanks.

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