How to care for "live stones"?
Today, in flower shops you can find so many plants that your eyes literally run up. And some of them are so unusual and even outlandish that they will surprise the most avid gardener. Want to see something unusual on your windowsill? Then get the "live stones"!
What it is?
“Living stones” are highly succulent plants belonging to the family of Aizian, which includes about 120 species. But the most common are conophytum and lithops. The name "Lithops" can be literally translated as "looking like a stone" or "like a stone."
And such a similarity really exists, because the leaves of Lithops are so dense, fleshy and at the same time solid that they look like stones in life and in photos. No stems. Each plant has two sheets of gray, green or reddish color (some are covered with specks), having a diameter of about 2-3 centimeters and a height of about 1.5-5 centimeters. They are connected, and a flower (white or yellow) appears from the hollow between them during the flowering period.
Africa is considered the birthplace of Lithops.And despite the fact that in the wild they grow in extremely unfavorable and seemingly unsuitable conditions for plants, they require special care, without which they can simply die.
By the way, some people confuse lithops with the so-called living stones for an aquarium. But the latter are corals, so they have nothing in common with the plants in question.
So, how to care for Lithops?
Pot and soil
Not only the soil is important, but also the capacity in which the lithops will grow. The ideal option is a wide and practically flat pot with a height of about 7-10 centimeters. It is advisable to plant several copies at once, since in the wild they grow in crampedness, and do not like and do not like loneliness.
As for the soil, you can buy ready-made soil for cacti or prepare a mixture consisting of coarse sand and regular soil (1: 1) or from one part of sand, one part of pumice and two parts of clay soil.
At the bottom of the pot must certainly be present drainage, and thorough (about 1.5-2 centimeters). Only part of the root collar should be immersed in the soil, but the leaves should remain free.It is desirable to sprinkle the soil surface with small pebbles.
Even having decided on the choice of capacity, do not rush to rejoice, because you also need to find a suitable place. In summer, the plant requires an abundance of light and dry air, so a window sill or even a balcony located on the south side would be an ideal place.
But in winter, the pot should be moved to a cool place, but the lighting during this period should be sufficient. If it is not enough, you can use an additional backlight.
Live stones are heat-loving plants. In summer, the optimum temperature will be 22-27 degrees. But in the rest period, which lasts from January to March, the temperature should be lowered to 12-15 degrees. But still below 5 degrees it should not fall anyway, this will lead to the death of the plant.
Humidity should be average, with its increase the plant may begin to rot. Living stones like fresh air, so the room must be constantly ventilated. Drafts are not afraid of lithops.
How to water live stones? Immediately it should be noted that the abundance of moisture for them can be disastrous.Much better they tolerate drought. During the period of active growth and flowering, that is, approximately from April to September, Lithops should be watered about once every two weeks, and not in the usual way, but through a drip tray.
After about a couple of hours, it is advisable to drain the remaining moisture so that it does not stagnate (during this time the plant will have time to get as much as is required). The soil should dry out the cavity. Water on the leaves should be avoided. Spraying is not required.
During the rest period, watering is not required at all, at this stage the plant will use moisture, which it managed to accumulate in the leaves. By the way, in winter the leaves can darken and wrinkle.
You should not be afraid, such changes are quite normal and natural, and they say only that water is gradually consumed, and its reserves are decreasing. Gradually, the leaves wither completely and disappear, and new ones begin to appear in their place, that is, some updating takes place.
During the period of active growth, live stones can be fed with fertilizer for cacti, but not often: about once every three or four weeks.
Lithops grow very slowly, so they rarely need to be transplanted, namely once every four years.When transplanting, care should be taken, as any damage to the delicate root necks can lead to death. It is desirable to carry out such a procedure before the growing season, but you can do it at another time.
When transplanting, do not touch the root cervix and allow them to get wet. To separate the soil, earthen clod must be carefully pierced and separated with a toothpick. After this, gently shake the neck and move the plant into a new pot. By the way, part of the roots may be removed during the procedure, but they will quickly recover, so you should not worry.
At home, "live stones" multiply either by seed or division. The second option is simpler, since the plant needs to be simply divided into two parts so that each one has roots. Place the cut preferably sprinkle with sulfur. Then each part must be placed in a pot and removed for a few days in a cool place. Watering at this stage is carried out on schedule, that is, every two to three weeks.
During seed propagation, the seeds are first soaked for 5-6 hours, after which they are sown literally on the surface of the soil and covered with a film for about one to two weeks.
The container at the same time is placed in a darkened, but warm enough place. When the first sprouts appear, you can set the pot in the sun, but at first only for two or three hours. When the seedlings harden, start growing them in the usual way, observing all the conditions of care.
Diseases occur in Lithops very rarely. They may be affected by certain types of pests, in which case treatment is required. It should be carried out very carefully: with a cotton pad moistened with a special tool.
With an excess of moisture, the plant can begin to rot, and, unfortunately, it will be extremely difficult to save it, because the leaves are affected, and it is impossible to cure them completely. And if in other plants they fall off, then the “living stones” in this case simply die.
Take care of the plant properly to make you happy.