6 Reasons for Lithops Shriveling (Solutions)

Lithops, often referred to as “living stones” or “flowering stones,” are a unique and fascinating type of succulent plant that many gardeners enjoy growing. While lithops can be easy to take care of for the most part, there are certain things that can cause them to shrivel and become unhealthy. This article will explore some of the most common causes of lithops shriveling and provide solutions for each.

lithops shriveling

Why Are My Lithops Shriveling?

There are a few main reasons why your lithops may be shriveling. We’ve mentioned six of the most common causes below:

1. You’re underwatering the plant

Unlike other succulents, lithops are extremely drought-tolerant and require little water, but that doesn’t mean depriving them of water completely. If your lithops are shriveling, it could be because you’re underwatering it. The shriveled plant will have horizontal wrinkles on the plant’s top. The plant will appear to have waves across it due to the creases.

Lithops require careful attention to watering to ensure they receive enough hydration while avoiding underwatering or overwatering. It is important to adjust the frequency of your watering based on the climate and season of the year, as these can affect how quickly soil in a pot dries out. For example, lithops will not require as much water during the fall and winter months compared to during the spring and summer. Properly monitoring the amount of water your lithops receives is essential for its health and well-being.

2. The weather is too hot

lithops shriveling hot weather

Lithops grow best in dry, warm climates with temperatures between 68°F and 86°F (20°C–30°C). If your lithops are exposed to temperatures beyond this range—whether too hot or too cold—your plant may start to shrivel up to protect itself from extreme weather conditions. You can detect if your lithops are suffering from too hot a climate by looking for signs of wilting or browning on the plant’s leaves.

If you suspect that the temperature could be affecting your plant, move it to an area where temperatures are more suitable. Since lithops are sun-loving plants, they require at least four hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive. Without sufficient light, your lithops may also become shriveled, so it’s important to ensure it is in a location where it can get enough sun.

3. The medium is too gritty

Lithops thrive in well-draining, gritty soil that helps store plant moisture and provides good aeration for its roots. If you find that your lithops are starting to shrivel, it may be a sign that there’s too much grit in the soil mix, which prevents water from properly reaching the plant’s roots. The indication is that your lithops will become soft and transparent.

To remedy this, mix some organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, into the medium before replanting the lithops to help increase its water-holding capacity. Moreover, make sure you use a soil mix specifically designed for succulents to ensure the best results.

4. You’re using terracotta pots

lithops shrivelling in terracotta pots

Terracotta pots can be aesthetically pleasing, but they are a bad choice for lithops due to their absorbent nature. Terracotta absorbs water quickly, meaning your lithops may not get enough moisture and become dehydrated as a result.

While you can use terracotta pots with proper drainage holes, it’s best to opt for pots made from materials such as plastic or glazed ceramic, which will help retain moisture in the soil for longer periods of time. You can also add a layer of pebbles to the base of your pot before you plant your lithops, as this helps improve drainage and prevent waterlogging.

5. You’re overwatering the plant

Lithops are susceptible to overwatering, so it’s important to ensure you don’t water them too much. A lithops plant in good health will have dense, taut leaves. Overwatering can lead to root rot and an accumulation of salts in the soil, both of which can cause your lithops to shrivel. Your plant is overwatered if your lithops succulent has vertical wrinkles rather than horizontal ones.

One of the telltale signs that you are overwatering your lithops is when the leaves begin to yellow and become soft and mushy to the touch. One more sign is that edema will start to occur, which manifests itself in brown spots on the leaves. Splitting of leaves is a visible symptom of overwatering and appears as jagged cuts on the surface. If the soil in your lithops’ pot remains waterlogged for too long, it can lead to root rot. This can be fatal for your plants as the dead roots open up an opportunity for harmful bacteria and fungi to cause severe rot in the roots and, eventually, the entire plant.

All of these issues typically happen because the plant has not been given a chance to dry out between waterings. To avoid this, you must be mindful of how often and how much you water your lithops. To prevent overwatering, check the soil before watering and only when it is completely dry. If you suspect root rot due to overwatering, you should repot the lithops in new soil and water it less.

6. It’s a normal growth cycle

lithops shriveling growth cycle

Lithops go through a natural cycle of rest and growth, which can cause some shriveling. As mentioned previously, lithops require ample sunlight to thrive, so if your plant does not receive enough light, it may look withered. Additionally, during the winter months, when there are fewer hours of daylight and temperatures drop, your lithops may naturally enter a dormant period, which will become less active and look shriveled. This is normal and should not be cause for concern, as the plant will likely recover after the winter season.

To keep your lithops in top condition, ensure they have plenty of light and water and avoid overwatering. Additionally, it is important to ensure that your lithops are planted in the correct soil and pot type for optimal drainage. With proper care and attention, your lithops will thrive and reward you with their vibrant colors.

How Do You Save Shriveled Lithops?

The best way to save a shriveled lithops is to diagnose the issue and take steps to remedy it. This may include repotting your plant in fresh soil, providing more light, reducing watering, or using a different type of pot. If you suspect root rot due to overwatering, remove the affected areas and repot your lithops in new soil.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that your lithops are getting adequate moisture, light, and air circulation for optimal growth. With proper care and attention, you can revive shriveled lithops and keep them healthy for years to come.

How Often Should Lithops Be Watered?

Lithops should be watered regularly, but not too often. Watering your lithops once in 15 days is usually enough, depending on the temperature and environmental conditions. If you are in a particularly hot or dry climate, you may need to water your plants more frequently.

As with all succulents, it is important to check the soil before watering to ensure that it is completely dry before giving your lithops a drink. Additionally, ensure to water only the soil and not the leaves, as this could lead to rot and other issues.

Do Lithops Like to Be Misted?

No, lithops do not typically like to be misted as they are typically happy in average household humidity. While the air around your plants needs to be sufficiently moist, too much moisture can be detrimental to lithops.

Instead of misting, providing your plants with adequate light and water is recommended. Additionally, you can use a fan to increase air circulation and help reduce moisture levels.


How long can lithops live without water?

Lithops plants require proper hydration to survive and propagate; however, they can thrive for extended periods of time without additional watering. Specifically, Lithops can go up to six months or more in high-humidity environments with no supplemental water while still flowering, fruiting, and producing new growth. As such, this succulent can survive and reproduce without regular watering.

What does an overwatered lithops look like?

If your lithops appear shrunken, soft, and yellowish, it is likely a result of overwatering. Additionally, you may notice brown spots with blister-like texture, known as edema, forming on the leaves. Overfilled water can cause the leaves to rupture as well. Uncharacteristic stretching and lengthening of the plant are other signs of overwatering.


Lithops are tiny, peculiar succulent plants from South Africa that resemble rocks in a very specific way. Because of their distinctive appearance, they are known as “Living Stones” and are a favorite amongst succulent enthusiasts. If you’re looking for an eye-catching, captivating plant to add a bit of intrigue to your home or garden, Lithops is a perfect choice.

This extraordinary succulent requires thoughtful care and regular monitoring to thrive. To keep your lithops from shrivelling, make sure to provide them with adequate light, water, air circulation, and drainage. Additionally, avoid overwatering or underwatering your plant, as this can cause root rot and other issues. You can enjoy years of vibrant colors from your lithops with proper care and attention.