Understanding Lithops Splitting: A Natural Part of Their Growth Cycle

Have you heard of lithops? These quirky little plants are also called “living stones” because they look like pebbles in the garden. With their bulging leaves fused together, lithops are one unique succulent. But don’t be alarmed if you see yours cracking open – that’s just part of how it grows!

lithops splitting

What Are Lithops?

Lithops have two thick, joined leaves that make up most of the plant above the soil. The leaves form one fleshy, translucent body with a slit or “window” on top that lets in light for photosynthesis. Pretty cool, right? The top can have all kinds of neat patterns like freckles, grooves or spots in various shades.

When it’s time to bloom, a little bud pops out from between the leaves, usually in late spring. Lithops flowers are small, white or yellow, sometimes orange. Later on, seed pods form that open when it rains to disperse the tiny seeds.

lithops characteristics

The Splitting Process

Yes, it’s perfectly normal for lithops to crack wide open! This is how they grow new leaves and flowers. As the plant matures, it splits its existing leaves and pushes out fresh new ones from the middle each year.

You’ll first notice the old leaves start looking wrinkly and shriveled up. Then a gap appears between them as the new pair of leaves emerges, slowly growing larger while the original ones shrink away. After several weeks, the old leaves just drop off, making way for the new growth.

Lithops develop slowly overall, staying small for their whole lifespan. While they may produce several offsets over time, it can take years for a single lithops to form a compact clump. That’s why it’s common to pot several together for a fuller look.

Care During Splitting

lithops splitting

When you see signs of splitting – shrunken older leaves, a widening gap, maybe a flower bud – just leave your lithops be! This is a hands-off process you’ll want to let run its course over the next 30-60 days.

The most important thing is not to water your plant at all while it’s splitting. The old leaves need to use up their stored moisture as the new set forms. If you water, it can drown out the fresh growth and disrupt the cycle.

Lithops also may split over the winter when cooler temperatures below around 40°F aren’t good for them. Make sure to bring potted plants inside until spring.

Other than avoiding water during this phase, just give your lithops plenty of sun and a well-draining pot with enough space to split comfortably. Follow these easy tips, and you can enjoy watching your living stones reproduce year after year!

Read also:
Pleiospilos vs Lithops: Spot the Differences

Frequently Asked Questions

splitting lithops

When do Lithops split?

Lithops go through their splitting cycle once a year as part of their normal growth. For most lithops, the splitting season happens in late spring/early summer, typically around March-May in the Northern Hemisphere.

After your lithops finishes blooming those small white, yellow or orange flowers, that signals it will start getting ready to split soon after. First you’ll see the existing pair of leaves start to pucker and shrink inward. Then a crack will form between them as the new set of fresh leaves starts peeking out and slowly unfurling.

The whole splitting process, from the first signs of cracking until the withered old leaves drop off completely, can take anywhere from 4-10 weeks. By early summer, your lithops should be showing off its brand new pair of plump, patterned leaves!

So if you spot those tell-tale wrinkles on your plant in late spring, get ready – your lithops is about to put on its annual show by splitting and pushing out new growth. Just make sure not to water during this transition phase.

How fast do Lithops multiply?

Lithops take their time multiplying – it’s a slow process! The baby plants usually grow right in the same pot as the parent. So while new ones will keep popping up year after year, it builds up very gradually. Once a lithops turns 5 years old, you can split up the leaves and replant them to get even more plants going.

The fastest way for lithops to reproduce is by flowering and making seeds. When mature enough, your plant will start blooming little flowers that go on to produce and drop tons of tiny seeds. In really good conditions, a lithops might pump out new seed offspring in as little as 2 years.

With good care, a single lithops can stick around making babies for many, many years. Sure, it takes patience waiting for the colony to grow, but it’s so satisfying watching your plant family get bigger over time!

Why is my Lithops cracking?

No need to worry – cracking is completely normal for lithops as they get older and start reproducing! It’s actually a good sign your plant is healthy and doing its thing.

As those cracks spread, the old leaves will be shriveling up while fresh new ones emerge from the middle. The best thing is to leave your lithops completely alone during this splitting phase. Don’t water it at all – the new growth has to soak up the moisture from those shriveling outer leaves to form properly. Just let nature take its course!

How do I know if my Lithop needs water?

The best way to know if your lithops needs a drink is to take a good look at it. Wrinkles, puckering leaves, and a soft/squishy feel when you gently squeeze are all signs that it’s thirsty. If you notice the plant seeming to sink down into the pot more than usual, that’s another clue it’s drying out.

Keep an eye out for those telltale signs – that’s your lithops saying it could use some water! Staying on top of its hydration needs is important.

Let’s Sum It Up

Lithops are cool plants that look like rocks or pebbles. Don’t freak out if yours starts cracking open – that just means it’s making new leaves and getting ready to bloom again! Let nature take its course for 1-2 months while the plant uses up its old leaves to sprout new growth. No water needed during splitting. With some sun and soil that drains well, your living stones will keep on thriving through their normal life cycle. Pretty simple for such an awesome, unique succulent!