Lithops Splitting: How to Deal with It?

Lithops, also known as “living stones,” are unique succulent plants that have become increasingly popular in modern gardening. With their unusual appearance, lithops add an interesting visual element to any garden or home. But when lithops split, it can be an alarming situation for any amateur plant enthusiast.

Fortunately, there is no need to worry – lithops splitting is a normal part of lithops growth and should not be cause for alarm. In this article, we will explore why lithops split, how to tell when a lithops are splitting, and how to deal with the situation.

lithops splitting

Lithops Characteristics

Succulents called lithops have two large, fleshy, translucent leaves that resemble stones. These leaves fuse together at the soil level and taper down to form one carrot-like root structure. The leaf’s upper part contains a window-like “opening,” which allows the light to penetrate the plant and allow photosynthesis. The top of the plant can also display various patterns and colors, such as speckled lines, grooves, or spots. All these features combine to make Lithops plants unique and visually fascinating.

When the lithops begins to bloom, a bud pops out through the gap between its two leaves. Blooming typically occurs during late spring – March, April, and May for those in the Southern Hemisphere. Flowers are single and sprout from a short stem, usually displaying white or yellow hues, rarely orange. Seeds develop from November to December of the same year. Typically, the seed capsules consist of five or six parts and open when exposed to moisture; in nature, this happens when it rains, allowing the water drops to disperse the seeds. Seeds are microscopic and come in a variety of colors.

lithops characteristics

Are Lithops Supposed to Split?

Yes, splitting is an expected part of the lithops’ growth cycle. Lithops will typically split when they are ready to produce new leaves or flower buds. Once mature, the lithops should continue to divide and produce new leaves annually. Splitting usually starts at the edges of the existing leaves, and a gap appears between them as new ones start to emerge. This process can take several weeks, during which time you may notice that the existing leaves start to shrink, and the new ones get larger. As the gap continues to widen, the old leaves will eventually drop off and be replaced with new ones.

Lithops are known for their slow growth and relatively small expansion. As they mature, these plants may produce many offshoots, yet it can take years for a single plant to form a clump. To create a more robust visual appeal, it is common practice for gardeners to keep 10 or more Lithops in the same pot.

What To Do When Lithops Split

Lithops are a unique species of succulents that have adapted to survive in extreme desert conditions. Rather than developing leaves on stems, they grow foliage inside their thick, stone-like exterior. As the plant matures and outgrows its outer layer, it splits open to make room for new growth. This process is known as splitting.

Splitting is an important part of lithops’ growth cycle and should not be treated as a sign of distress. For such a plant to be properly cared for, it is essential to understand when lithops, or living stones, are prepared to split. If you suspect that your lithops are splitting, here are several signs to look out for.

To be sure lithops are ready to cleave open, watch out for the delicate daisy-like flower. After these flowers bloom, the lithops will become dormant shortly afterward. Moreover, you may notice a gap beginning to form between the two leaves as new ones start to emerge. The existing leaves may also begin to shrink and become fragile over time. You may also see small, colored dots on the plant’s surface—these seeds will eventually disperse and allow for new growth.

Once you have identified these signs, there is nothing to do but wait as the lithops completes its splitting cycle. Simply leave the plant alone and let nature take its course. The lithops can split, and the new leaves can finish growing in 30 to 60 days. You should not water it in any way while it is splitting. If you water the lithops when it is splitting, the older leaves will be forced to absorb more water and may suffocate the young leaves inside. In the long run, this might hurt the plant by disrupting the lithops’ leaf production cycle. So don’t disturb the lithops during their reproduction time!

In addition, lithops frequently continue splitting over the winter. These succulents require protection from temperatures below 40°F (5°C) because they are not frost-hardy.

To ensure that your lithops has enough room to grow, make sure that the pot it is planted in is large enough and provides proper drainage. Additionally, ensure that your lithops receives plenty of light.

Overall, splitting is a normal and necessary part of the lithops’ life, and by following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure that your lithops continues to thrive during its splitting cycle. With proper care, you can enjoy watching your lithops as it grows and changes with each passing season.

lithops splitting

Read also:
Pleiospilos vs Lithops: Spot the Differences

How Often Should Lithops Be Watered?

As succulents, lithops require much less water than other types of plants. Generally, they should only be watered when the soil is completely dry. This typically occurs every 1-2 weeks in the summer and may stretch to once a month during winter. If you are unsure when to water your lithops, check the soil by sticking your finger about ½ inch deep, and if it feels dry to the touch, it is time to water. For optimal hydration of Lithops, the best time to water them is in the mornings for two reasons: First, any extra moisture will evaporate, and second, their upper soil layers should dry out quickly.

For best results, water lithops thoroughly so the soil around the roots is completely saturated. Water until liquid comes out of drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, then allow excess moisture to drain away before returning them to their spot.

It is important to note that the amount of water your lithops needs may vary depending on age, size, temperature, and air humidity. Thus, it is important to observe your succulent and adjust the watering frequency accordingly.

Finally, always use water that is room temperature or slightly warmer. Cold Water can shock the lithops, causing it to go into dormancy.

Excessive watering leads to a frequent downfall of Lithops, resulting in their untimely demise. To ensure success with growing these plants, water them only during certain stages and allow the soil to remain dry for extended periods. Otherwise, the Lithops may rot or begin growing at improper times of the year, resulting in stunted growth. Correct water management is critical for cultivating these special plants. Let’s check water requirements season-wise:


Lithops should not be watered during summer as it can cause death to the plants due to their dormancy in this season. They should be located in dry environments, away from sources of humidity or rain. If you notice that your Lithops have become severely shriveled, a small amount of water may be applied – but only for a week, as these succulents will soon bounce back to their normal shape and size.


Lithops should not be watered during the winter months as their new leaves absorb moisture from the old ones. Low temperatures can also be detrimental, and exposure below 55°F could lead to inhibited growth or even death of your plant. Instead, allow them to enjoy the cold weather, which they have adapted to over time as it helps with their water content. Avoid touching the Lithops during this season for the best results.


As the winter season passes, wait for old leaves to become dry and fragile. Once this occurs, remove them and begin watering more moderately. To aid in the start of new growth, water lightly, then increase the amount as necessary. This will ensure that your plants can flourish in the springtime months.


In early autumn, Lithops start to grow again, which is usually evident when a bud emerges from the leaves. This shoot will eventually bloom into a flower, with new leaves typically appearing around this time. Watering should be done regularly during this period, but only when the soil has dried out since the last irrigation session.

Water Requirements During Lithops Splitting

During the splitting season, the lithops should not be watered at all. If the existing leaves become too brittle and dry during this period, you can lightly mist them with water. The lithops need to use the moisture stored in its leaves for splitting, and any additional water might cause the leaves to swell and disrupt the splitting process.

Ultimately, providing proper care for your lithops is an important part of ensuring that it remains healthy and continues to grow. By understanding the lithops’ needs and adjusting its watering schedule as necessary, you can ensure that it continues to thrive for years.

How Fast Do Lithops Multiply?

splitting lithops

Lithops generally reproduce slowly and can take many years to multiply. The seedlings, however, are usually grown in the same pot as the mother plant, so the number of plants will increase slowly but steadily over time. After a lithops has reached the age of 5 years, it can be easily propagated by separating its leaves and repotting them.

Once lithops reach maturity, they can begin producing flowers. These flowers will produce and disperse seeds, which is the fastest way for lithops to multiply. In ideal conditions, your lithops can flower and produce new plants in as little as two years.

With proper care, a lithops can live for many years and produce numerous offspring. Though it can take some time for new plants to grow, the process is well worth it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my lithops cracking?

Lithops typically crack as they mature and reproduce. This is completely normal and a sign that your lithops are doing well. To ensure that the splitting process goes smoothly, ensure not to water it and leave the plant alone to allow the fresh leaves to absorb the moisture from the old leaves to split and form new pairs.

How do I know if my Lithop needs water?

To determine if your Lithops need to be watered, the most reliable way is to observe them. Signs of dryness include wrinkles, puckering of the leaves, and a feeling of softness when gently squeezed. Additionally, if your Lithops appear to be sinking deeper into the pot, it is likely due to a lack of moisture. Paying close attention to these indicators will help you ensure that your plant always has adequate hydration.


Lithops owners sometimes become alarmed when they observe their plants splitting and cracking, but this is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle. By understanding how to care for lithops properly and adjusting the watering schedule accordingly, you can ensure that your plant continues to thrive for many years. You can enjoy the bright and beautiful blooms of your healthy and thriving lithops with patience and dedication.