9 Types of Pleiospilos Succulents [With Pictures]

Native to South Africa, Pleiospilos is a flowering succulent plant. It is also called mimicry plant or split rock. The plant is characterized by small fleshy leaves that look like small pebbles arranged opposite to each other. The flower blooms from the middle of these leaves. They make great ornamental plants for homes.


Types of Pleiospilos Succulents

Pleiospilos bolusii (Stone Quaggafig)

pleiospilos bolusii

Pleiospilos bolusii is a small unbranched or only slightly branched, stemless perennial succulent growing to 8 cm tall by 15 cm wide. It produces showy daisy-like yellow flowers that are large in relation to the overall size of the plan.

The vegetative body is reduced to two or four rock-like leaves that closely resemble pieces of granite, practically indistinguishable from the surrounding pebbles, serving both as a water-conserving adaptation and as a protective camouflage against animal predation.

Pleiospilos compactus (Ostrichfoot Quaggafig)

pleiospilos compactus

Pleiospilos compactus is another rock “mimic” and very variable species, that never exhibit the extreme mimicry forms found in the members of subgen. Pleiospilos.

Five subspecies are recognized by Hartmann & Leide, the nominate form, subsp. canus (Haworth) Hartmann & Leide, subsp. sororius (N.E. Brown) Hartmann & Leide, subsp. fergusoniae H.E.K. Hartmann & Liede and subsp. minor H.E.K. Hartmann & Liede.

Pleiospilos compactus ssp canus (Dog Quaggafig)

pleiospilos compactus ssp canus

Pleiospilos compactus subs. canus is a mesemb that forms rounded clusters of branches, each branch having 1-3 pairs of pale green speckled leaves looking like split rocks. It is a free-flowering species with showy daisy-like flowers that appear between the paired leaves in summer-autumn.

It distinguishes itself from the standard species for having 12 ovary cells in most flowers and capsules shortly stalked. It is a very variable rock “mimic” species, that takes in a large synonymy of about 20 names.

Pleiospilos compactus ssp fergusoniae

pleiospilos compactus ssp fergusoniae

Pleiospilos compactus ssp minor (Small Quaggafig)

pleiospilos compactus ssp minor

Pleiospilos compactus ssp sororius

pleiospilos compactus ssp sororius

Pleiospilos nelii (Splitrock Quaggafig)

pleiospilos nelii

Pleiospilos nelii is a small and nearly spherical succulent vaguely reminding for a Lithops and looking like a cracked rock (hence the common name).

The body of the plant consists of 2 or 4 globe-shaped leaves, fused at the base that naturally sit above the surface of the soil and can grow to about a height of 5–8 cm and about 10 cm across.

The leaves have a deep fissure in the middle and are usually grey-green to brownish in color with many conspicuous raised dark dots scattered over the whole surface. The plant produces a new pair of leaves from within the old one each year, much the same as Lithops and Conophytum do.

Pleiospilos nelii cv Royal Flush

pleiospilos nelii cv royal flush

Pleisopilos nelii cv. Royal Flush is a mesemb cultivar sought after by collectors for its unique purple coloring. Moreover, ‘Royal Flush’ has a deep rose flower with a white contrasting center while the flower of the true Pleisopilos nelii is golden-apricot.

Pleiospilos simulans (Liver Quaggafig)

pleiospilos simulans

Pleiospilos simulans is a slowly clump-forming succulent and one of the more unusual Pleiospilos species. It is one of the largest of the species and best suited for hot sunny locations.

Read also:
1,000 Types of Succulents with Pictures

How to Grow and Care for Pleiospilos

Pleiospilos is small and gorgeous. It looks so beautiful that sometimes you may just end up gazing at it. Therefore, to ensure it continues to mesmerize you, there are certain things that you need to do. Nothing over the top but simply getting the basics right will serve you and the plant well.


They love light and would need bright light for their growth. Therefore, you need to ensure at least 6-8 hours of uninterrupted bright sunshine for these plants. If you want to keep them indoors, be mindful of the placement. At no point in time should they miss out on the sunlight.

If you can’t ensure natural light at all, you would need to consider getting grow lights to keep them happy.


Pleiospilos do not need a lot of water to grow and thrive. You should only water this succulent when the top layer of the soil has dried out completely. In fact, you only need to water these plants in the growing season and that too in moderation.

During extreme weather in both the summer and winter months, abstain from watering the plant.


Well-draining soil is a mandatory requirement for growing happy Pleiospilos.

A good potting mix for this tiny beauty would be cacti mix (⅓) and pumice (⅔). You should also get a pot that is best suited for the split rock. Anything too big or too small is going to be a problem. Go for a 4-inch deep pot with proper drainage so that the plant never rots.


Cold temperatures are not suited to the split rock. These are desert succulents and like dry, arid and semi-arid temperatures. They will only thrive in places that are warm sans any humidity. Both cold weather and excessive water and rainfall are not suited to Pleiospilos.


Pleiospilos succulents have minimum fertilizing needs. You can go for a slow-release fertilizer only during the growing season. This succulent doesn’t like a lot of fertilizers and does reasonably well in well-draining soil, saving you a lot of stress.

How to Propagate Pleiospilos

Pleiospilos is best propagated from seeds because it is hard to find offsets to replant considering the shape and size of the succulent.

  • Step 1: Take coarse sand as the medium of seed propagation for the split rock. You should make sure that the sand is not very dry during the propagation.
  • Step 2: Take some seeds and scatter them all over the sand. Don’t spread the seeds too close to each other.
  • Step 3: Springtime is the ideal period for this and you must keep the sand tray at a spot that gets ample sunlight.
  • Step 4: Once you are done, be patient. These succulents are slow and take time to grow.


Pleiospilos is a gorgeous plant which is why it catches the attention of onlookers and plant lovers. Their flowers are particularly breathtaking. Here are a couple of the most commonly asked questions about these succulents curated just for you.

Is Pleiospilos nelii a Lithops?

Pleiospilos nelii is often confused with Lithops because they are both very similar. They come from the same family but are very different.

You can actually count the differences beginning with the appearance. Pleiospilos nelii has large beautiful flowers that are way bigger than those of Lithops. It is in fact, not recommended to grow these together as the split rock may end up devouring the Lithops.

The color of these flowers is also distinct. Pleiospilos nelii has big bright orange flowers whereas Lithops has white or yellow flowers.

They have entirely opposite blooming seasons. While Pleiospilos nelii thrive in summer and spring, Lithops grow in the months of autumn and winter.

Thirdly, Lithops sheds its leaves almost every season whereas, in the case of Pleiospilos nelii, the leaves from one, two, or even more seasons can also co-exist. It is rare but not unheard of.

Though both these varieties need very little water for their sustenance, the need for water in Lithops is way lesser than Pleiospilos nelii. The former can go months without water.

Read more here: Pleiospilos vs Lithops: Spot the Differences

When Should I Repot Pleiospilos?

Pleiospilos grows slowly and you should repot it only once every 3-5 years. If you decide to repot it, you must only do it during the growing season. Take a new pot and fill it with well-draining soil replete with pumice. This would be ideal for these succulents who cannot thrive in moist, damp soil.