Lithops lesliei – House Plants
Lithops lesliei (Living Stones) is a succulent, perennial houseplant form clumps, but it may take years to produce two or three pairs of low-lying leaves. Each plant has a short underground stem that rises from a relatively long taproot. This buried stem carries a pair of thick and fleshy semi-circular leaves, which are identical in size, shape and colour, that are fused together for most of their length, a 5mm deep fissure.
A single yellow and rarely white daisy-like flower up to 2 inches wide, emerge from the fissure, is produced in mid-to-late summer. The upper surface of the leaves is flat-topped up to 4cm thick. Leaf colour is variable, running from pinkish grey to olive green with rust-coloured spots on the upper surface of the leaves. The leaf colour blend with its natural arid, rocky background. Their fruit is a dry capsule that opens when it becomes wet, in wild, some seeds may be ejected by falling raindrops and the capsule re-closes when it dries out. After blooming, the old leaves gradually wither and dry up as a new pair emerges to replace them from the fissure between the two leaves. The Lithops lesliei plants are being taken to sell in markets for medicinal reasons.
Scientific Name: Lithops lesliei
Synonyms: Lithops orpenii, Lithops venteri, Mesembryanthemum ferrugineum, Mesembryanthemum lesliei
Common Names: Living Stones, Mimicry Plants, Stoneface, Pebble Plants.
How to grow and maintain Lithops lesliei (Living Stones):
It thrives best in a very bright and sunny position at all times. Keep the plant at least three to four hours a day. Care should be taken about exposing them to the full blast of the sun rays in summer. Such tiny plants can easily get scorched or broiled and their appearance spoiled. These plants don’t like cold drafts.
Lithops grows best in well-drained, sandy-gritty soil or use a potting mix available for cacti and succulents with an addition of 20% more sand or perlite. You can put small pebbles or gravel to get an additional decorative effect.
Water sparingly from late spring until the flower dies in the autumn, giving just enough to make the potting mixture barely moist and let the top two-thirds of the mixture dry out between watering. From autumn to spring these plants have a rest period, during which new leaves replace the old ones. During the rest period the water in the old leaves supplies the needs of the new leaves; give plants no more water until the following season. Begin watering after the old leaves completely dry.
Ordinary room temperatures are suitable for Lithops lesliei. It can endure temperatures down to freezing, but should not generally be subjected to temperatures below 10°C / 50°F.
It is not important to feed these plants at any time. Fertilizing it weakens its tissues and makes it susceptible to rot.
It can be propagated by division. Divide overcrowded clumps in early summer. It can also be grown from seed, but the seedling usually takes several years to reach blossoming size.
Pests and Diseases:
There is no serious pest or disease problems. Watch for red spiders, sciara flies and Mealybugs.