Plants A to Z

How to Grow and Care for Living Stones

Plants in the Lithops genus, also known as "pebble plants," are small, unusual succulents that have developed to look like the pebbles and rocks that litter their native African environment.

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These plants cling to the earth and grow at a snail's pace. It is preferable to plant them in the spring or fall rather than the summer or winter because they go dormant during the hot summer months and the winter months and aren't actively developing.

The plants of this genus usually have a pair of robust leaves and very little, if any, stem above the earth. The stem and quite extensive roots are found beneath the soil. A fresh set of leaves emerges in the spring, and the old ones dry up and fall off. Furthermore, all species in this genus feature daisy-like flowers that appear between the leaves in the fall and winter.

Care of Living Stones

Living stones are fascinating plants to grow because of their distinctive appearance. They're also easy to maintain. They do, however, have some unique environmental needs that must be satisfied for them to survive.

To thrive, a plant needs to be exposed to as much light as possible. If you're growing them indoors and don't have access to a bright window, you may need to invest in an artificial grow lamp to augment the natural light.

Furthermore, appropriate watering is arguably the most important aspect of caring for living stones. Drought tolerance is excellent in these plants, but too much water can easily kill them, especially if it promotes rot or fungal growth.

In most cases, however, living stones are not affected by diseases or pests that are common in other types of stone. As a result, you should maintain a minimal level of involvement in their care, which will result in their overall health.

As a matter of fact, for around half of the year, you won't have to do anything with your plants other than keeping an eye on them to ensure that they're healthy.


According to the USDA, living stones require full daylight all year, with at least six hours of sunlight on most days. If you're growing them indoors, place them near the brightest window possible, preferably one with southern or eastern exposure, and water them frequently. Elongated leaves and poor leaf coloration can result from a lack of light.


Sandy soil with excellent drainage is good for growing such flowers. Cacti require a potting mix that is specifically designed for them.


To imitate the rainfall they would experience in their natural environment, living stones must be irrigated on a seasonal basis. During the winter months, when the plant is dormant, avoid watering it.

Then, as the new leaves appear in the spring, water whenever the soil dries out just enough to become slightly damp. During the other dormant phase in the summer, stop watering.

Resuming watering in the fall, just before the plant is set to flower, will help to guarantee that the plant grows to its full capacity. If the leaves begin to shrivel up completely when the plant is dormant, a small amount of water can be used to plump them up again.

Humidity and Temperature

Even at high temperatures of up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, living stones maintain their shape and remain intact. Warm temperatures ranging from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal for them. Humidity is usually not a problem as long as the soil does not remain moist for extended periods and the plants receive appropriate air circulation around them.


These plants may grow in poor soil and don't need much feeding. Consequently, fertilizer is needed far less frequently.

Living Stones: Potting and Repotting

Although these plants barely rise about an inch above the earth, give them a 3 to a 5-inch deep container. Because they have lengthy taproots that reach deep into the soil, this is the case. The container should have a sufficient number of drainage holes to allow for proper draining.

Because extra water will evaporate through the walls of an unglazed clay pot, it is excellent. Because living stones grow slowly, you won't have to re-pot them for a long time.

If you have numerous plants in a container that are becoming cramped, carefully dig up each one to repot while keeping the roots intact. Then, fill it with fresh cactus potting mix and plant it in a new pot that's slightly deeper than the length of its roots.

Varieties of Living Stones

Living stones come in a wide range of kinds and varieties, including:

  • Lithops julii: The leaves of this species are pinkish-gray with brown patterns.
  • Lithops gracilidelineata: This variety's pale gray-white leaves with brown patterns resemble fissures on the leaf surface.
  • Lithops lesliei: This succulent has a stem with green, pink, orange, grey, and brown patterning that is barely visible above ground.
  • Lithops marmorata: This plant has a marbled pattern on its smooth gray-green leaves.
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Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci, the owner of the website, and senior writer of New York Garden; graduated from Santa Barbara City College – a famous public school in California with many diverse training professions, and she majored in horticulture.