Propagation of Lithops

 Lithops propagation is in most cases done by sowing. It is possible to take offsets from clusters but this is slow and most lithops growers do not want to disturb their old specimens. In itself it is not difficult to take offsets from a cluster as long as parts of the roots are included. Just do this in spring and plant them in your standard lithops soil. Wait 2 weeks and start watering slowly. As soon as the small plants swells you now the root system has started and the plant can be treated as the rest.

To sow you need seeds. Lithops seeds are like dust with a size between 0.4 and 1 mm. Good seed suppliers (see links) mostly sell them in portions of 20. Normally this delivers between 10 and 20 seedlings with my method of sowing. Some cultivars germinate not so well and it is probably for that reason that they stay scarce. With the help of Artificial light it is possible to sow Lithops the whole year. There is an exception in the summer, the temperatures are too high both in the greenhouse as in house resulting in lower germination results. I sow preferably in October with help of LED- lights (see links for my lamp) mixed with natural light.  I never do this in the greenhouse. My experience is that there are always Sciara flies present in the greenhouse and the can cause gigantic losses in young lithops seedlings. In house there are less problems but do not keep normal house plants in the same room as the seedlings. A friend of mine is keeping carnivorous plants together with his plants and this works.

I grow my seedlings on a windowsill facing North with a 15 Watt LED light on top of a 35 X 23 cm  propagator with 13 hours operating time. When you have sun on your windows you have to shade. Young seedlings burn very fast.
The "soil" I use is sifted "bims" but any pure mineral sifted material with a low pH reaction can be used. Never the standard soils from the shop with a lot of  half composted organic material because this attracts the Sciara flies and it upholds water to much. The material is first sifted dry on 3 mm and the fines are sifted again but this time with water on 1 mm.
The water I use is low pH rain water boiled and screened on a coffee filter. The first water to moisten the pots just after sowing  is enriched with a 25%  recommending dosage of a low Nitrogen fertilizer which includes all trace elements.
The best temperature for germination is 15 to 20 C  during daytime and somewhat less during the night. After some weeks the day temperature can be raised to 25 C with help of bottom heat but they do grow well with 20 C

A descripton

        what do you need:


To start with, all the material has to be sterilized. Propagator and pots can be washed with hot water with son "toilet cleaner"(Chlorine).  I heat the growing medium in an oven at 200 C for an hour. Others use a Magnetron. Next we fill the pots with the medium up to a few mm from the rim and "half" the pots with the plastic strips. To avoid material loss from the drainage holes I us a little bit of coco peat.
After this we sow the seeds on the surface of the medium.  Do not sow the same species next to each other. The risk of mixing the species is an ever present danger. I use a folded Post-It to spread the seeds as even as possible. I empty the seeds first on a deep white soup plate. After that I scoop the seeds on the growing medium. After sowing I only tap the pot one time. There is no covering of the seeds.

When all the seeds are sown we put the pots in the boiled water (with the fertilizer until the pots are fully saturated with the water. After that I spray a little bit of water on the top (careful not to mix the seeds), the reason for this is to improve the contact between the seed and the growing medium. Now we close the propagator and put it on the desired location,

zaaien1  seed scoop

How to continue

Because the propagator is almost closed there will be almost no evaporating. We do not have to water during the first 2 weeks. After 5 days the first plants will show themselves and after 10 days we start to ventilate. I start with a matchbox under the lid on the long side. In about 3 weeks I open up the propagator totally to avoid fungi.


27 dagen91


24 days after sowing90 days after sowing200 days after sowing

As from now we have to start watering. The first weeks we spray every morning when we see that the topsoil is dried out. After 6 weeks we can reduce watering and only water when the total soil is almost dry. I check this by weighing the pots in my hand but we can also see some shrivelling of the plants when they need water. 8 weeks I give an extra fertilizer shot like we did just after sowing. Up to now I continue to use boiled rainwater.
After 3 months the first seedling start to show off their first real leaves and from now on it is very exciting to see the differences. As from now I do not spry any more but water from below.
After 6 months (Mid April) the plants go to the greenhouse in full sum with 25% shading. At the end of the season (October) I stop watering. The plants must be now big enough to survive

What can go wrong?

Other species of mesembs

I have used this method for all other summer growing mesembs like Dinteranthus/Argyroderma/Faucaria/Pleiospilos. I have no experience with the winter growers