Propagation of 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
plant can be treated as the rest.
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.
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.
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.
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
what do you need:
- a propagator with a cover
- 5 cm square pots or 6 cm round pots
strips make two compartments in the pots
- boiled rainwater with a low dosage of Nitrogen-low fertilizer
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,
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.
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?
- Fungi: Source of the fungi is in most cases the
contamination of the seeds with seed debris. When the seeds are on the
soup plate you have to make sure to get rid of most of this contamination.
Careful checking on a daily basis and the removal of all visible fungi in
the seed containers can avoid a lot of problems. I do not use any
fungicides because I have no good experience with young lithops seedlings
and fungicide, Very important is to start ventilate as soon as
possible and to let the surface dry off as soon as possible after
- Sun: 1 hour of direct sun in the middle of the
day can change your beautiful seedlings it mushy little white corpses.
- Too much water followed by rot: Allow the soil to
dry of after 6 weeks.
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
- My LED-lamps:
- Buying seed: The best source is Mesa Garden
in the USA (http://www.mesagarden.com/m2015.html). They have an enormous
amount of species and they are reliable. In Europe Uwe Beyer (http://www.conos-paradise.com/en/genus/lithops/)
is a very good supplier. Ebay is a hit and miss experiment and could
better be avoided.
- The "soil“ I use can be
purchased here http://www.vulkatec-onlineshop.de/Dachbegruenung/Bims/530000009.html