Sunday, May 31, 2015

Small plants (5 pics)

I'm fond of small plants. I guess that's why I'm growing lithops. But also among lithops I like the smaller, more compact plants and, in truth, the smaller the plant the easier it is to care for it under windowsill conditions. I'm often using the word "downsizing" with the meaning of letting or making the plant reduce its size to the manageable minimum. And I don't have in mind an unhealthy shrinking and slowly withering. A small plant can be fit and healthy and strong. It can be grown to be small from seed or, with a little bit of luck and patience, made small by strict watering and poor substrate. Not all plants can go from fat to slim (fat plants tend to die during regeneration before they get a chance to downsize) but those that can will thank you with more intense color and sharper pattern.

I've had success with these L. lesliei and L. hookeri in this regard. Over the course of about 2 years they went from bloated to flat and tiny and now don't have any troubles regenerating like it was the case at the beginning. With the Albinicas below I had serious doubts they will make it at all. The plant heads on the pictures go from 7mm to 15mm in size.

I'm not a friend of L. julii or karasmontana but I found out that I can only grow them if they are kept small.


  1. Beautiful Lithops. It would be fascinating to see what you could do with a greenhouse.
    I understand your reasoning for "downsizing" but in terms of cultivation changes, how do you do it? In general you already fertilize very little, if any, and your potting media is pumice ( I don't remember you adding anything to the pumice which means there's nothing to take away to encourage plants to grow smaller). It would seem the only three environmental conditions you then have to work with are water, light, and temperature. I guess I don't understand what you are manipulating to "downsize".

    I really like your L. hookeri plants above. I've stopped growing L. hookeri because of all the lithops they cause me the most problems with their regeneration. I grew tired of watching them hold on to their old leaves well into the summer. But, your beautiful hookeri plants make me want to grow them again.

    1. Thank you for your comment as always Bob :)

      The downsizing method is basically just what you described PLUS time. The most tangible reduction in size happens during the regeneration. Provided the plant doesn't choke on it's old leaves which happens often with very overfed plants. What I do with the plants I wish to downsize (and it is mostly for the sake of their survival as really big plants don't live long on my windowsill, and secondary for the looks) is:
      Watering>> I water very little and let them get wrinkled. This already makes them smaller and by the time the regeneration comes they won't have to eat through all the old flesh to "get out". Consequently the new leaves will be smaller as there's not much to feed on.
      Fertilizer>> I refrain from it completely in case of such plants. In fact I think I haven't fertilized any of my plants for at least a year now... This reminds me to do it as some of them could use a little food XD
      Soil>> Pure pumice, no supplements. If a plant is already small it won't grow larger. The plants I have since years all keep their size at the same rate. I met a German grower in Essen last year and all his plants were tiny. This is my ideal and goal for the future.
      Light and temperature>> I only work with what I have, for which I don't have any influence. Light comes from the window, temperature from the light or normal room heating in winter. I do not use any special heaters or artificial lights at all.

      Yes, same here, exactly! I've always had problems with L.hookeri until I realized that I can only keep them alive and happy if they're small. All those plants that could reduce their size successfully are doing fine now. I have never tried growing them from seed but I imagine it might be the same as with L. aucampiae. I can not grow aucampiae I buy elsewhere because they are always too big and the downsizing process is very difficult. My own seedlings however stay small and don't cause any problems. The hookeri you see on the photo have regenerated beautifully but only because there was not much flesh for them to deal with. Smaller plants have it easier.

      Now I'm working on downsizing L. julii (they can get big in greenhouses) and karasmontana (rather than being big they easily get long and have the same regeneration problems as big plants), but both species are touchy and it's tough... I could never keep them alive but my recent success in keeping small julii alive as well as own karasmontana seedlings lead me to the same conclusion: I can have both but only if I keep them small.
      I understand that they might never flower but the beauty of lithops is not only in that :) I can at least have my joy seeing their pretty faces :)

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  2. I have also found that my smaller Lithops have done better overall than the larger ones. I wonder why?

    1. With lithops the period of regeneration is the most critical in their lives. That's why we have losses every year after the winter. Smaller plants regenerate faster and easier (less flesh to dry) and do better in the end :) It might be different in a greenhouse but that's how it is on our windowsills.

  3. So colorful Lithops . I like to see it all. thanks for posting this

  4. Honestly I am hearing this for the first time. Really looking good. Where can I get it from?