Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Sleeping Kingdom (7 pics)

I don't have many winter growers and most of them are conophytums. Having had them for 3 years now I'm clearly not an expert. But in terms of seasonal watering schedule they seem to indicate what they want much better than lithops. Or rather they just insist upon doing what needs to be done in a way lithops often can't manage. Of course my observations are just that and I don't have that many plants to say they are all like this but let me try to explain what I've seen so far.

You know how lithops just go into stasis and completely shut down during a heatwave? You think that would be a great time to catch up on some quality growth with lots of sun and water but they just won't accept it. They stay wrinkly as if thirsty. But the difference is that instead of going soft they become hard as stones. And no amount of water brings them out of it until the heat is over. This indication of "leave me alone" is really great and helps the grower. Unfortunately they don't do the same during the important phase of regeneration, mainly because it IS the time of active growth. It just happens invisibly. And so if watered in winter they will just keep expanding until they rot. Would be nice if they just shut down then as well and didn't accept waterings.

Luckily for conophytums, the period of stasis and the period of absorption of old leaves overlap. And so when conos refuse water it happens at a strategically important time. This makes things easier. My plants looks like this at the moment and will stay this way until late August.

The thing is, young cono seedlings are doing it, too, it appears. I am currently having my first experience with them. My seedlings are 1 year old and very small. That's why I'd like them to continue growing and gain more weight before they start going into sheaths for half a year. You know, with lithops, the first couple of years they regenerate whenever and if you keep watering they will keep growing. I thought cono seedlings would do the same but no, they went to sleep timely with the others. I kept watering but they just stopped accepting it. Now I kinda gave up and am letting them go to sleep in a hope they will eventually wake up. I have my doubts about that... We'll see.

The young Oophytum nanum seedlings are doing the same, by the way. I see the green shining through but the plants are completely inactive. I don't think they have enough resources to go through with it though. They are still very young.


  1. Hi Rika, do you by chance know how to split conophytum bilobum? I have 2 pots of them which are getting pretty leggy & crowded. Apparently their cuttings are easy to root, but I never try it myself & am a bit nervous of killing them. Thanks

    1. Hi Rose,

      I don't believe cuttings of conophytums are easy. So far every cutting I ever done has died. I would suggest that if you need to divide your plants make sure each part has roots. Rootless cuttings are difficult and, for me, they never survive.
      I think being leggy is normal for older plants. Making them into cuttings might not necessarily help with that...

  2. Hi Rika,

    Do you have any pictures you can share of lithops being in stasis? I think it could even be a really helpful blog post, if you had the time of course. Or, I could email you :)
    I think a few of mine are in stasis but this is only my 2nd year around lithops so I have no idea what the do's and don't are... I'm not even really sure that they ARE in stasis... They are just very very wrinkly.. almost shriveled...? Not mushy though! I hope I didn't just kill them with the watering I gave them. I repotted them a few days ago into pure pumice and just gave them a large drink yesterday... any tips for me when dealing with lithops in stasis?


    1. Hi Christina! I'll check if I can find some photos but the looks are just a bit wrinkly and hard instead of soft.

      Is it spring where you are? Can I understand that your plants have fully regenerated after the winter and the wrinkles are on their new leaves?

      If yes and you have just transplanted them and watered them for the first time after winter it will take them 1-2 weeks to react to that. During the several months of regeneration the roots are completely dry. Once you water for the first time they will start to regrow them and only then the plants will start plumping up. It can take a couple of weeks. In a couple of weeks, when the pumice is dry again you can water them again and see if they'll react then. At this time of the year they are not in stasis. They have just not woken up yet maybe. Your recent watering will wake them and you will see changes in a couple of weeks.

      Hope this helps :)

    2. Hi Rika! :)

      Your advice is so helpful. It's indeed spring here, but since I am in California it often feels like summer lol! I have a few that are wrinkly and hard. The others are just a bit wrinkly but still juicy, if that makes sense.

      They all finished regenerating, except for 2 of them. One of the two has done nothing for the year that I've had it and the other I bought just a few months ago so I can't be sure when it regenerated, but I do see dried remains at the base.
      I'm wondering now, that if they are not in stasis, maybe I've watered them too late into spring? Maybe that's why they are so wrinkled...


    3. Hi Christina :)

      Well, here it still feels like winter most of the time so I can't really advise you on your climate. I can tell you that if lithops get wrinkly between waterings it's all good and normal. That's how it is supposed to be. I assume when you transplanted them recently you have checked the roots and there were no bugs that would prevent the plants from absorbing water. So that's fine too. From your description I do not see anything wrong with your lithops under the conditions they have. Maybe it is indeed too hot and that is why some of them are "resting". Just watch them closely and they'll be fine.

      If they are not in stasis and the roots are fine they will react to water and plump up within several days and the wrinkles will be removed from their sides.

    4. Thank you Rika! I'm feeling more at ease now. No bugs that I could see.
      I've my fair share of lithops but this is the longest they've been alive lol!! I would hate to lose them now.