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Thread: Lithops - third try

  1. #1
    Got Drosera? Indiana Gardener's Avatar
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    Lithops - third try

    I saw a small pot of Lithops at Lowes today and couldn't pass up a pot of two for a couple bucks.

    I've had a two other sets before about 10+ yrs ago. I managed to keep one for a yr or better and it actually bloomed for me.

    Where I always seem to go wrong is winter care and watering.

    These are growing in peat moss and perlite. Shouldn't a desert plant be in coarse sand or something of that nature?

    Should they be kept warm yr round, or slightly cooler in the winter. I am thinking the latter?

    Also, it's in a plastic pot. Would a terra cotta pot be better for soil breathing, or not necessary?

    Any pointers at all would be great and well appreciated. I really do not want to fail again.
    Thanks!

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    mark.ca's Avatar
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    It looks to me that you already know the answers!
    I used to get them out of the pots and too enriched soil they would come in and place them in a sandy mix in a clay pot...or terra cotta/ceramic ungaized...whatever!
    Outside (in a temperate climate) when over 1C (34F) at nite and watering 1-2 time a week (the soil has to dry out between waterings). Inside during winter (or when overnite temps are under 1C) in low levels of light and low temps (1-7C) with watering only if the plants are getting too weak. If you need to water during winter you can do so but you have to dry the pot out in a day or 2 or the plant will rot. I can give you more info if interested.
    Best regards,
    Marius

    My Website: http://droseragemmae.com/

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    Got Drosera? Indiana Gardener's Avatar
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    >It looks to me that you already know the answers!>

    I just have trouble actually doing it... (soil recipe, etc)

    You mentioned 7C (44F) for the winter. I have a bird room in the barn that is heated to 12C (55F) in the winter. Would that be too warm? I could put a full spectrum compact florescent just a few inches above it for light if that would work?

    >you have to dry the pot out in a day or 2 or the plant will rot.>

    I am thinking perlite and chicken grit?



    Two different stages of growth? One's old leaves are already dried up and the other is not as far along. They only had a few pots of them and one in each pot had some kind of a blemish. They were callused and seem to be healed over. So I got the ones with only one small spot on one leaf.

    >I can give you more info if interested.>

    Yes, please!

    Thank you!

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    swords's Avatar
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    hey Indy,
    I would seperate them into thier own pots so you can water the one with the dry skin and dry the one with the fleshy skin sweater. Lets see the tops and try to figure out what species you've got, I don't have any white/pink ones. When you repot plant them about 1/2 their depth and top dress the rest of the way up to their "cracK" or cleft. When you unpot these you'll see they are very highly potted. this is because lithops will stand up when full of water and pull down into the soil when dry. They can only "move" in one direction in peat up and eventually out! In a gravel mix they will move up and down (contractile roots) as they display to you their watering needs. Shriveled and pulled down into the gravel they are dry standing up and well above the gravel they are generally fat with water and happy.

    The skin blemishes are usually caused by overwateriing and splitting the skins. This is not always fatal but it always marrs the surface, thankfully only until the new skin emerges. Next winter/spring the new skin if kept from overwatering or being wet in bright sun will be picture perfect most of the year.

    I always repot because the rich soils the nurseries can grow these in always rot the plants off at the soil line before long.

    If you can use Shultz aquatic plant soil or NAPA Floor Dry in place of the Perlite you'll have a mineral mix that holds more moisture as well as air. Perlite has surface area to hold water but doesn't absorb water into the interior of itself as the open pore structure of Napa or fired clay does so perlite pots are always very dry (a bit too much so). Kitty litter is not fired at a high enough temperature to ensure it won't revert to clay but I've heard rumors that the red bag of Special Kitty at Walmart is OK to use, I've not tried it though so I can't vouch one way or other. Napa is my fave but you do need to put pea gravel or chicken grit (cherrystone) to give it some weight to hold a plant down.

    I overwinter my plants inside under bright lights with an air duct pulling air from outside the window onto the plant shelf. Iset my timer to whatever light schedule the sun is at, 8 hrs mid winter and 16 hours mid summer. They still bloom and absorb the old skins. Just don't dump water on them if they are dormant or fat. Lithops are actively growing in day temps of 70-85*F and nights of 50-60*F basically spring & fall outdoors or in CP terms "highland nep conditions" (just low humidity). Colder or hotter than this and they go to sleep and only need water if they wrinkle. In fact I only water my Lithops and other succulents when they show signs of wrinkling whatever time of year it is. This way it's hard to overwater, it's hard to kill with too little water (for most) but easy to melt down a favorite plant with a bit of extra "attention".

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    Got Drosera? Indiana Gardener's Avatar
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    Thanks, swords! I am planning to repot later this evening. I already have floor dry from NAPA. Just have to gather a couple small pots.

    Here is the view from the top. My theory is two different species.



    Edit... So much for potting this evening. I do not have any NAPA floor dry as I thought. It was bought at NAPA, but is some other brand, starts with an M... I forgot it already. Anyway, it just crumbles to mush when wet.

    I found it on the NAPA web site, but no price listed. One place online said it's $7 for 25 Lbs. By the time I buy the pots and floor dry, I'd have $10 in two tiny plants, which just seems outrageous. (and there's other places my $ has to go) A two buck plant is getting expensive. I still have my receipt and they're going back. I just didn't expect it to be such an expense with an initial cost of only $2.58. Thanks for the info anyway.

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    mark.ca's Avatar
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    Sand and garden soil or peat and some used cups should not be that expensive. I haven't seen any NAPA in my many trips to the desert ...maybe they don't need it. (i know this may sound unbelievable).....seriously man, just try it! They don't care much about soil and they are not expensive to keep at all.
    Swords, during winter they don't need much light at all. A north cold window will do. Many growers i know are putting them in their basements near windows and forget about them til spring.
    I used to have them in a glass closed balcony with no heating so the temps would go to that mentioned range and place them on shelves away from the windows and the direct sun. THEY DO NOT GROW DURING THIS TIME so the low light is more than enough for their slow metabolism...this and the low temps may also help them not to loose their body water too fast.
    Best regards,
    Marius

    My Website: http://droseragemmae.com/

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    swords's Avatar
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    I'll say it again Mark if your plants don't rot with plain old garden soil & sand then that's what YOU can grow them in due to your environmental conditions. For me, in MN they rot off at the soil line and I'm done throwing my money away by killing plants needlessly when all I have to do is change my growing media to be successful. I have "just tried it" by leaving them potted as they come or repotting with 50/50 peat & perlite (we only have play sand is available here which makes soil into a compact mud). The results are the same however, dead, jellied/melted succulent plants. Hence the mineral mix. I'm doing what works for me.

    In CA you'd likely be chasing the pots daily with water using my mix, I understand that because I've had this argument with one of my succulent dealers from CA who always send his stuff potted. I tell him not to bother since his soil mix rots them here. He didn't believe me so I sent him a rotted Lithops in his soil mix of "super soil & pumice" just to prove it to him the last time one of his Lithops died that I didn't repot. Don't make me send you a rotten Lithops!

    If Indy can grow them in essentially "sundew mix" as you suggest he has every right to go ahead try. I won't be offended if he succeeds but it won't change my habits cos I can't grow succulents in a bog soil mix. I only suggest what works for me in my experience. As far as keeping them in low light perhaps that is fine, if it is go for it! However I want to put them with my other plants so I can see them and enjoy them and also not forget to water them when they get wrinkly. Cos outta sight outta mind and you can dehydrate them to death even in dormancy, I've done it with one of my Conophytums.

    Many African succulents naturally grow in minerals (quartz sand, grit, etc.) and not rich black garden soil so it's not completely insane to pot them in a mineral mix. Napa is just expanded diatomaceous earth underneath the snazzy name.

    As far as Napa being "expensive" I am using it in place of sand or perlite in my CP mixes with peat, mixed with coir to grow my Dorstenias and for rooting my bonsai cuttings. Since it can get used all over the garden it's no pricier than perlite. You get a huge bag for $7.30 as it weighs about the same as perlite but holds a lot more water than perlite when you wet it.

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    mark.ca's Avatar
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    Yes, and you should stick to that if it works for you! I was just presenting a method that works, it's cheaper and it's really popular in Europe...NOT MY METHOD but the one i used for years with great succes. On the soil...i did say before that a sandy mix should be used meaning that sand is at least 2:1 ...and don't forget about the clay pot. Try it...you might be surprised how well it can work. The peat i was using sometimes was not the one used with CP's and clay loam was one fo the other options.
    Ok ...i'm done giving advice on these plants. I stoped growing them more than 10 years ago (i just keep one for fan) and maybe better stuff was found for them or better growing methods.
    Best regards,
    Marius

    My Website: http://droseragemmae.com/

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