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Lithops optica (Living Stones)

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Scientific Name

Lithops optica (Marloth) N. E. Br.

Common Names

Living Stones

Scientific Classification

Family: Aizoaceae
Subfamily: Ruschioideae
Tribe: Ruschieae
Genus: Lithops

Description

Lithops optica is a succulent with obconical to almost club-shaped pairs of opposite leaves that are up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. The stem is very short and not visible. Leaves are with a smooth texture, whitish-grey to grey-green with transparent windows at their tops. Each leaf pair will produce a solitary, daisy-like flower that is bright white, sometimes with pink tips and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.

Photo via cactiguide.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Lithops develop a new set of leaves every year, with new leaves emerging in the fall and growing through the winter and into the summer. In late summer, the plant will go dormant and water should be severely restricted to prevent bursting leaves. The flowers appear near the end of summer or fall, first showing up as a small bud forcing its way between the leaves and growth will begin again. It's safe to water during this period. Heading into the winter, the leaves will still be growing, but you should stop watering, even as the older leaves shrivel up and encase the new growth. In the spring, it's safe to begin lightly watering again as the plant begins to grow again, heading toward their summer dormancy period and the emergence of new leaves in the fall.

Lithops are very slow-growing, small plants, which makes them ideal as houseplants (once you get the hang of their watering schedule). Older plants form attractive clumps of "pebbles" in their pots, which are highly prized. In general, plants should only be repotted if there are cultural problems (soggy soil) or the plant has outgrown its dish container, which will only happen every several years… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Lithops

Origin

Endemic to Namibia.

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