Archivo de la etiqueta: Lithops

First Year

salicola II 1
Lithops salicola
.   August,  2014.  The big one  is 23 x 17 mm.  Just got their first watering.
Salicola 2
The same plants one month later. The big one is 25 x 18 mm.
first year salicola 3
After Three months, in november, after heavy rainfalls and the first colder nights. Still no buds to see, so I think this year there won’t be any flowers. The tiny seedlings are runaways from a nearby Anacampseros namaquensis.
first year 4 salicola
Colder nights and rain has done it, the first flower opened in mid december. That is late, but due to the unusual high night temperatures we had this autumn. The flower is quite big, so I’m expecting a wonderful blooming next year.

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Sowing Lithops in Summer

sowing in summer 1The substrate is prepared. 80% volcanic lapilli, bigger chunks in the bottom and finer graduation towards the top, mixed with coconut fibres and a bit of fine silicate sand.  Most of the organic part in the upper 5 cm.
The planter is 39x17x14cm, big enough for a few Lithops and hopefully two to three years of happy growing. There are some evident advantages using a planter versus a single pot. They are easier to care after, they keep the moisture a bit longer – which is good for seedlings – and they save space.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs most of you will have recognised the seeds  are from Cono’s Paradise. There are plenty of seeds in every seed package, I’ll just use a part of them for this summer enterprise. Germinating Lithops is generally  very rewarding, Lithops seeds hatch in nearly every substrate, organic, mineral, cotton, paper, petri dish… older seed is said to have a higher rate than recently harvested seeds. There is some difference in size between different species of Lithops, but as a rule most of good quality seed will hatch in a few days. Be careful when sowing, if you want to avoid crowding and don’t cover the seed.

summer sowing 3Sow the seed  with the help of a toothpick upon the wet surface of the substrate. Just trickle a few seeds out of the seed package into a china cup, and with the wettened tip of a wooden toothpick you just pick one seed after the other and place them gently and evenly spaced – well, more or less – on the surface of the substrate. It is easy, believe me: I’ve done so with 19 seeds of each of the 16 Lithops species I’ve sown. It took a little bit more than half an hour.  This little effort in the beginning will be rewarding in the future. Spray gently after sowing and cover with a plastic wrapper.

Summer 4Identify each row with the Cole Number or the full name of your Lithops seeds, date of sowing (the more information you may want to add, the better) and add some long but narrow plastic stripes (say from a bottle) as separators, preferably bevor sowing. The plastic stripes will also prevent the plastic wrapper, which will soon get wet from inside, to lay down on the substrate and suffocate the freshly hatched plantlets.
Place the wrapped box out of sun in a bright place.
If you are lucky, in two to three days you may see something.

summer sowing 5The temperatures I have to deal with now – and I want to sow now – are 28º/22ºC. There has been written a lot about the pros and cons of higher or lower tº when sowing Lithops; I’m not going to add.
The only viable alternative would be waiting until next winter. And this doesn’t help fighting the Lithops addiction, does it?

summer sowing 6Yesterday, three days after sowing, the first movement was there to see, today there are seventeen little new Lithops at home!  They deserve to be named, for being the speediest:
Eight Lithops karasmontana;
Two Lithops bromfieldii mennellii; the first one to be photographed!
Three Lithops otzeniana;
Two Lithops aucampiae koelemanii; and
one Lithops schwantesii and L. olivacea nebrownii .

Summer sowing 7August, 5th.  50 Lithops hatched meanwhile.  Nearly all species sown have germinated and,  strange enough, the Lithops with the biggest seeds – C204 Lithops lesliei rubrobrunnea –  still don’t.  The little one in the image – Lithops aucampiae koelemanii – shows what I like seedlings to look like: a short body, a long root and already a bit of colour. With real bright light Lithops grow like this. Etiolated seedlings are prone to diseases.

summer sowing 8Still August 5th, by the afternoon 66 seeds have germinated already – C204 still not there! – and I water again. With a gentle spray you can water as much and as often as you like, this type of substrate will never be waterlogged and soggy. Excess of water just pours out. Spraying once or twice a day keeps the seed wet. The seed clings firmly to the surface of the susbstrate and once sprouted, the empty ‘shell’ will keep securely attached to most of the young cotyledons for many weeks: I’ve never found the seed being washed away, even the tiniest stay in place.
Never forget to protect the planter again with plastic wrapper.

summer sowing 9August, 8th.  Seven days after sowing 100 seedings gather in the planter, which is roughly one third of all seeds sown. Only one species, Lithops lesliei rubrobrunnea shows no growing at all. Big  seeds are just big seeds. There is no need to hurry. The image shows Lithops aucampiae C256, already ‘big’ and flat, which becomes evident in comparison to the next photograph.
There have been losses as well. Just a few minutes, a cloud moving and sun heating the little space between plastic wrapper and substrate surface is all it needs for a quick damping off: the seedlings are simply cooked. This way I have already lost 15 little Lithops. Sorry guys.  I promise to take care, hoovering a bit more on cloudy days. Never trust the summer sun. Nor the summer clouds.

summer sowing 10Extremely diminute, Lithops villettii deboerii C231, this species seems vigorous and strong and is, together with the two karasmontana, one of the best in terms of germination rate.
Definitedly, the first week after sowing Lithops in summer proofs that sowing Lithops in summer, is perfectly possible. And a good way to fight addiction: two days unattended and I lost them all.

Yes, I knew.  It’s better at my place to sow in autumn and winter. Been there, done so. Never going to bump into it again.

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out of focus

schwantesii 1

schwantesii 2 I’ve never been particularly taken by Lithops schwantesii. Until yesterday. What pretty little critters they are!  Though most photographs of Lithops schwantesii look rather dull and some even not in focus, this plant is one half of a rainbow.  Admittedly, you’ll have to take a close look and you won’t get a sharp shot at the first try, like you are used to when photographing other Lithops species. The pics will all look rather misty, unfocused. Until you scale up and see how this inconspicuous plant has fooled you and the camera as well. schwantesii 3

out of focus 4 Summer has been hot an dry for my newcomers, as I don’t want them to succumb after a first and early watering. So now, in mid september, my schwantesii looks a bit more wrinkled. schwantesii 5

out of focus As for december 2014, L. schwantesii looks pretty the same, turgent and healthy. There will be a last watering and then a three months drought. out of focus 7: schwantesii Only two weeks later, the fissure has opened to the wide and deep gap characteristic of L. schwantesii. The body measures now 32 x 21mm and the fissure reaches up to 14mm. There will be no more water until march – the hardest challenge for a gardener.

Lithops schwantesii 8
March 2015: two heads appear. The old leaves still present, turgent and apparently fine.

Prolific growers

hookeri subfenestrata brunneoviolacea  2º pair of leavesThis particular Lithops hookeri var subfenestrata ‘brunneoviolacea’ is the first of all Lithops species sown in November 2013 to change into the second pair of true leaves. From first to the second pair of leaves it took only two months. First sign was the fissure beginning to open to the slot which still can be seen in the old pair of fusioned leaves. In the end the new body didn’t emerge through this gap,  but ripped open the old leaves laterally. They now spend shadow to the new, like a juicy beret.

Lithops hookeri 2Three weeks later the beret is still there.

hookeri 3
14 months old, February: all L. hookeri are changing clothes. As far as I can tell, the fissures are complete now – but there are still a few where the old leaves cover the new ones.

hookeri 4
Strong colours, all of a strange maroon palette. Strange but appealing. The markings also get stronger now. And one characteristic disappeared: no made-up lips any more! The fissure looks thin, dark and sober now.

Distinctive faces

Lithops otzeniana 1
Only four Lithops otzeniana have sprouted so far. After changing from cotyledon to the first true pair of leaves, which they did like most other Lithops in their third and fourth month of living, they look like otzeniana does, greenish, with a dark glassy window and very clearly marked islands and peninsulas. You can easily tell them apart, for each one has quite different markings.
Lithops otzeniana 2
Three of them kept their cotyledons turgent and active even after the hatch. This one still has it – for nearly nine weeks now.
otzeniana 3
Keeping company with L. hookeri. They are clearly distinctive in colour and patterns. This mask is near to perfection:
L. otzeniana mask 3
Three weeks later, I’m sure they’ve grown. Obviously I’m biased.
otzeniana 5

otzeniana distinctive fces 6
Among their fellows, Lithops hookeri brunneoviolacea. This photograph was taken mid september; Lithops otzeniana doesn’t look green any more.
distinctive faces 7
One year old now, their first birthday shows already wrinkles and aging – time for lessening water and preparing the next pair of leaves.

red

ImagenLithops karasmontana ‘Top Red’

red 2Now, in mid-summer, one of them is changing clothes. Wants to grow, I suppose. red 3A few days later it is almost there.  The looks are completely different, no white shoulders, and new dark rubrications. I like this little keel which marks the middle of the leaves’ underside.
But, unfortunately,red 4there seems to live a little critter in the same pot who thinks young Lithops are tasty. I’ll try to find him with a green grape as bait.

 

 

Green

Imagen

Lithops helmutii, the last adition to my slow growing collection of stones has been watered for the first time. Whatchful during the next week – as plants without stalks and leaf lamina  don’t show signs of feeling unhappy so easily. And Lithops are prone to rot in the first weeks, first watering, first summer …

Lithops helmutii 2Fingers crossed – but: they enjoyed the water. All are visibly growing,  stretching up to more light, for they were buried with their faces in line with the soil top.  I still don’t dare to give them full sun, for the little bodies move when touched with a paintbrush. That means they  don’t have much new roots and are still not settled in, their new surrounding is not theirs up to now.

Lithops helmutii 3Lithops helmutii 4Nice to see how they change colours. More shadow and humidity make them grow green – more sun and dry conditions make them change into a yellowish tawny display. And one of the sixpack has a rosy hue …

helmutii green 5At a first glimpse you can tell they have grown – not only by the height they all have gained, but by how strong they stick in the substrate. One of my main tools is a brush. I’ve found it makes a very useful tool for many things, and one of them is to tell me if a newly planted Lithops has already rooted or not. This crowd  has, they don’t wiggle the slightest.

helmutiiNow in august and september it’s getting really hot. The pots sit in some more shade, but the first morning hours still come with plenty of sunlight so I chose to sieve some substrate-rests on top of many of my Lithops-pots. With wind that mostly light organic dirt will blow away, but until then the bodies are bit more buried. Well, with helmutii this doesn’t work as well as with salicola, but at least they get a bit protection at the neck.
helmutii green 7The tawny colour they had inbetween has completely disappeared. The predominant colour is green now, marbled green.  Helmutii shows to be a fairly strong grower. The biggest is now 2,8cm high, and 2,3 x 1,2 cm wide.helmutii green 8
Lithops helmutii 9: moulting
January 2015; slowly the leaves of L. helmutii shrivel, they look awfully now. The temptation to water now is big, as they look so in need of care. In the gap there is already a little phoenix arising: two new, shiny, turgent and green leaves.

Lithops helmutii 10
The new body at soil level.

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New Bighead

ImagenFour flowers and five new heads. Lithops lesliei ‘albinica’ is a slow growing Lithops. It might be because of the seed capsules, but they look real tiny, don’t know if there will be any viable seed.

I bought this  clump while  in flower  several month ago and always thought it to be four plants tightly grown together in a little pot – a reason I usually do not like to buy plants in large shopping centres is that plants there are handled as disposable articles – and after flowering I planted it just as it came out of the pot in a big planter outside. Lithops lesliei does well with our winter rain regime, but it came clear, that it would not be a good idea to place other Lithops species near to it.

It survived the bill of a blackbird, heavy rainfall and a lot of neglect. Now I decided it was time to plant it back to a new pot, like most of the other Lithops have, and to remove the old substrate, plain peat.

lesliei 2I planned to plant two pots, but to my big surprise, there weren’t four plants, but just one: a five-headed, well grown Lithops lesliei ‘albinica’! Now I understand why the seedpods are empty of seeds and if I ever want seeds from this nice cultivar, I should try  to get a second one!

lesliei 3After cleaning  most of the peat, I planted the new ‘star of the collection’  into its new home. Suddenly with much more esteem, the sales plant turned out to be the worthiest of all.

Lesliei 4

A su bola

Third pair of leaves rubra 1Lithops optica ‘Rubra’, as always, doing their own thing. They should be growing big now, loosing their old pair of leaves, preparing for a hot and sunny summer.   But they don’t.   As we say over here,  “van a su bola”. third leaves both headsBoth heads are preparing for their third pair of leaves. The plant grows outside, in the sun, getting sprinkled every other day and a thorough watering once a month – obviously enough – and not enough for an accompanying grass,  that dried a few weeks ago and a spontaneus  Anagallis-seedling, that just had enough moisture for one gorgeous blue flower and the seed capsule.

 

 

Playing with stones

lithops mennellii 1Few things compare to change stones and pebbles again and again – Lithops-scaping. Playful with Lithops bromfieldii var. mennellii, the new toy.Lithops-scaping with L. bromf. mennellii 1First impressions.

Lithops bromfieldii mennellii 4First thorough watering for these newcomers. Weather has been warm but not too sunny, so I think they have adapted to local climate meanwhile. More than one-year-old Lithops are watered once a month with a flush of water, able to wash away salt deposits. For this purpose the pot gets water over a period of a few hours, until you can tell the soil is wet everywhere. Then the pot is gently flooded until water pours out freely.  Inbetween the waterings all my Lithops get sprinkled every other day, like heavy dew, preferably  in the early evening. Watering is never done during a hot weather spell.

Lithops mennellii lossA few days later: Two of them are growing – you can tell they emerge from the soil. The third – the big one – is collapsing. Tissue collaps in Lithops is fulminant – nothing you can do. Sad loss – this little mennellii was really cute.

playing with stones 6
But this one isn’t bad either!

playing with stones 6
And the little one is still there, too.

playing with stones 7: Lithops bromfieldii mennellii
In march and april the bigger one goes through a strange moult: a regular new head, as it seems, and a little new head at one side.

playing with stones 8: Lithops bromfieldii mennellii
But a few weeks later it is obvious what happened: the plant produced a new pair of leaves and immediately a next growth of two heads.

Lithops – New arrivals

 Todo preparado para los nuevos inquilinos – Alles vorbereitet für die Neuzugänge – Ready to move in!ready to moveThey look so extremely tiny when they arrive.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce in their new place they don’t look frail any more.Lithops mennelli This little beauty is Lithops bromfieldii var. mennellii C283. All three share a square black 13×13 plastic pot now, their new home. I hope they’ll like it. new home for three mennelliimennellii medianomenellii pequeñomennellii grandeNow the first challenge will be to refrain from watering. They live outside,  in the shade. By the way, these plants are two years old.

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helmutii 1Take a close look! I proudly present six one year old Lithops helmutii C271.lithops helmutii plantadosI’ve already seen them in close-up. Beauties they are!Lithops helmutii recién plantado

So small is small!

rodde pimient small 2

There now is some evidence that a pea does not quite serve as a   rule for the size of Lithops seedlings. To big in most cases and far to much volumen in comparison to the body of a junior living stone.

Here comes the common peppercorn. Nearly 5 mm and only a quarter of the volume of a pea. That will make the difference.

so small is 2.1For obvious resaons – visibility and glamour – I cannot refrain from choosing the pink peppercorn as reference.

Lets see if it works:

L. hookeri C019 and a pink peppercornhookeri and pink pepperkornL. dinteri C206 and a pink peppercorndinteri  small 5L. hallii C119 and a pink peppercornhalli and pink 7L. fulviceps C266 and  the pink peppercornfulviceps and pink 8L. karasmontana ‘Top Red’ and a peppercornkaras and pink 9L. pseudotruncatella C068 and a pink peppercornpsuedo and pink 6What do you think? A peppercorn fits better, doesn’t it?

albinica and peppercornAt least for juvenile Lithops. L. lesliei ‘albinica’ and a pink peppercorn.
how small is ... conophytum 10

And it works for Conophytum as well. This C. violaciflorum just hatched in its first winter/rainy season.

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The first leaves in the life of different Lithops species – a comparison

Lithops generally are easy to germinate. Most seeds, if not to fresh, will sprout in a few days, and there will be germinations many weeks later, too.

The embryo quickly forms a body, consisting of the two cotyledons or seed leaves and a tiny tap root.

At this stage, all you see is very green and extremely frail. Two green tips and a fissure in the middle – one millimeter all in all.

green cotyledon

The fine gravel looks like big boulders but soon the young plant will be able to push its way up to more light and sun. The tiny plant  changes quickly into the caracteristic shape of its species – a flat cotyledon like e.g. in L. lesliei or L. aucampiae, or barrel-shaped as for instance in L. bromfieldii. One other characteristic is the length of the tiny fissure, where the two fused cotyledons leave a gap for the next pair of leaves to emerge – the first true pair of leaves of the young Lithops plant.

terricolor 200 1Terricolor 85d 200terri 108d 200

left: 39 days old; right: 85 days old; bottom: 108 days old

 Lithops terricolor ‘peersii’ C131 has an apple-shaped cotyledon with short fissure. The hatchling changes  into a loaf-of-bread-like  shape with a short fissure.

verruculosa 39dverruculosa 51dverruculosa 170d

left: 39 days old; right: 51 days old, bottom: 170 days old

Lithops verruculosa var. verruculosa C129 has little, reddish-grey, barrel-shaped cotyledons with long fissure and a distinct pair of first leaves . The fissure extends over the whole face, bordered with ruby-red verruculae.

pseudotruncatella 36 dayspseudotruncatella 47dpseudotruncaella 176d

left: 36days old; right: 47days old; bottom:176 days old

Lithops pseudotruncatella ‘alpina’ C068 quickly forms ruby red, tiny barrel-shaped bodies. The colour fades to a dull greenish brown just until the first true leaves appear. The little plant is 2 – 4 mm wide. Very short fissure, hardly visible.

otzeniana 39dotzeniana 86dotzeniana 170d

left: 39days old; right: 86 days old; bottom: 170days old

Lithops otzeniana C280 does not germinate as readily. The young cotyledon-bodies are green with a red hue and apple-shaped. The fissure runs through 3/4 of the surface. While the first pair of leaves appear, the cotyedons persist and split deeply. The fissure of the newly formed body runs from side to side.

lesliei maraisiilesliei maraisii 86dlesliei maraisii 103d

left: 14days old; right: 86 days old; bottom: 103 days old

 The cotyledons of Lithops lesliei ‘Maraisii’ C 153 form a flat elliptic body, shiny, grey with a lilac hue, and a small central fissure. The first true pair of leaves resemble the adult Lithops and have a short, reddish fissure.

julii brunnea 39djulii brunnea 98djulii brunnea 138d

left: 39days old; right: 98 days old; bottom: 138 days old

Lithops julii brunnea C179 has green or dull coloured, barrel-shaped bodies,  with a long fissure that nearly runs from side to side. The emerging Lithops looks like the adult and has a complete fissure.

hookeri subfenestrata brunneoviolaceaHookeri subfenestrata brunneociolacea

left: 126 days old; right: 175 days old

Lithops hookeri var. subfenestrata ‘brunneoviolacea’ C019 makes fairly big, flat-topped, barrel-shaped cotyledons, reddish and dark, with short fissures. Just before hatching the cotyledons fade to a dull beige. The emerging colourful body is flat,  with a short fissure that sometimes runs over half or more of the surface.

hallii hallii 86 dayshallii hallii 138 days

left: 86 days old; right: 138 days old

Medium dark grey cotyledons are characteristic of Lithops hallii C119, shiny and flat, with a strong and long fissure over rhe whole face of the body. The first true leaves display a new colour, and a complete fissure.

julii fulleriJulii fulleri 170 days

left: 39 days old; right: 170 days old

A very distinct first pair of leaves emerge from small and inconspicuous cotyledons.  The cotyledons of Lithops julii var. fulleri C162A are round and dull coloured, the fissure is long. The new body formed by the two true leaves rises high above the slowly drying cotyledon, with a complete fissure and the fully visible grey conus of the typical Lithops. These plants have recieved the same amount of light and sun as all those previously shown!

aumpiae cotyaucampiae hatchling

both plants are 175 days old!

Lithops aucampiae C333 do their own thing. While some hatch and grow, others still await looking at the outside world. Flat, shiny cotyledons, barrel-shaped with a distinct concave face with a rim, grey or reddish, always dark, short fissure. The new pair of leaves form a nearly round, textured body, with a short fissure.

L. lesliei lesliei 'luteoviridis'Lesliei luteoviridis 173d

left: 86days old; right: 173 days old

Lithops lesliei lesliei ‘luteoviridis’  has flat, elliptic, rimmed cotyledons. The fissure is half the length of the smaller diameter. The first leaves look like a small Lithops luteoviridis; with a short fissure, as in all lesliei- seedlings I’ve seen.