Looking for a weird and wonderful houseplant that will intrigue children (and adults too)? Then look no further, your search is over.
These strange looking stones are, in fact, leaves of a plant called Lithops, commonly referred to as “living stones”.
In their native South Africa, these plants live in places where it doesn’t rain for months. So their fleshy leaves store water to keep the plant alive during the dry periods. And it’s suspected that the stone-like appearance is a survival mechanism to avoid being eaten by thirsty, hungry animals.
The good news is that they thrive on a fair amount of neglect, making them perfect houseplants for children.
For best results try to mimic their natural conditions – hot, sunny and dry. So no north facing windowsills or steamy bathrooms. The plant on the right below has been living on a north facing windowsill for some time and has become elongated in its search for light – we’ll need to find it a sunnier home before it deteriorates further.
As far as watering is concerned, less is definitely more. In autumn new leaves emerge from the centre of each “stone” and the old leaves gradually wither and die. Reduce, or stop, watering when the new leaves are emerging and start watering again in spring when the old leaves have completely withered. Water very sparingly, if at all, over the summer as this is the plant’s dormant period.
Older plants (3 to 5 years +) may reward you with flowers but we’re still waiting……….
STOP PRESS: My children have just informed me that I’ve got it all wrong. Apparently they look like brains, not stones.