Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Use this forum to discuss matters relating to Delosperma, Faucaria, Lapidaria, Lithops, Oscularia, Pleiospilos and related species. This is where one posts unknown plant photos for ID help.

Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#1  Postby Diane » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:39 am

Here in the UK, cacti are beginning to go dormant as winter approaches, but the mesemb family provide plenty of colour to extend our interest. Here are a few views of my quite modest collection of Lithops and a few of the "other" mesembs.
About 90% of these Lithops were grown from seed by me, and some are at least 25 years old. I used to buy seed from Mesa Garden starting in 1990, but these days, most seed I buy comes from the Mesemb Study Group here in the UK, which produces a really good seed list each year.
I do have a "thing" about the freak coloured cultivars in red and green, and have quite a few of those.
This gravel tray is 22" square and contains over 70 pots:
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Lithops
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This tray is 11" x 22":
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Lithops
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I also have quite a few Conophytums - again, mostly raised from seed. They've been a bit neglected for the last few years, and I'm currently taking cuttings of some of the more straggly ones, so there are a few gaps.
Again, two 22" sq. trays:
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Conophytums
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Conophytums
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A few of those "other" mesembs - Glottiphyllums have a reputation for being green monsters, but not if they are given full sun, and grown hard - this is G. oligocarpum just coming into flower:
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G. oligocarpum
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And G. pygmaeum:
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G. pygmaeum:
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Gibbaeum nebrownii (aka Imitaria muirii) showing the colour change in ageing flowers -
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Gibbaeum nebrownii
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Argyroderma delaetii - splitting leaves is almost unavoidable with this species!
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Argyroderma delaetii
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And Argyroderma hallii:
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Argyroderma hallii
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An old plant of Lapidaria margaretae- beautifully sculptured leaves:
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Lapidaria margaretae
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Finally, a tiny tufted species - Bergeranthus katbergensis (apologies the flower is out of focus)
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Bergeranthus katbergensis
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#2  Postby leo25 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:31 am

Congratulations, very nice plants.
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#3  Postby Azuleja » Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:38 am

Holy cow! Your "modest" collection of seed grown lithops is bonkers. Are you ever tempted to mix them up in community pots?
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#4  Postby Diane » Fri Oct 28, 2016 7:39 am

Azuleja - Very early in my growing experience I did plant some Lithops in a large clay saucer, because they look so pretty all together. But it's not really advisable to do this as the different species come from a wide range of habitats in S. Africa, and therefore have differing water requirements. Some species come into growth much earlier than others, and others need less water than most, which becomes a problem in a community pan. However, such pans are often seen at Cactus shows, and look really splendid, but may have been planted up specifically for a show, and dismantled afterwards.
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#5  Postby Azuleja » Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:55 am

Ah I see, maybe there are small groups with similar needs that go better together than others? As a kid, I would occasionally see unusual plants and try to keep them. After killing a variety of cool things at an early age, including lithops, I gave up and started keeping insects. I don't keep insects anymore but I am still not responsible enough for lithops. :oops:
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#6  Postby Gee.S » Fri Oct 28, 2016 1:00 pm

Outstanding! The only place I've seen a less modest collect is at Living Stones Nursery.
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#7  Postby SC FM » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:37 am

All I can say is this is an incredible collection, and all well grown, the best I have ever seen, hands down. The stone plants are about the hardest family to grow well, in my opinion.
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#8  Postby Steph115 » Thu May 04, 2017 10:43 pm

Diane - wow, what an beautiful collection! And some 25 years old?! I didn't even know this was possible. I've seen other sources claim that lithops in captivity only live a couple years.

I sowed ~200 mixed lithops seeds about 2 months ago, and I would love to pick your brain for some advice. I sowed them in a mix of 40/40/20 cactus soil/perlite/sand and have them in a west-facing window. I count about 70 now. They are (slowly) looking more plump. I have noticed a couple die off here and there. I touch the soil and spray them a couple times a day to keep them as evenly moist as possible. They also have a tendency to fall over. Perhaps I shouldn't have, but I took a tiny instrument and set them upright.

My questions for you:
- Do I start to water them less only when the fissure opens & the true leaves start to form? Or should I start doing this gradually now?
- Do you have any specific recommendations to prevent damping off? I used Actinovate when I started the seeds and reapply every 1-2 weeks or so. I've also heard that H2O2 in low concentrations can have some efficacy, but not sure I'm brave enough to try.
- Is there any need to separate these very young lithops from one another? Some are clearly different species as far as size & morphology go, but I have no idea how I'd go about identifying them this early and treating them accordingly.

Looking forward to hearing any & all advice you might have. I love these weird little plants. Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos of yours!
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#9  Postby Diane » Tue May 09, 2017 9:19 am

Hi Steph - I've only just seen your reply, so I hope you see this. First, well done on your germination! I would continue to water lightly all through the first year. When the first true bodies emerge, they won't have a proper fissure - that usually comes in the second year when their true characteristics show. To prevent damping off, they really need plenty of fresh air - I don't advocate using chemicals on such small seedlings as it can cause damage (not sure what Actinovate is - guess you're in the US? I'm in the UK). Mesembs seem to love growing in a close community, so no need to separate them until they are really crowding each other, although with different species some will grow more strongly than others.
And yes, they can live for many years - 25 years is not that unusual, I believe Steve Hammer has plants much older than this.
This link to Terry Smale's advice is very good (he's a friend of mine, who grows amazing mesembs!) http://www.smale-conophytum.co.uk/grow_lithops.htm
Although I don't wish to rain on your parade, mimicry mesembs don't do too well on windowsills, due to their need for intense light - their habitat is vast quartz plains in S. Africa, where they grow level with the ground. You may find yours will grow rather tall on a window sill. Mine are kept in full light in a greenhouse (albeit in the UK, where light levels aren't that great...)
HTH!!
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Re: Lithops and a few "other" mesembs

Post Number:#10  Postby Steph115 » Wed May 10, 2017 7:37 am

Diane -

Thank you so much for your reply & advice - especially the tip about the windowsill. Outside they go! I've moved them to a spot with morning sun & plenty of shade, and I'll work up from there. Good to know also about damping off - hopefully the outside air will help with that, too. Actinovate is a beneficial bacteria (Strep lydicus) - it keeps fungus at bay. I was introduced to it when researching aloe polyphylla seedling growth, since they like a lot of irrigation.

Happy gardening =)
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