Let's talk mesembs part 2

October 18, 2018
last modified: October 18, 2018

Due to popular demand, here is the next page. First page is [here[(

Lithops otzeniana photographed at the JSS Spring show.

Comments (196)

  • Stefan

    Thanks nick. Dont really know what to think about splitting them...

    Even repotting them is going to be drag because of their small size...

    my fingers arent as nimble as they used to be....youll have to thank the literal hundreds of cacti and succulents i have repotted in the past year or so..

    As for pot....plastic is all I got...

    Are you sure I got an aloinopsis? Because im not sure myself...i only recognized it was a mesemb and that was it...wish i also found frihtia and maybe titanopsis...but another time...

  • niksouthafrica

    I'll get a post together with my latest mesemb adventures a little later

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  • niksouthafrica

    See how you go, Stefan. Plastic is also ok, just don't overwater, then. What size are the pots in the picture?

    Bottom right is aloinopsis schooneesi and don't try splitting that.

    Pleiospilos bottom left can all stay in the same pot, too

    The lithops can be separated gently, they have a little tap root and the fine root system isn't huge. It would be better to do it sooner rather than later, depending on the size

  • Stefan

    Pots are the 4 cm small wholesale pots(rather expensive for their size, like the e.obesa and the medusoid one from last year- which are still arround)...

    I definitely intend to change soil though...out of experience...factory soil tends to bite me in the posterior after a while...most plants(only lost 4 so far,3 of which were parodia, and were probably poorly done) with the new soil dont complain.

  • Stefan

    Well i replanted them...used the mix i mentioned...did not mix that great , but it did mix...

    Used a lot of brick and red/pink rocks as topdressing, camouflaged some of the lithops...

    Some couldnt be separated..but they are potted together anyway...just slightly apart...

    Roots were......looking like a piece of string...

    The aloiniopsis had root mealies or something... cleaned, powdered..and added extra powder in new soil for good measure...

    The pleispilos was pretty straightforward though....

    Most normal roots, easy to clean soil, healthy root system...

  • niksouthafrica

    Good luck with them, keep us updated

  • Stefan

    After the repot and camo...

  • niksouthafrica

    That looks good. You can expect them to start going dormant as the temperatures rise but they should do some growing now

  • Stefan

    Idk. Ill say the following:

    They werent kept in adequate light;

    The florist said they havent been watered at all....but i find it somewhat hard to believe

    I know at least the soil should be very draining. How well that works for root rejuvenation...idk.

    Theyll not be wattered. According to my procedure...subsection difficult plants...2 weeks waiting period after repot. Dont know what to do after that... Theyll probably be kept in my room for the time being in semi shade on the shelf. My room will serve for germination once again..

  • Gabby C (TX 8B)

    I know people say nooo water for lithops during certain times, but, I was killing all mine that way. Best thing I have found is light mistings everyday! I would be cautious about not watering two weeks and then giving them a heavy water.

  • Stefan

    I never ever give heavy water after repot. Nope, just moistening up a bit. Small amount, roughly the volume of a small shot glass or 2. Pot dependent though...

    I do it the same weekly, only significant increment is after 2 months..

    And I only water heavily after visible signs of underwatering and heat stress(has happened with e.chamacereusand e.platyacanthus , as well as a.obesum )

    Given the state of the roots the lithops were in, im in no rush...

    As for the others...well I had a pleispilos and frithia rot from over each their own..

  • Stefan

    Just to verify about p.nelii:

    " Even with no watering the leaves don't shrink and prune up like some succulents do when they are not watered they stays plump even after several months with no water. For an idea of how succulent these plants are, a mature specimen can easily go a whole year without any water in a typical European or North American climate. If the plants are grown correctly, ideally there should only ever be 2 pairs of leaves. The lower ones are the previous years, and the top ones, the current years. "

    From lifle. Is this true?

  • Pagan

    Gabby--I bet that's the best way to simulate the foggy, misty habitats in which they evolved, especially the highland species. I tried lithops several times and the ones that lived longer than two seasons were totally rain-fed; they promptly died when we had an extraordinary amount of rainfall.

    Also, something ate my mesembs this winter. Chew marks on my opthalmophyllums! Cheriodopsis--gone. Some were completely eaten and never came back.

  • Jeff (5b)

    Sorry to hear about that Pagan. I don't think I'll ever have my Lithops outside, unless I have multiples. I want to try a Titanopsis or two outdoors in the summer.

    Here's a L. olivaea of some sort that has amazing colors after its second leaf change. Hard to duplicate on camera. It's still very small.

  • gdinieontarioz5

    Like many of you, I am enjoying the changes in my pots of Lithops. They all are in different stages.

    The green fatty was done weeks ago (same one as yours, Kara?):

    This one promised it will start thinking about it ;-).

  • gdinieontarioz5

    Was this thread ever low down...

    Last year summer I bought a pair of conos. They had just come out of the old skin, and one had a little bud. They were fine all winter and spring, I watered them when they started to wrinkle a bit. By the end of May I did not really see any change in them, but as it was supposed to be their time to go to sleep for the summer, I stopped watering them. Now they look horribly wrinkled and miserable. Is this normal, or should I water them. They are my first conos, and I don’t know what to do. The scar is from when I overwatered them in the beginning.

    When I got them:


  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    And this is why Conos are tricky. My gut feeling is to leave them alone. I think what will happen is the outer leaves will get uglier and uglier until they’re basically paper. Then the new set makes their way through the papery sheath.

    Conophytums are a new endeavor for me and from what I can tell is going to take years before I’m comfortable with them. It’s funny how Lithops do the same thing and I can grow those with my eyes closed, but Conophytums are so different.

    Check out this blog;). You think your Conos look thirsty;). This site is helpful.

  • gdinieontarioz5

    That is really helpful, thank you, Kara! Compared to some of those, mine are fatties still ;-). That is a wonderful blog. I followed it for a time, and then it fell off my radar. I am rereading it now.

  • ewwmayo

    My conos are in various stages right now, hopefully they will get in line as summer progresses! Dinie, hopefully my photos are a good reference for yours.

    My Lithops leaves have almost all be changed out now, just my bigger multi-headed plants to go (which have never fully changed over in the right sequence since I bought them).

  • gdinieontarioz5

    Thanks, Kevin. Yours look less miserable than mine, but they all seem to have their own schedule. My Lithops are all done too, except one that I think is not going to change. It is a fairly recent acquisition, maybe it changed before its pot brothers. I will treat it the same as the others. I feel far more confident with Lithops than with conos.

  • ewwmayo

    Some of my Lithops of various types that are in tune with the seasons:

    Two multi-headed clumps that are 'working on it'. These two have never been fully aligned over the seasons since I bought them. Each year has been getting better with them changing over.

    And for other Mesembs, my Rhinephyllum pillansii is budding!

  • niksouthafrica

    I have been preoccupied with other tasks, I will start a new thread?

    For some weird reason, my lithops are starting their new leaves now in winter instead of spring. Maybe they are confused because this winter has been so warm. Conos should be dormant in the summer

  • Jeff (5b)

    Some tiny Lithops

  • Pagan

    So, I'm going through all my mesembs to sort out which ones survived the usual winter deathwave. The one pot I expected to lose actually came through it alive!

    I got this last year

    Today: No clue why the two look different in the same pot.

    More survivors:

    Antegibbaeum fissoides (Springfontein); growing back after being chewed on by some rodent in the basement.

    Cheiridopsis peculiaris, also a rodent victim

    Mitrophyllum grande

    Ophthalmophyllum triebneri MG

    Ophthalmophyllum verrucosum MG

    Argyroderma congregatum SB2253 Soutrivier banks MG

    I'm only hoping it was some kind of mouse. It could be a large bug or slug. Some were totally eaten through overnight.

  • Pagan

    I want to add this one, too--some stomatium that I grew from seed. I lost track which one--I got several stomatium seed packs from Mesa Garden and the project had such a massive lack of success (lol) that it was a shock to actually see one survive.

    And I just got a few more packets of mesemb seeds from MG, for some reason. Go figure.

    I'm mystified by all the talk of timing and season-appropriate growth developments. I'm ecstatic my mesembs are even still alive!

  • Jeff (5b)

    My Cheiridopsis peculiaris seedling has shed twice now but it doesn't seem to want to grow.

    Middle of a Faucaria

    Gibbaeum heathii

  • Jeff (5b)

    Lithops karasmontana 'mickbergensis' C168

    julii ssp fulleri C319

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    It’s mesemb season:)! I bought this Conophytum in June. The tag says Conophytum x hanazzana. I can’t find anything on the internet with that name, but C. hana comes up that looks like my Cono. I get the impression it‘s a Japanese hybrid.

    Can’t take total credit for the flowers, but I’ve killed Conophytums within days of purchasing them. So I’m takin a little credit;).

    The flowers have been blooming everyday for over a week now, and they’re still goin.

    Each day the flowers get taller and taller like they’re being pushed up. The flower at the 9 o’clock spot was the first to open by a couple days. You can see it’s a little taller than the others.

    I‘ve kept them protected in bright filtered light, but one day I put them in afternoon sun. The flowers melted.

    Pretty sure the flowers have lasted 10+ days because they’ve been protected.

  • niksouthafrica

    Yes, in nature, many grow in cracks between rocks and only get a few hours of morning sun and are shaded the rest of the day. Conos are very easy to roast

  • Oliver Hauver

    Just wanted to chime in with some photos my seedlings.

    Conophytum flavum ‘ornatum’ about 6 months old

    Another batch of Conophytum flavum ‘ornatum’ about a year and a half old

    Conophytum minimum about a year and a half old

    Lithops mix about a year and a half old.

    So far i've been able to keep these little fellas alive. The lithops mix is kinda tricky and the time when they go dormant varies and i don't want to water them until they're all ready.

    The conos have been fun and i'm really excited to see 6 month old seedling wake up in a few weeks hopefully.


  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    Happy Fall/Spring mesemb lovers:)!

    I went to the San Jose succulent show yesterday and got a couple mesembs.

    This one is probably my fav purchase from yesterday.

    Cheiridopsis brownii with a few seed pods I will be putting in water tomorrow.

    Conophytum minutum

    There were the BIGGEST Lithops I have ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen some big ones. These were ginormous. The pot they’re in I think we’re about 4 inches wide. You can see a regular sized Lithops next to the big guy. I will say the normal ones are in shorter pots, but trust me these were crazy big. I wanted to buy one, but didn’t want to pay $8.50 for one Lithops lesliei;).

  • gdinieontarioz5

    Nice plants, Kara. I love the conos, especially as mine always die.

    Is that size normal/natural for Lithops? I have seen very big ones in stores sometimes, though maybe not as gigantic as the one you show, and have always thought they were overfed in some way.

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    I‘m not sure if Lithops in their natural habitat get that big. I doubt it tbh because I too have a feeling they’re overfed. I‘ve noticed some of the sale plants at the show are super bloated. Some of the cactus look like they’d burst if I put a pin through them. I think some of the sale plants at the show live cushy lives protected in greenhouses:). Then I buy them and their cushy life no more. It’s survival of the fittest;).

    There’s another reason why I didn’t pay $8.50 for one Lithops. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep them looking freakishly huge. They would either shrink or divide:).

    What happened to that Conophytum you were having issues with a few comments up?

  • gdinieontarioz5

    Kara, just today I saw another group of those giant Lithops. Some of them were well on their way to becoming giant bananas too, including one pair of bananas working themselves free from a completely turgid set of old leaves. Not pretty. Do you think they would in time shrink back to a normal size? The long etiolated ones don’t, it seems.

    The conos? Sigh. Picture taken five minutes ago. Speaks for itself, I think.

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    Dinie, your Conos look terrible, but on track;). Seems like there’s something cooking under their brown papery sheathes. I was reading that a lot of these little conos are true winter growers. Suprisingly they are pretty hardy, down to -2C. I swear I read one species, forget which one was hardy down to -5C. As long as they stay dry of course. I‘m getting the vibe they‘re happier when it’s cooler. The conos I have killed was from too much heat and sun. They just melted:(.

    I was curious if etiolated Lithops would go back. So I bought a tall Lithops two years ago. I acclimated them to morning sun and have only gone thru one set of leaves, but their still tall. I guess time will tell.

    For anybody who cares, Cheiridopsis peculiaris update. It grew a little green wart that doesn’t seem to want to be absorbed. I think I will start to water on Oct. 1.

  • gdinieontarioz5

    I had given up hope, but I will give it more time. I watered it a bit, maybe twice, but no change. Who knows?

    I also got an etiolated pair of Lithops, of a kind I really wanted, and buried them till they looked good ;-). They also went through a leaf change, and they look ok. I figured I could enjoy them till they rotted away, but being buried in pumice doesn’t seem to bother them. They can stay till I find a good one. They are at 1 and 2 o’clock.

    There is someone in Germany who did an experiment. Over several years there was no real improvement. Once a banana, always a banana.

    Can that wart on the Cheiridopsis be a second pair of leaves?

  • gdinieontarioz5

    My Lithops at least love me ;-).

    And first bloom on this Fenestraria:

  • niksouthafrica

    Some lithops are tall, not etiolated. They look like that here even in full sun.

    Apologies for going missing in action, I have been crazy busy.

    Conos are dormant in summer and develop dried out sheaths so you should see action as the weather cools. I would start misting them at least.

  • gdinieontarioz5

    Thank you, Nik. I will try to revive the conos. Nights especially have been cool here, down to between 10 and 15 C. I hope they will surprise me yet.

  • isde02(zone5b)

    Those lithops are gorgeous dinie! Good job.

  • gdinieontarioz5

    I will try to get some pictures soon of what I consider “bananas”. Maybe you can give your opinion on whether they are etiolated or just tall. The pair Kara shows I would call etiolated. My buried banana is worse, I think.

  • Jeff (5b)

    [True] nik, I've embarrassingly thought that some people were overgrowing their Lithops (the tall ones especially) and now know that some just grow that way. I have seedlings where there are two different types in a pot--one type will be tall and the other a more 'normal' compact size. Then there are also some of the exact Cole number that are tall and some aren't, under the same conditions. I've learned to just not be concerned since I'm not overwatering or overfertilizing my own plants. Buying full grown ones can be a different story.

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    Nik I have a very stupid question for you if you don’t mind:). I’ve wondered this for awhile now, but lets use Conophytums as an example. Are they winter growers in the Southern Hemisphere? The grow when it’s cooler, and the little bit I’ve grown I can see they don‘t do well with heat or super strong sun. Hence the husks protecting them from that summer sun. Have the ones in the Northern Hemisphere been cultivated here for so long that they’ve gotten on our seasons’ schedule?

  • niksouthafrica

    No, they are winter growers here too. They evolved to grow in areas which receive very little rainfall but plenty of sea fog and heavy dew. They hibernate during the hottest months and grow when it is cooler. Most of them grow in between rocks and under some kind of shade and putting them in full sun all day quickly kills them. Morning sun and shade during the hottest part of the day is the secret to growing happy conos. Mine are happily doing their thing on my bathroom windowsill which gets morning sun only. Note that my bathroom is very well ventilated, it's not humid in there at all

    Conophytum bilobum which is very easy to grow and I water it about once a week

    Tiny C. obcordellum in a 3cm pot. the image is quite yellow because of the flash, it flowers at night. I water it whenever it gets a little wrinkled

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    Those are some pretty Conophytums you got there:).

    Thank you for the answering my silly question. I figured that, but I wanted to make sure. I know other succulents would adapt to the opposite hemisphere. But succulents like Conos and Lithops are such slow movers, stubborn, and grow when they want. I thought maybe they wouldn’t adapt to the seasons being switched.

    Once I figure out how to grow these darn Conos, they really wouldn’t mind my climate. I would need to watch out for heavy winter/spring rains, but other than that they would be fine. You confirming they really are true winter growers makes things easier. At least in my head it seems easier.

    I see people grow their Conos in big greenhouse trays. I wonder if that’s a good idea. I would never have to repot them and their roots can grow wherever throughout the tray.

    This is very far off in the future considering I only have a handful of Conos.

  • Oliver Hauver

    Hi, I have some C. Minimum which have started cracking. I gave them a bigger watering about a week or so ago. Could that have been too much? I know they’ll be scarred till they grow a new pair of leaves but I don’t want to loose my year old seedlings. Should I hold off all water for while? Any suggestions/thoughts would be great!


  • niksouthafrica

    Yes the longitudinal cracking is from watering. Although the usual advice with conos is to water thoroughly monthly, I tend to water lightly, more frequently in a mix that drains very quickly. My feeling with mesembs is that the longer the roots stay wet, the more water they absorb and that's when they crack

  • Oliver Hauver

    Ok, I’ll let them go for a little bit and try lighter watering/misting.

  • Kara 9b SF Bay Area CA

    Omg I just found a Conophytum I need! It’s so ugly it’s beautiful. Looks like some new life form they’d find on Mars.

    Conophytum pellucidum terricolor pics from Google images.

  • gdinieontarioz5

    Kara, I need that! After I learn to grow them...

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