Lithops gracilidelineata subsp. brandbergensis
Lithops gracilidelineata is native to Namibia where the plant grows almost completely buried on weathered white quartz gravel between bigger pebbles and stones on the mountains.
Lithops gracilidelineata is a dwarf succulent belonging to the Aizoaceae botanical family. The plants of this genus are very beautiful and have developed unusual strategies to blend in with nature and avoid herbivores: they mimic stones! The plant is almost entirely buried and emerge from the ground only for 3 cm, it is solitary and generally does not branch. The succulent usually forms only 2 thick, fleshy windowed leaves separated by a crack. The leaves are pale greyish to pinkish brown with reddish veins slightly depressed which give the plant a wrinkled appearance. The windowed leaves allow the plant to photosynthesize in the inner body of the plant in order to avoid to bear green leaves outside which may attract herbivores. The light through the windowed leaves is redirect from the outer faces of the leaves in the inner body of the plant. Blooming occurs from the end of the summer and the autumn and the flowers emerge from the crack between the 2 leaves. The flowers are bright yellow, 5 cm in diameter and have many petals.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it is easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light during the summer. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The maximum resistance to cold is 10 °C so it is recommended not to expose the plant to lower temperatures. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice, clay and loam. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. In Spring and Autumn, the plant can be watered with half a glass of water every week; in summer it can be watered with two glasses of water a week; in winter stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation is usually done by seed. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 20 C°.
They are also known as “living stones”, since their name comes from lithos (stone) and opsis, which means appearance.
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