My Lithops is Wrinkled: Succulent Care Solutions

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Lithops, also known as living stones, are unique and fascinating succulents that resemble rocks or stones. They are popular among plant enthusiasts for their distinct appearance and low-maintenance requirements. However, it is not uncommon for lithops owners to come across certain obstacles when caring for these plants, one of which is having their lithops appear wrinkled.

A wrinkled lithops could indicate a problem with how the plant is being cared for, or it could simply be a part of the normal growth process. Identifying the underlying cause of the wrinkling is crucial for any gardener who wants to keep their lithops healthy and thriving. The most common reasons behind this issue include underwatering, overwatering, or the plant going through a period of dormancy.

By understanding the contributing factors that cause lithops wrinkling, enthusiasts can adjust their care practices accordingly. This, in turn, will help ensure that the living stones receive the optimal attention they need to flourish and maintain their unique appearance.

Identifying Wrinkled Lithops

Natural Growth Process

Lithops, a type of succulent often referred to as “living stones,” are known to have a somewhat peculiar growth process. They go through two periods of dormancy in their native climate, with spring and summer being the active growth periods. During these times, new leaves emerge and grow, while old leaves are slowly absorbed for nutrients. As this process takes place, the outer appearance of Lithops may show some wrinkles or shriveling, which can be a normal part of their growth cycle.

Wrinkled Appearance Variations

It’s essential to understand that not all wrinkled or shriveled Lithops indicate an issue. Instead, variations in their appearance are natural and typically related to their cyclical growth process. However, if the wrinkling seems excessive or unusual, it could signal potential problems like underwatering, overwatering, or inadequate environmental conditions. In such cases, owners must carefully assess the situation and make the necessary adjustments to ensure the plant’s health.

Pay close attention to the Lithops’ overall appearance, as well as the surrounding moisture and lighting conditions. If the wrinkling is simply part of the natural growth process, the plant will recover and continue to thrive. However, if underlying issues are causing the wrinkling, it’s important to address them promptly to prevent further damage or potential loss of the plant.

Common Causes of Wrinkling


One common cause of wrinkled Lithops is underwatering. When these plants don’t receive adequate water, they may develop horizontal wrinkles and appear shriveled. It is important to ensure that your Lithops receive the right amount of water, which can be tricky, as their watering needs may vary depending on the season. It is essential to keep an eye on the plant’s appearance and adjust watering accordingly. You can find more information about this on Gardential.


Conversely, overwatering can also lead to wrinkling and softening of Lithops. These plants need a specific watering schedule, which is not the same as other succulents. Overwatering can result in shriveling, wrinkling, or softness, so it’s crucial to know when and how much to water your Lithops. Again, monitoring the appearance of the plant and adjusting the watering will help you prevent these symptoms. Check out this DataBody article for additional information on the topic.

Temperature Stress

Another potential cause of wrinkled Lithops is temperature stress. These plants are adapted to extreme conditions in their natural habitat, so they can handle temperature fluctuations to an extent. However, when exposed to sudden changes in temperature or extreme temperatures for a prolonged period, they may develop wrinkles.

To avoid temperature stress, try to maintain a consistent temperature in your Lithops’ environment. Pay attention to their location, as they can be sensitive to drafts, direct sunlight, or cold windows during winter, which can lead to temperature stress. It is also essential to be aware of the plant’s natural seasonal cycles and adjust your care accordingly.

In conclusion, to ensure that your Lithops remain healthy and wrinkle-free, it’s crucial to provide the appropriate care with regards to watering and temperature management. By maintaining a balance between underwatering and overwatering, and ensuring that your plant is not exposed to temperature stress, you can prevent wrinkles and maintain the health and appearance of your Lithops.

How to Fix Wrinkled Lithops

Adjusting Watering Routine

One of the main reasons that lithops become wrinkled is due to improper watering routines. It’s essential to find a balance between overwatering and underwatering these plants. When lithops are underwatered, they can become wrinkled and dehydrated. To fix this issue, you should wait until the plant shows signs of moderate wrinkling and then give them a good soaking1. In general, it’s important to let the soil dry out completely before the next watering. During the winter season, however, avoid watering lithops as they draw water from their old leaves to grow a new pair2.

Providing Proper Environment

Lithops thrive in a well-draining soil mix that allows water to quickly pass through, preventing root rot. A quality well-draining cactus soil combined with mineral grit like perlite, coarse sand, or decomposed gravel is ideal3. This combination of soil and adequate watering schedules will help resolve wrinkling problems caused by overwatering.

In addition to proper soil and watering, lithops also require an appropriate environment to grow in. Make sure to provide them with bright, indirect light, as direct sunlight can cause stress and other problems. Maintaining a consistent temperature is also important, as fluctuating temperatures can negatively impact the health of your lithops.

By adjusting your lithops’ watering routine, providing them with the appropriate soil, and maintaining a suitable environment, your wrinkled lithops should regain their healthy appearance and continue to thrive.

Preventing Future Wrinkling

Appropriate Soil Mix

To prevent wrinkling in your lithops, it’s crucial to use an appropriate soil mix. These succulents require a well-draining and porous mix that allows water to flow through easily. A common mix consists of equal parts potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite or pumice. This combination ensures proper drainage and prevents water from accumulating around the roots, which could lead to wrinkling and other health issues.

Monitoring Environmental Factors

Another vital aspect of preventing lithops wrinkling is monitoring environmental factors. Lithops are native to arid regions and require a certain level of environmental consistency to thrive. Consider the following when caring for your lithops:

Light: Lithops need plenty of sunlight for optimal growth. Ensure they receive around 4-5 hours of direct sunlight per day. Inadequate light exposure may cause wrinkling.

Watering: Lithops only need occasional watering, and overwatering can lead to wrinkling. Make sure the soil is completely dry before watering your plant, as excess moisture can be harmful. During dormant periods, i.e., late fall until late spring, withhold water entirely. Only water when the plant begins to show signs of wrinkling.

Temperature: Be mindful of the temperature in your plant’s living space. Lithops are most comfortable between 65°F – 80°F during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night. Sudden temperature fluctuations may stress the plant and contribute to wrinkling.

Humidity: As a desert-native plant, lithops thrive in low-humidity environments. If the humidity in your living space is high, consider using a dehumidifier or placing your lithops in an area with more ventilation to lower humidity levels.

By maintaining the appropriate soil mix and monitoring the environmental factors that impact your lithops, you can ensure their health and prevent wrinkling issues in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my lithops dying?

There could be several reasons for your lithops dying, such as underwatering, overwatering, or improper care. One key factor can be underwatering, which leads to shriveling and horizontal wrinkles on the plant’s surface. To avoid this, be sure to provide the right amount of water without overwatering 1.

Is my lithops overwatered?

It can be difficult to tell if your lithops is overwatered, as the symptoms may be similar to those of underwatering. Overwatering can cause the plant to become squishy, which is one sign to watch out for. To prevent overwatering, ensure you follow a proper watering schedule based on the specific needs of lithops 2.

What causes a squishy lithops?

A squishy lithops can be caused by overwatering the plant 2. You must find a balance in watering, as underwatering can cause the plant to shrivel, while overwatering turns it squishy. Make sure you provide adequate drainage and follow the correct watering regime for lithops.

How to identify underwatered lithops?

Underwatered lithops will appear shriveled, with horizontal wrinkles on the top 1. The plant may also seem dehydrated, and as if it’s shrinking in size. It’s essential to provide your lithops with enough water to avoid these symptoms while also preventing overwatering.

When do lithops typically split?

Lithops usually split during their growth period, which begins in spring and summer. During this time, the plant will absorb water and nutrients, initiating new leaf growth. The old leaves will start to dry up and eventually crack, allowing the new leaves to emerge 3.

How to prevent wrinkly lithops?

To prevent wrinkly lithops, it’s essential to follow proper care guidelines. This includes providing the right amount of water to avoid both under- and overwatering. Ensure a well-draining soil mix, and avoid exposing your lithops to extreme temperatures. It’s also crucial to place the plant in a location with sufficient light, preferably natural sunlight, to promote healthy growth 4.