When to Repot Lithops: Essential Guide for Succulent Success

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Lithops, also known as living stones or flowering stones, are fascinating succulents that resemble pebbles and rocks in their native habitat of southern Africa. These hardy plants have evolved to blend in with their surroundings to prevent from being consumed by animals during times of drought. Due to their unique appearance and adaptive qualities, lithops have become popular houseplants for succulent enthusiasts.

Repotting lithops requires proper timing and care, as these plants are sensitive to environmental changes and can live for decades when cared for correctly. Generally, the best time to repot lithops is during their growing season, which typically begins around May. It’s essential to repot lithops only when necessary, such as when they’ve outgrown their container or if there are issues like soggy soil.

By understanding the proper techniques for repotting and ensuring that lithops receive adequate sunlight, you can keep your intriguing living stone plants healthy and thriving for years to come.

Understanding Lithops

Anatomy and Growth Patterns

Lithops, also known as living stones, are small, stemless succulent plants with distinct appearances. Their unique anatomy features two thick, fleshy leaves fused together, forming a cone-shaped body. The plants’ growth patterns are seasonal, with new leaves emerging from the center in the spring or fall. These new leaves absorb the nutrients from the old leaves, which eventually wither away.

The plants typically flower once a year, with blooms appearing between the leaves. They are monoecious, producing both male and female reproductive organs within the same flower. Their colors can vary, with hues of yellow, white, and orange being the most common.

Natural Habitat

Lithops originate from the arid regions of southern Africa, specifically South Africa and Namibia. Their stone-like appearance is a remarkable adaptation to blend in with their surroundings and avoid being eaten by animals. Lithops thrive in well-draining soils with low organic content, resembling the rocky terrain of their natural habitat.

In the wild, they receive minimal water as their environment experiences very little rainfall. This has led to their ability to store water in their leaves, allowing them to survive extended periods of drought. As a result, when cultivated as houseplants, they require very little watering and can be quite sensitive to overwatering.

When growing lithops, it’s essential to replicate their natural environment as closely as possible. This includes providing well-draining soil, sufficient sunlight, and infrequent watering. Repotting lithops is a crucial step in maintaining their health, as it offers an opportunity to refresh the soil and ensure optimal growing conditions. In general, the best time to repot lithops is when the plants have finished flowering and the old leaves have dried up, which usually occurs during the dormant period in winter or early spring.

Signs It’s Time to Repot Lithops

Root Bound

One indication that your lithops may need repotting is if they become root bound. This occurs when the roots run out of space to grow and start to coil around the edge of their container. As lithops are relatively small plants, they usually don’t experience this problem as quickly as other plants might. Nonetheless, keep an eye on their container to ensure roots aren’t reaching its edge.

Signs of Stress

Lithops are succulents that thrive under specific conditions, and noticing signs of stress can help you determine when it’s time to repot them. Observe your lithops for signs that suggest they are no longer comfortable in their environment and need a new pot. Some common stress signs include:

  • Soggy soil: If the soil in your lithops’ container is often soggy, this may indicate poor drainage, which can cause the plant roots to rot. Repotting into fresh soil that offers better drainage may be beneficial in such cases.
  • Yellowing leaves: Lithops can develop yellow leaves as a response to overwatering or poor soil conditions. If you notice yellowing leaves frequently, it could be an indication that the current potting mix is not suitable for your plant, and repotting may be necessary.
  • Slow growth: When lithops don’t grow as expected during the growing season — typically around May — it may be a sign they need to be repotted. Changing the potting mix, container size, and checking for proper drainage could help improve their growth rate.

In conclusion, repotting lithops should be determined based on their growth patterns and overall health. Look for signs of being root bound or showing stress indicators like soggy soil, yellowing leaves, or stunted growth to decide if repotting is necessary during the plant’s growing season.

The Repotting Process

Choosing the Right Container

When repotting lithops, it’s essential to select a container that provides adequate space and proper drainage. A shallow pot is preferable, as lithops have a small root system. Ensure that the container has drainage holes at the bottom to avoid waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. Consider using terra cotta pots, as their porous nature allows for better airflow and assists in moderating soil moisture levels.

Selecting the Appropriate Soil

Lithops thrive in a well-draining, gritty soil mix that mimics their natural environment. A blend of 1:1 ratio of potting soil and coarse sand, perlite, or pumice will create the right balance. You can also add a small amount of crushed granite or charcoal to improve drainage. Avoid using heavy, clay-based soils, as these can retain too much moisture and cause root rot.

Transplanting Steps

Following these steps when transplanting lithops can ensure a successful repotting process:

  1. Gently Remove the Plant: Carefully loosen the soil around your lithops with a gardening tool or your fingers. Gently lift the plant, making sure not to damage its roots.
  2. Inspect and Trim Roots: Inspect the root system for any indications of decay or harm. If you find unhealthy roots, use a clean, sharp pair of scissors to trim them before repotting.
  3. Prepare the New Container: Place a layer of your chosen well-draining soil mix at the bottom of the pot, leaving enough room for the lithops to sit slightly below the rim.
  4. Position the Lithops: Place your lithops in the center of the pot, ensuring that its roots have enough space to spread out without being cramped.
  5. Add Remaining Soil Mix: Gently fill in the space around your lithops with the remaining soil mixture, making sure to cover the roots but do not bury the plant too deeply.
  6. Firm Up the Soil: Press down lightly on the surface of the soil to ensure that your lithops is secure and well-supported.
  7. Wait to Water: Allow your newly repotted lithops to settle for a few days before watering it. This will give the plant time to adjust to its new environment and help avoid overwatering.

By following these guidelines, your lithops should be well-prepared for a successful repotting experience. Throughout the process, always handle your plant with care and be mindful of its delicate, unique structure.

Lithops Care After Repotting

Watering Regimen

Upon repotting your Lithops, it’s crucial to establish a proper watering regimen. As with most succulents, Lithops don’t need frequent watering. In fact, they thrive in dry environments, so it’s essential to let 100% of the soil volume dry before watering during spring and summer. Over-watering can lead to root rot or other complications. It’s important to remember that the water needs of Lithops change with the seasons: during their growing seasons, water them more frequently, and reduce watering during their dormant phases.


Finding the ideal location for your repotted Lithops plays a significant role in their overall health and success. Lithops need 6 hours or more of direct sunlight every day to thrive. A south-facing window is the perfect spot for these living stones as they require plenty of sunlight. If you don’t have access to a south-facing window, an east-facing windowsill is another viable option. Aim for a location where they can get around five hours of direct sun per day.

When placing your Lithops, also consider their temperature needs. They prefer a mild to warm environment and are susceptible to frost damage. Protect them from extreme temperatures by keeping them indoors during colder months or providing appropriate shelter outdoors.

In conclusion, the key to Lithops care after repotting is ensuring they have the correct watering regimen and are placed in a well-lit location. Give your Lithops a good start, and they will reward you with healthy growth and fascinating appearance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Best season for repotting?

The ideal time to repot lithops is during their growing season, which usually falls in spring or autumn. Repotting during this period helps ensure that the plants can recover from the process and continue to grow without experiencing stress or damage. It is generally recommended to repot lithops around the month of May.

How often to repot?

There is no strict rule on how often lithops should be repotted. Instead, it depends on factors such as the health of the plants, the condition of the soil, and the size of the container. If the plants are healthy and still have room to grow in their current pot, there is no need to repot. However, if the soil becomes soggy or if the plants outgrow their container, then repotting may be necessary.

Signs lithops need repotting?

There are a few signs that your lithops could benefit from repotting. These include:

  • Outgrowing their current container
  • Soil becoming overly soggy or compacted
  • Plants showing signs of stress, such as yellowing, wilting, or deformation

In these cases, repotting can help provide a fresh, well-draining environment for your lithops to thrive.

Choosing the right pot?

A suitable pot for lithops should provide excellent drainage and sufficient room for them to grow. Choose a pot with drainage holes and made from materials such as terracotta or ceramic, which are breathable and porous. Ensure that the new pot is slightly larger than the current one but not too big, as an excessively large container can result in overly wet soil – detrimental to lithops’ health.

Repot during splitting?

Lithops go through a process called splitting when they shed their old leaves and grow new ones. It is generally not recommended to repot lithops during this time, as doing so can cause unnecessary stress and may disturb the delicate new leaves. Instead, wait until the splitting process is complete and the plants have had time to recover before repotting.

Post-repot watering?

After repotting lithops, it is important not to water them immediately. This allows the plants to adjust to their new environment and avoids overly wet soil around their roots. Instead, wait for the soil to be completely dry before providing the first watering. This can vary in duration, depending on the specific needs of your plants and their environment. To maintain healthy lithops, always monitor the soil’s moisture levels and only water when necessary.

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