Why Is My Lithops Squishy? Exploring Causes & Solutions

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 If you’re a fan of growing succulents, you’re probably a proud owner of a Lithops plant, commonly known as the “living stone.” These unique and fascinating plants are native to arid regions in southern Africa. They have adapted to their environments by developing thick, succulent leaves for water storage, making them incredibly resilient and low-maintenance plants. However, this adaptation leaves many Lithops enthusiasts puzzled when they come across the plant getting soft and squishy.

There could be several reasons for this peculiar transformation in your beloved Lithops. The squishiness of your plant’s leaves may indicate an issue related to water absorption or growth patterns. In this article, we will delve into the factors that contribute to the squishiness of Lithops and help you understand how to solve the problem. By becoming more informed about Lithops care, you’ll learn to identify the signs and causes of this issue to keep your plants healthy and thriving.

Understanding Lithops’ growth patterns and proper care methods is crucial for avoiding common issues, such as overwatering, edema, and stretching. Additionally, finding the balance between providing the right environment and appropriate amounts of water will help your succulent flourish. So let’s dive in and explore the mystery of the squishy Lithops!

Why Lithops Become Squishy

Lithops, also known as “living stones,” are unique succulents that can become squishy for a variety of reasons. In this section, we will explore some common causes: Overwatering, Underwatering, and Root Rot.


One major reason for a squishy lithops is overwatering. These plants have a low tolerance for excessive moisture, as they are adapted to survive in arid environments. When they receive too much water, the cells within their leaves can become engorged, leading to a soft and squishy texture. Overwatering can also cause vertical wrinkles on the lithops, indicating a need for a reduced watering schedule.

To prevent overwatering, ensure that the soil in which your lithops is planted has excellent drainage. Additionally, be mindful of their watering needs and avoid providing more moisture than necessary.


Underwatering can also cause lithops to become squishy. When these plants don’t receive enough moisture, their cells can lose turgor and become soft. In some cases, this can lead to the lithops developing a wrinkly or shriveled appearance as they try to conserve their water resources.

To avoid underwatering your lithops, pay attention to their natural growth cycle and provide the appropriate amount of water during their active growth period. Remember that these plants have adaptations for drought, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and provide less water rather than too much.

Root Rot

Finally, root rot can be another cause of a squishy lithops. This is typically the result of overwatering, as excess moisture can provide an ideal environment for fungal growth. If the roots of your lithops become infected with root rot, they may begin to decay, leading to a failure to adequately absorb water and nutrients.

A telltale sign of root rot is a foul smell coming from the base of your lithops. If you have reason to believe that there is root decay, you may need to take out the impacted plant from its container, cut off any impaired roots, and replant in fresh, well-draining soil.

In conclusion, maintaining your lithops’ health largely revolves around providing the appropriate balance of moisture. Be mindful of their unique watering needs, and always keep an eye out for any changes in their texture or appearance that could indicate an issue.

Understanding Lithops Physiology

Growth and Reproduction

Lithops are unique succulents, often referred to as “living stones” or “split rocks,” due to their appearance. These fascinating plants have a growth cycle that involves the formation of a new pair of leaves each year. The old leaves shrivel, making room for the new ones since they only have one pair of leaves at a time. Their growth process typically starts right after the blooming season.

During the growth phase, it’s common for Lithops to become soft and squishy, as this indicates the old leaves are wilting and losing nutrients and water. As the new leaves grow, the old pair turns into thin, shell-like sheets, which can be removed once the new leaves have fully developed.

Natural Habitat

In their natural habitat, Lithops can be found in regions of South Africa and Namibia. They have adapted to survive in harsh environments, often characterized by water scarcity and extreme temperatures. One crucial adaptation is their ability to blend in with their surroundings, resembling rocks to avoid being eaten by predators.

Lithops thrive in well-drained soil with a high percentage of rock or grit, as these components help to maintain appropriate moisture levels. These plants require plenty of sunlight throughout the day, as they have evolved to capture light from direct sun exposure in their natural environment.

To mimic their natural habitat in a home setting, it’s essential to provide Lithops with a well-draining soil mix and appropriate sunlight. These factors will support healthy growth and prevent the squishiness associated with over-watering or improper care.

How to Care for Lithops

Lithops, also known as living stones, are unique succulents that require specific care to thrive. By providing the right environment and attending to their needs, you can enjoy these fascinating plants in your home.

Watering Requirements

When it comes to watering Lithops, less is more. During spring and summer, let 100% of the soil volume dry before watering again. Lithops typically enter dormancy in fall and winter, requiring little to no water. Only water when the lithops show signs of shriveling up, as they generally thrive in a dry environment. To avoid root rot and other issues related to overwatering, allow the soil to dry completely between watering sessions.

Proper Soil Mix

The right soil mix ensures proper drainage and encourages healthy growth for Lithops. It’s best to use a blend of cactus mix and potting mix, resulting in a well-draining, airy, and light soil. You can also add pebbles and perlite to improve drainage and mimic their natural habitat. Remember that Lithops’ native environments consist of rocky and sandy soils, so mimicking these conditions can go a long way in keeping your plants healthy.

Light and Temperature

Lithops thrive in bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can cause them to burn, while too little light can lead to stretching, resulting in unhealthy plants. The ideal light exposure is to receive a few hours of morning sun followed by bright, indirect light throughout the day. This helps to promote a regular growth pattern and maintain their unique shape.

As for temperature, Lithops are generally content in average household temperatures. However, they may struggle with sudden temperature fluctuations or extreme conditions. Protect your Lithops from cold drafts and excessive heat to keep them healthy and happy.

By following these care tips, your Lithops will have the best chance of thriving and adorning your home with their intriguing appearance. Remember that consistency in care is key to maintaining a healthy Lithops plant.

Signs of a Healthy Lithops

A healthy Lithops plant has some key characteristics that indicate it is growing and thriving properly. One important sign is the presence of firm, plump leaves. Lithops leaves should have a solid feel and should not be soft or squishy. A squishy Lithops could be a sign that it is wilting as part of its natural growth process or experiencing some issues like overwatering.

These unique plants are also known as “living stones” due to their striking resemblance to stones or rocks. A healthy Lithops should display vibrant colors that blend well with its surrounding environment. The colors could vary from shades of green, brown, purple, and even orange. These colors help the plant camouflage, protecting it from potential predators.

Lithops have a relatively slow growth rate, so a sign of a healthy plant is the presence of new leaves emerging from between the existing leaves. This process can take months, with the old leaves eventually wilting and becoming thin, making way for the new growth. Patience is essential when observing these changes in your Lithops plant.

Proper watering is crucial for Lithops’ well-being. They require little water, but giving them too little or too much can cause problems. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to shriveled leaves, but also be cautious not to underwater them, which could result in horizontal wrinkles on the top of the plant.

In summary, a healthy Lithops plant will exhibit firm, plump leaves, vibrant colors, new leaf growth, and proper watering habits. By maintaining these conditions, your Lithops will thrive and bring unique beauty to your indoor or outdoor garden.

Reviving a Squishy Lithops

Diagnosing the Issue

A squishy lithops can be concerning, but it is important to first diagnose the underlying issue causing this condition. Lithops typically become squishy and soft when they are wilting due to the old leaves being used up by new growth. Additionally, underwatering can cause a lithops plant to shrivel, exhibiting horizontal wrinkles on the top surface of the plant. Understanding the cause of your squishy lithops is crucial for planning the appropriate recovery steps.

Steps to Recovery

Once you’ve identified the cause of your lithops’ squishiness, follow these steps to help your plant recover:

  1. Monitor the growth cycle: Check if your lithops is experiencing a natural phase of new leaf growth, which occurs after the blooming season. If this is the case, old leaves should wither, eventually becoming thin and papery as the nutrients are used up by new growth. You can remove the old leaves once they become shell-like.
  2. Adjust watering habits: If underwatering is the issue, pay more careful attention to your lithops’ watering needs. Lithops require delicate care when it comes to hydration, as both overwatering and underwatering can lead to problems2. Generally, you should only water your lithops when the soil is completely dry and avoid watering during the plant’s dormant period.
  3. Ensure proper soil and container: Make sure your lithops is planted in a suitable soil mixture, such as a combination of sand and gravel. The container should have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues.
  4. Examine for disease or pests: Inspect your lithops for any signs of disease or pest infestations. If you find symptoms of infection or damage, take appropriate measures to treat the issue and protect your plant’s overall health.

By addressing the cause of your lithops’ squishiness and taking the necessary steps to promote recovery, you can help your plant grow stronger and healthier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Overwatering symptoms?

Overwatering is one of the most common reasons for lithops becoming soft and squishy. Signs of overwatered lithops include vertical wrinkles on the surface of the plant, sogginess, and sometimes rotting. It’s essential to ensure that you follow proper watering techniques, such as allowing the soil to dry between waterings or using a well-draining soil mix.

Saving squishy lithops?

If you find that your lithops is squishy due to overwatering, there are a few steps you can take to try and save it. Firstly, cease all watering immediately and let the soil dry out. Secondly, remove the affected lithops from the pot and gently remove excess soil. If you notice any rotten areas, cut them away using a sterile knife. Lastly, allow the lithops to dry for a couple of days before repotting it in fresh, well-draining soil.

Lithops splitting time?

Lithops usually go through a process called splitting when they grow new pairs of leaves. This typically occurs after the blooming season, which is different for each species of lithops. Their old leaves will wither away, allowing the new leaves to emerge. It’s important to recognize the signs of splitting and adjust your care routine accordingly, such as reducing or stopping watering during this process.

Lithops dying reasons?

Apart from overwatering, there are several factors that can lead to the death of a lithops plant. These include poor drainage, extreme temperatures, and incorrect sun exposure. To prevent your lithops from dying, ensure that they are in well-draining soil, placed in a proper temperature range, and get adequate amounts of sunlight.

Wrinkles after watering?

While some wrinkles on lithops can be a sign of overwatering, others may indicate that the plant is thirsty. If you notice horizontal wrinkles on your lithops, it’s an indication that the plant needs water. However, remember that lithops have a unique watering schedule compared to other succulents and shouldn’t be watered too often.

Dormant lithops signs?

Dormancy is a natural part of a lithops life cycle. During dormancy, the growth rate of a lithops slows down, and the plant may not require any water at all. Typically, substrate-grown lithops have a summer dormancy, while those grown on rocks may experience winter dormancy. Some signs of dormant lithops include reduced growth, no signs of splitting, and leaves appearing slightly wrinkled. Recognizing dormancy is crucial for adjusting your care routine to avoid overwatering your lithops.

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