How Much Sunlight Does a Lithops (Living Stone) Need?

A lithops (Lat. lithos ops) is a small plant native to southern Africa, also known as "Living Stones" because of its unique adaptation to the dry and rocky climate, where they grow together with other succulents in the hot sun. In fact, these plants require at least six hours of direct sunlight per day in order to survive and thrive.

The lithops is a succulent plant native to the southern parts of Africa. It’s also called living stone because it can look so much like a rock. The lithops is one of the most popular plants in the world, and for a good reason! They have some really interesting features that make them desirable as houseplants – they’re easy to grow, don’t need soil, and are very low maintenance. But what about sunlight? Do they need direct sunlight? If not, how long should you put your lithops outside each day?

 So, does a lithops (Living Stone) need direct sunlight? Lithops are succulents, so they do best with indirect or filtered light. You can achieve this by placing them outside in the shade of taller plants, under a tree, or near an open window. Direct sunlight will cause their leaves to turn brown and crispy.

 Lithops is an interesting plant; it mimics the rocks in its natural environment and can go long periods without water. We take a look at this succulent’s light requirements and how you can provide them with the right type of light to keep your lithops healthy.

Best light locations for lithops at home

Since lithops thrive best under indirect sunlight, choosing an ideal spot in your home is vital. You want to find a place where they will receive some light but not direct sunlight. These locations can vary depending on your home, but some good options include:

1.      Near an east- or west-facing window

This is by far the best spot for lithops in your home. They’ll get plenty of indirect light throughout the day, and you won’t have to worry about moving them around to follow the sun. It works best if the window has a sheer curtain or blinds, so the direct sun doesn’t hit the plants directly. 

A freshly watered lithop and exposed to sunlight.
It works best if the window has a sheer curtain or blinds.

Alternatively, you can place them in front of a north-facing window, though they won’t get as much light this way. Nevertheless, it’s still a better option than placing them in direct sunlight.

2.      Outdoors in the shade

If you don’t have a spot near an east- or west-facing window, placing your lithops outdoors in the shade is another great option. Just make sure to move them back indoors before the temperature drops at night.

If you live in a warm climate or mild winters, placing your lithops outdoors in the shade can be a great option. This gives you plants a chance to get some natural sunlight, and they’ll stay cool during the hotter months.

3.      Under a tree

Placing your lithops under a tree is another great option if you have an outdoor space with some trees. The trees will provide filtered light and keep the plants from getting too much direct sun. Just make sure to water them regularly since they’ll be in direct contact with the soil.

4.      On a patio or deck

If you have a patio or deck, placing your lithops is another great option. The plants will get some filtered light, and you’ll be able to enjoy them while spending time outdoors. Just make sure they’re in a shaded location during the hottest part of the day.

Lithop exposed to sunlight.
The plants will get some filtered light.

5.      In a pot with other plants

If you’re short on space, placing your lithops in a pot with other plants is a great option. You can put them in a spot that gets some indirect sunlight, and they’ll share the water and nutrients from the soil. Just make sure to water them regularly.

6.      In an Open Bright Window

If you do not have an east- or west-facing window, an open, bright window is the next best thing. This spot will give your lithops some direct sunlight, but it won’t be as harsh as if they were in direct sun all day long. Just make sure to rotate them every few days to get an even amount of light.

Lithop exposed to sunlight.
It won’t be as harsh as if they were in direct sun all day long.

7.      Indoors in a bright, sunny room

Lithops does pretty well as long as it gets access to some form of light. As such, if you don’t have a spot outside where your lithops can get indirect light, placing them indoors in a bright, sunny room is the next best thing. The source of your light can be natural or artificial, as long as it’s bright. For instance, using grow lights can be a great way to give your lithops the light they need. 

How long to leave lithops outside each day

Having settled on taking your lithops outdoors in the shade, you still have to deal with the question of how long to leave lithops outside each day. The answer depends on your latitude and the time of year.

In winter, when days are shorter, it’s best to leave lithops outside for just a few hours in the morning so they can get some indirect sunlight. As the days grow longer and the weather warms up, you can leave them outside for longer periods.

Lithops on the pot.
It’s best to leave lithops outside all day long so they can get some direct sunlight.

In summer, when the days are longest, it’s best to leave lithops outside all day long so they can get some direct sunlight. Just make sure to bring them inside at night before the temperature drops too much.

Signs that your lithops is light-deficient

Light deficiency in lithops manifests in several ways. While some of the signs can be subtle, others are more obvious. If your lithops is light deficient, you may notice that:

  • The leaves are smaller than normal – Lithops leaves are usually small, but if they start to get smaller than normal, it may be a sign that the plant is not getting enough light.
  • The plant is elongated and stretched out – Lithops will often stretch out if it’s not getting enough light. This is especially noticeable in young plants.
  • The stem turns red or purple – A healthy lithops stem is green, but if it starts to turn red or purple, it may be a sign that the plant is not getting enough light.
  • The leaf tips turn brown and crispy – This is especially noticeable on the tips of older leaves. This also happens as a result of too much light exposure.
  • The plant isn’t growing or flowering – Lithops usually grows and flowers during the spring and summer, but if it’s not doing either of those things, it may be a sign that it’s not getting enough light.
  • The edges of the leaves are curled – Usually, the edges of lithops leaves are straight, but if they start to curl, it’s time to take action and give the plant more light.

Do Lithops thrive best indoors or outdoors?

 

Lithops can thrive either indoors or outdoors as long as they get access to some form of light. However, they do best outdoors when they have access to direct and indirect sunlight. If you live in a place where the winters are cold and the summers are hot, it’s best to keep your lithops inside during the winter and move them outdoors during the summer.

Lithops on the pot.
They do best outdoors when they have access to direct and indirect sunlight.

Light requirements play a critical role in Lithops, and this explains why outdoor succulents during winter and indoor succulents during summer is the general rule. Lithops are from Africa, a continent with high-intensity sunlight most of the year.

Other care requirements for Lithops

Watering

Lithops may be adapted to desert conditions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need water. Lithops need water just like any other plant. However, you don’t want to water them too much, as that can be harmful. The best way to water your lithops is to wait until the top of the soil feels dry to the touch and then give it a good watering.

Fertilizing

Lithops don’t need a lot of fertilizer, but you can give them a little bit every few months to help them grow healthy and strong. Just be careful not to over-fertilize, as that can also be harmful. The best fertilizer for lithops is a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.

Soil

Lithops like soil that is light and sandy with good drainage. You can buy a special soil mix for succulents, or you can make your own by mixing potting soil with some sand or perlite. A good soil mix for lithops should be about 60% potting soil, 20% sand, and 20% perlite.

Temperatures

Lithops prefer temperatures that are cool to moderate. They can handle temperatures down to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but they don’t do well in hot weather. Make sure to keep your lithops out of direct sunlight during the summer months, or they may overheat.

Lithops on a heart shaped pot.
Make sure to keep your lithops out of direct sunlight during the summer months.

Propagation

Lithops can be propagated by dividing the plants or by taking leaf cuttings. Division is the easiest way to propagate lithops, and it’s best to do it when the plants are dormant (during the winter months). To take a leaf cutting, simply remove healthy leaves from the plant and place them in the soil. You should see new roots and leaves sprouting from the cutting within a few weeks.

Final Word

Ultimately, it’s important to monitor your lithops and make sure they’re getting the right type of light. Adjust their location accordingly if they start to show signs of distress, like wilting leaves or browning. This practice will ensure that your lithops thrive for years to come. You do not necessarily need to be an expert to take care of lithops. With a bit of knowledge, some trial and error, and sometimes luck, you can keep your lithops healthy and looking great.

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