Friday, 21 September 2012

7. Progress Pictures

These are just some recent pictures, a state of the nation update from the Lithops patch.

A reddish maroon L. aucampiae from Francois Hoes.

L. gracilidelineata
L. julii from Francois Hoes. Two are reminiscent of that kiku... whatsa name sort.

L. julii with nice reticulated pattern.

L. karasmontana from Francois Hoes
L. karasmontana from Francois Hoes

L. karasmontana from Francois Hoes

L. lesliei. A purplish one too – yipee! Frieda’s purple rinse?
L. salicola. A wine god red one from Francois Hoes.

Adult of mysterious parentage from garden centre. L. aucampiae me thinks.

Also of suspicious lineage. I think L. lesliei.  It has very faint peachy undertones. Interesting.
L. karasmontana. Nice reddish ones from Francois Hoes.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

6. Sowing Lithops Seeds

I prefer to sow in spring and start seedlings off with the same substrate I use for adult plants (2). To prevent it falling through the drainage holes I put a little piece of shade cloth in the bottom of the pot (1). Good results can be obtained by filling the top 5 - 10mm of the pot with fine silica sand and then sowing seeds onto that (3 - 6). After sowing I cover the seeds with a thin layer of medium sand. This allows the roots to anchor themselves quickly and easily. The seedlings stay upright supported between the medium sized sand particles. If you sow directly onto the substrate, a portion of the seeds will land on gravel particles or pieces of bark and for a Lithops seed which is so small it’s hardly visible that’s the equivalent of being stranded on a large rock. If it does germinate it will battle to anchor itself and grow.

Pour the seeds out onto a piece of folded paper (5) so that they can be drawn out into a line and swept off the paper into the pot, using a fine paintbrush. Since my space is limited I like to space seeds individually. It’s a painstaking job especially for a species like L. olivacea which has really tiny seeds but I find it worth the effort. The pot pictured is 8cm in diameter and seeds are spaced so that seedlings can reach a size of at least 5 - 6mm in diameter before they need to be transplanted. Once the seeds are in position I spray them lightly (7) just to get them stuck in place so that they don’t move around when I cover them with the medium sand (8, 9). As a precaution I apply a fungicide once after sowing. Lithops seedlings are the only thing on which I use preventative spraying and this is also the only time I will use a fungicide on Lithops.

Seeds should not be allowed to dry out until germination is complete. I spray them once a day and allow about 14 days before reducing the watering frequency. Sometimes the first tiny plants can be seen within 2 – 4 days.

1. Pot (8cm) with a piece of shade cloth to prevent substrate falling through the drainage holes.

2. Almost fill the pot with substrate. Leave the top 5 – 10mm for fine sand.
3. Top up with fine sand and level the surface. The back of a saw blade works nicely.
4. Some marks on the surface will help to space seeds evenly. The saw blade is handy again.

5. Pour seeds onto a piece of folded paper.
6. Position seeds on the surface using a fine paintbrush to sweep them off the paper one by one.
7. Gently spray the surface to fix seeds in place.

8. Carefully cover with a thin layer of medium sand.
9. Water without disturbing the surface.

10. L aucampiae 38 days (left), L. salicola 29 days (right), L. otzeniana 29 days (bottom)

11. L aucampiae 127 days (left), L. salicola 118 days (right), L. otzeniana 118 days (bottom)