Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pleiospilos nelii ~ Split Rock

Pleiospilos nelii



It took about six dead Split Rocks (Pleiospilos nelii) in about as many years for me to get the hang of keeping one alive. The specimen in the photo is my first and only surviving Split Rock out of all those tries. It is thriving, and it even flowered in 2006. The flower was a pale yellow with an orangey tinge. This plant didn’t produce any flowers this past spring for some reason, but it’s definitely healthy and thriving. One sign of good care is a firm, round, symmetrical plant with no old leaves still attached at the end of summer.


The secret to keeping a Split Rock alive, I have learned, is to control the urge to water it all year long. I water this plant lightly in the fall for a couple of months and then again in early spring, and very seldom the rest of the time. In the winter, it grows new leaves from the center of the split, and the new leaves then consume the old leaves. If the plant is over watered, the old leaves remain and the plant usually rots and dies.


I took this photo today, and as you can see, there are no old leaves left at all, which means it received the proper amount of water in the summer. I watered the plant today, for the the first time in quite some time, now that fall is beginning. Even with no watering the leaves don't shrink and prune up like some succulents do when they are not watered. The Split Rock stays plump--even after months with no water.


The P. nelii is in the Aizoaceae family, but it is not in the Lithops genus, as some believe. Lithops are similar, and they are also in the Aizoaceae family, but they are a separate genus. The Pleiospilos genus, native to South Africa, contains well over 30 species, and as far as I know, all have various degrees of speckling on the leaves. I think the Split Rock has the most attractive markings of all of them. It's just cute, and I'm glad I've learned how to properly care for it.


34 comments:

Beth said...

That is a great photo - somehow you've made it look 3-D! Also a textbook-perfect specimin. I agree, very cute!

Alice said...

That is one very unusual and beautiful plant. I'll have to look it up on the internet as I'd love to see a bigger one - assuming that they grow bigger.

RUTH said...

I see these for sale in our garden centres and always think they look fascinating and so unusual. Thanks for the info...maybe I'll give one a try.

Julie said...

That is a fascinating succulent...weird, odd, strange, and futuristic all rolled in one!!!
LOL
Glad you have figured out it's care...hope it blooms again next spring for you!!
Julie

Ottawa Gardener said...

Cool. I know nothing about succulents like this. Very interesting.

Sarah EH said...

Very nice. I just acquired one of these lovely plants tonight - I'm hoping to be able to keep it alive.

Big Dave Smith said...

Awesome little plant! I found one in the garden center at Lowes last night which was so large, I just had to get it. I've seen lots of split rocks before, but this little guy is just over three inches across!

I just hope I can take care of it!

Anonymous said...

Yea I've had one for about 3 months and now during the summer it has 3 leave, one i had to take out because it was all rotten and the other one is close to the same condition. Then I have the another pair of leaves growing in the center, can anyone help me and tell me what to do...

grayrulzu2@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

This plant is really unique; it's the first one I've ever had. Some people call it "ugly", but I think it's cool. Our neighbor got it for me, and when we got home, my Mom and I looked up on the Internet how to care for it. Thanks for your help!

Aiden - 10 yrs old

Melisa in Zachary, LA said...

I bought one of these for my son last month. It seemed really dry so we watered it. Now the old leaves on the side seem soggy and mushy. Do you think that is a result of the water, or is that what happens to the old leaves? I hope we haven't already killed it. It is a cute plant. He loves it!

Aiyana said...

The best thing to do is just wait to see if the old leaves absorb themselves and shrivel away. If it was overwatered, the whole plant will just rot away after awhile. These plants need very little water each time, so if it was drenched, it could have overwelmed the plant. Good luck. If the rot starts, there's not a thing to do. Unfortunately, these are not the easiest plants to keep, and usually cause disappointment because there are so sensitive.
Aiyana

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

These plants do really well in a mixture of sand and dirt with a bit of small pebbles. That creates great drainage so the plant doesn't gorge itself on the excess water in the soil.

Susan said...

Such a cute little plant. Brought it to the office and it is in a window with the morning sun. And it flowered - was so excited. Everyone is watching this little strange plant. What happens when the flower starts to die?

Aiyana said...

The flower just dries up like any other, and the plant continues its cycle of consuming the old leaves and forming new ones. Do not pull off the drying flower--just let it be. I agree these are fun plants to watch going through their cycles, and it's a thrill when they thrive, something that is not all that common.
Aiyana

Anonymous said...

Mine died! I watered it too much I think but it had some leaf left before it sprouted a new one so I think that the store didn't rake care of it. Well time to try again! :(

Anonymous said...

I have had mine for over a year now. I didn't know how to care for it until I stumbled upon your posting, and so I stopped watering immediately!! Thereafter, it spawned a new pair of leaves with a tiny bit if what looked like maybe rot or fungus. NO more water for several months! Then bigger, newer leaves grew well, and then this fall, 3 flowers sprouted! The "new" leaves look large and healthy, but the old shrively leaves are still attached. My question is: can i gently remove the old not completely shriveled leaves, or must I leave well enough alone?

Aiyana said...

I would leave well enough alone. The plant should continue to consume the old leaves, even if dry. If you start pulling, you could damage the split rock's surface. Other than looks, the old, truly dry leaves won't cause problems. It's only the old leaves that are soft and mushy that don't seem to be being consumed by the split rock that bring on problems. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I bought this plant two days ago at Home Depot. I took it home and, after reading this, nooticed my plant still had THREE shriveled up leaves on the bottom! Should i remove them? Because I think the leaves are stopping the plant from growing. Thank you. :)

Aiyana said...

Anonymous,
This is the comment I left for a previous reader:
I would leave well enough alone. The plant should continue to consume the old leaves, even if dry. If you start pulling, you could damage the split rock's surface. Other than looks, the old, truly dry leaves won't cause problems. It's only the old leaves that are soft and mushy that don't seem to be being consumed by the split rock that bring on problems. Good luck!

Aiyana

Anonymous said...

The old leaves ARE soft and rotten-looking.Should I be worried?Because there are medium-sized white spots on the old leaves. The good thing is that its starting to bloom though. That makes me happy!

Aiyana said...

At this point, if it is rotting, it's too late to do anything. Enjoy the bloom, and just wait and see what happens. Do not water for awhile. These plants need very little water each time. Split Rocks are not easy to grow. I think if you do not have good luck with this one, move on to an easier plant. It's frustrating to keep trying. It could be a variety of things--light, weather, watering, etc. and it's hard to pinpoint what happened.
Aiyana

Barbara said...

i bought one of these the other day.it is in a very small pot,do i need to transplant? if so how and into what?thank you....

Aiyana said...

Barbara, these a slow growing plants and will never need a very large pot. I would leave it in its current pot for a couple of years. It takes a long time for it to outgrow the pot.
Aiyana

Anonymous said...

Hi I was thinking about buying some split rock succulent plants. I think they look cool but I here that they are hard to grow. Should I buy them? I also wanted to get other types of succulents. Not cacti. I already have five that I purchased about a week ago. I am going to get some soil for them this weekend and the granite pebbles for the top part. I also wanted to get the plants called Jade Fingers, they are the ones that look like Shrek's ears. Well I hope I can get some information back. Thanks.

Aiyana said...

You won't know until you try. I would start with one unless you don't mind spending the money not knowing if they will do ok. I'm not sure what kind of info you are looking for. Finger Jade info:

Family: Crassulaceae (krass-yoo-LAY-see-ay)
Genus: Crassula (KRASS-oo-la)
Species: Ovata (oh-VAY-tuh) meaning egg-shaped
Common Name: Finger Jade, Money Tree, Dollar Plant & Jade Tree
Exposure: Bright Light/Sun
Height: To 4 feet Plus Tall
Bloom: Fall/Winter
Hardy to: 32 degrees
Water: When Dry
Crassula are best grown in USDA Zones 9b - 11
Makes a good houseplant. Also used for Bonsai

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I think I have over watered already. It is laying a little flat and feels mushy. I wonder if it can recover. ???
Thanks for the info, I may have to start over with a new one.

Aiyana said...

Very doubtful it will recover. It is probably in the process of rotting. Just remember, the most common reason for cacti and succulents that are potted is to die due to rot from overwatering.
Probably 95 percent of both cacti and succulents should be watered only when dry. First thing I learned when I started desert gardening. Thus, the name of my blog--Water When Dry.
Aiyana

Brenda said...

I saw one of these for the first time at Lowes, thought it was so cool I had to have it. Now I'm wondering how big they get and should I replant it into a larger pot. The one it came in is tiny. I have only watered once in the month that I've had it and it seems to be doing well so far. Thanks for the helpful info on this site.

Aiyana said...

Split Rocks do not get very large but they do get a long tap root, so eventually the container should be about 4 inches deep to accomodate. i wouldn't bother transplanting yet--let in acclimate to your environment for a few months. Just remember, don't overwater! The plant should not have more than 2 leaves. The old leaves should be consumed and dried up. Don't mess with them. Overwatering will cause rot!
Aiyana

Anonymous said...

Aiyanna, thnx for your diligence on your blog. I've read your and others' posts about Split Rock, which focus on water and container size. What about sun? In Phoenix do you grow in full sun? In summer? Here in Sonoma-land we have a dry summer and wet winter; could I over-winter outdoors? Also, what about year-round inside in a bright window? /Mike

Aiyana said...

Here in Phoenix, light shade in summer is a must. I would say the majority of serious collectors overwinter the Split Rock indoors in a bright room, bring them out in spring, and keep in light shade during the summer with minimal water. This is a winter grower. If you have a wet winter, I'd certainly be careful of overwatering in a wet winter. Hobbyists grow these in a bright window year-round.
Aiyana

Anonymous said...

Pleiospilos N.E. Br. Now reduced to 6 specific species. Mostly summer growers (spring/fall), most species blooming in late fall, nelii is the exception flowering in mid to late winter, flowers are borne on the new leaf-pair which coexists with the old for several months. nelii needs some moisture all winter long. All can tolerate full sun and severe drought. An attractive hybrid with Tanquana hilmarii shows promise and a purple flowering, red bodied P nelii has been developed in Japan.

Maurine said...

I too have had several of these fascinating plants, but they have always died. Unfortunately, I must have overwatered as the care instructions said to water when soil is dry. Even though I watered very sparingly, it must have been too much.

I live in Pennsylvania, so I keep my plant indoors all year. Do you have any special recommendations for my situation?