The Split Rock Succulent ‘Pleiospilos Nelii’

Pleiospilos Nelii Featured Image

When you thought the succulent source was drying out, another entrant comes forward to prove you wrong. But maybe you hadn’t thought you’d heard of all the available succulents; they’re too many.

The sheer number makes it impossible to know what to expect next. With all the shapes, sizes, and colors, there is always an element of surprise for succulents.

Take the split rock succulent (Pleiospilos Nelii), for instance. Tiny by all standards, yet its unique look ensures it stands out (well, if there are no pebbles around). But even with the pebbles, these succulents’ bare showy blooms larger than their size just can’t be ignored.

No wonder they’re now priced ornamental pieces in homes.

As a succulent lover, it’s only natural that you know such earth beauties. We’ve made it our responsibility to inform you of all concerning them.

Today, it’s the split rock’s turn to get known – we bet you there’s a ton. Just keep scrolling to find out.

Types Of Split Rock

The liver plant, also known as Pleispilos simulans, is the best-known type of Split Rock.

Split Rock Vs Lithops

Split rock and lithops have many similarities, and they may be confusing. The main difference between the two is in the flowering. Both plants bloom in the fall, but lithops produce one flower at a time while Split Rocks produces more than one in one election cycle.

Split Rock Succulent Pleiospilos Nelii
The split rock succulent in a green planter @so0tie

Split Rock – Scientific Classification And Description

Split rock goes by the botanical name Pleiospilos Nelii and is a native of South Africa. Its natural habitat is dry for a more significant part – arid and semi-arid areas. Besides the split rock’s common name, others that refer to it include mimicry plant and cleft stone.

The plant itself is devoid of a stem. Instead, it has between 2 to 4 opposite leaves and attains an approximate height of 3.2.

The leaves have a hemispherical shape and can grow to a diameter of 4 in maximum. They are green-grey and separated by a crack, hence the names cleft stone and split rock. A new pair of leaves forms annually.

Flowers emerge during winter from the cleft and usually turn out to be larger than the plant. The blooms are showy and come out in various colors, including orange, white, yellow, and magenta. Expect to see them in winter.

Make sure you go check out “8 Most Popular Succulents from Africa” to see what other unique succulents come from this region.

Pleiospilos Nelii Care – How To Grow a Thriving Split Rock Succulent

You want a good-looking succulent plant. That’s for sure. Here’s what you’ll need to be keen on.

1. Climatic Conditions

The split rock can be grown as an outdoor jewel in warmer regions. That’s typically USDA zones 9 to 11. Don’t worry if your area falls out of this range.

You can always grow it in a container to bring it inside as temperatures drop. The cold tends to take a toll on its general health.

2. Soil Requirements 

Since it’s a succulent plant, well-draining soil is the rule. It’s used to growing in largely dry soils in its natural home, so giving it something close will work out favorably.

And be sure to use poorly constituted soil in terms of organic matter. Again, the plant has adapted to growing in the wild over the years.

Adding sand and pebbles will sort out these two conditions perfectly.

Make sure to use a pot at least 5 inches deep, as the mimicry plant will need to flex that taproot a bit.

Learn to make your succulent soil in “How to Make Your Succulent Soil at Home“. Try it out!

3. Ideal Light Exposure

Split rock plants value those rays. Want smiling plants? Let them enjoy the full sun. But in case this is impossible, partial shade is still acceptable.

This plant must be exposed to maximum light to thrive in areas that necessitate indoor growth. Ideally, a spot near a south-facing window will be sure to meet this condition.

Make sure also to check out “Are Grow Lights Bad for My Succulents” to see if growing your succulents indoors with grow lights could be bad for your little guys.

4. Watering Frequency

Again, when you go in with the watering, you can remember the split rock’s natural habitat – the driest parts. So that means the water should be just a little to push it by.

The seasons will determine just how this little guy should be.

Naturally, the growing seasons for this plant are spring and summer. During these seasons, pause between waterings to allow the soil to dry out completely.

Come winter. Water needs would have reduced significantly, so you must reduce the amount you give. Once every few weeks is enough.

Excess water will cause the leaves to split or, worse, the whole plant to rot.

That said, you can play around with watering patterns to increase the likelihood of your plant blooming. At the onset of summer and later on, when autumn is wrapping up, you can increase the watering to once per week. You should keep at this until the night temperatures in autumn begin to come down.

Be sure also to check out “How to Care for Succulents in the Winter” to see options for taking care of your succulent plant during the colder season.

5. Fertilization

You can fertilize your mimicry plant in late fall, albeit lightly. While at it, check that your fertilizer does not have a high nitrogen amount. This will induce rapid growth, yes. But the resultant plant will be a soft target for disease.

6. Repotting

The Rock Plant is a slow-growing succulent. Therefore, it doesn’t outgrow the pot often, so repotting doesn’t have to be frequent. Though the increased size is the main reason for repotting, it is not the only one. Owing to a long time the plant may grow in the substrate, the substrate may have lost its nutrient. In other instances, a substrate may lose much of the silt, thus becoming less porous. Low porosity, as we all know, can cause the death of a succulent.

Whatever your reason for repotting is, you need to get a shallow pot, no deeper than four inches, and put the appropriate substrate. The next step in repotting is removing the plant from its old pot by first moving a blunt tool between the pot and the substrate to loosen it. Don’t worry too much about hurting some of the roots on the fringes, significantly, when the pot has outgrown the pot, it is inevitable, but the plant will recover.

 Remove the pottage gently and check for any signs of root rot and nip the sections of the roots that show any signs of it. You should then pot the plant in the new substrate, water it, and monitor it as you await its establishment.

If you are repotting this plant because it has outgrown its pot, ensure the new pot is at least ten percent larger than the previous one. Your pot should have enough drainage holes and be breathable. An unglazed terracotta pot is the best for this purpose.

7. Pruning

This plant doesn’t require too much pruning, but older branches get weak and lose the plant’s natural beauty. You should remove the weak branches as soon as flowers from the previous season fall off. If you wait too long, the branches will have produced buds for next season’s flowers.


Split Rock Succulent Pleiospilos Nelii
A young split rock succulent flowering @queeeniie

Propagation of Pleiospilos Nelii

1. Seeds

You have two options as far as getting a new baby, Pleiospilos Nelii is concerned; via seeds and by division.

You can go with this if you’re willing to wait for some time (longer than the second method below).

Soak your seeds for a full day (24 hours) and sow them in the sand. Remember to keep it light – not too much sand. Also, keep the sand just damp throughout the entire period of germination.

All of these should be done during the summer.

2. Division

You should choose this over seeds. It’s faster and a bit easier.

All you have to do is cut off a leaf from the parent plant in spring just before your split rock has brought out any new growths. And the rules as far as cutting tools are concerned still hold – they should be sharp and sterilized.

Allow the cut part to be callous before placing the leaf in a well-draining mix to root.

Need more guidance on propagating? Check out our piece “How to Propagate Your Succulents Successfully“.

3. Offsets

The rock plant produces offsets that offer you an opportunity for propagation. The offsets form when the mother plant sends roots into the soil, and other plants develop from the edges of these roots.

You can let the offset grow into an independent plant in the same pot with enough space or move it into a different pot for a new plant. You will often need to move the offset to a new pot. Allow the offset to grow until it takes the plant’s form and moves it when it has just a few branches. Put the baby plant in a pot of moist, well-drained soil and allow it to grow. An offset roots faster than a leaf, becoming a plant more quickly since it is already relatively well-formed.

Pest And Problems Of The Split Rock Plants

The good news, this tiny cutie is resistant to pest and disease attacks. So you don’t have to worry about that front.

But like any other succulent plant, rot is still a big issue. And that’s due to overwatering. So keep an eye out on how you do it if you want to grow a glowing plant (who doesn’t?).

Try our guide to “Overwatered Succulent Remedies” for tips on salvaging your succulents if overwatered.

Also, watch your fertilization and the different seasons of the year. As mentioned above, high-nitrogen feed in late fall will sure produce rapid growth but then at the cost of disease resistance (and the whole plant eventually).

Don’t also forget to read “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix It?” to see how root rot damages your succulent plant and how to fix it.

Split Rock Succulent Pleiospilos Nelii
Split rock growing in a bowl @caluclamom

Final Words

Thank you for reading with us today! Enjoyed learning about the split rock succulent? If so, you’ll enjoy our free ebooks. With these ebooks, you’ll find more detailed answers to help your succulents grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Happy Planting!

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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Posted in Succulents