Rock Plant

rock plant

What is the Rock Plant?

Pleiospilos nelii, also known as “Living Stone,” is a succulent non-cactus plant from South Africa. This plant is formed by 1 or 2 pairs of hemispherical leaves separated by a slit and is very fleshy. They are greyish green in color and are dotted with dark spots. These juicy leaves can reach 4 inches in height and exist in two different varieties; the most common being the green ones with dark spots and a stranger variety is the leaves of a violet color. The latter offer flowers separate from the common yellow ones usually seen in Pleiospilos nelii, which are pink in color.

rock plant
By Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia

The flowering and pollination of the Rock Plant

The “Living stones” produce flowers that can be yellow, orange, or pink depending on the plant’s class. These arise solitary through the aperture of the leaves and open afternoon. Its flowering time is from mid-summer to late autumn, being possible that it occurs in early winter in a warm climate. When it’s time for our Pleiospilos nelii to flower, it tends to attract bees peculiarly since its flower is full of pollen. This pollen makes it the preferred target of the bees. And during this time, it’s easy to get seeds thanks to pollination.

Growing conditions

Rock Plant-Growing conditions-Soil-SC


Pleiospilos nelii can grow correctly in nutrient-poor, mineral, and highly porous soil without any problem. This soil must have excellent drainage, and it is advisable to make our homemade substrate. An ideal mix for our “Living Stone” would be loose garden soil, coarse sand, and a little charcoal, the latter intended to function as a natural fungicide. Thanks to the fact that this plant is small in size, reaching 2 inches when grown indoors, it’s usually kept in pots or planters with other succulent plants, either indoors or on balconies and terraces.

If you want to grow in a pot, another option for the substrate we can make at home is a mixture of pumice, gravel, and black peat. Because it has small leaves that are not abundant or extensive, it can be easy to lose along with vegetation. So if you want to keep it in the garden, it’s best to keep it together with other plants of similar size or bordered with rocks to prevent a larger plant from consuming it. In these cases, it’s also vital that the land has good drainage to avoid any water accumulation in our plant.


The Rock Plant can grow and thrive in an environment with exposure to direct sunlight. Still, it should be exposed to full sun during the morning hours, and in the middle of the afternoon, during noon, the best is that it is covered with a slight shadow since it can develop burns on its leaves if it is exposed to an extreme Sun for prolonged periods. Suppose we grow it as a houseplant and want to take it outside. In that case, it is imperative that we gradually accustom it to direct solar exposure. If its environment changes from a shady and cool one to a sunny and warm one, it can suffer from dehydration and leaf burns.

Rock Plant-thrives in full sun but needs care of not overwatering-SC
Rock Plant thrives in sun: IG@theemeraldleaf

Climate and temperature

Since Pleiospilos nelii is a plant native to warm temperatures, it is best for its development to keep it in a cool or warm climate, but not cold. The ideal temperatures for her are between 59 and 79ºF. The temperature mustn’t drop below 41ºF since the “Living Stone” is not a plant that can withstand low temperatures. It is sensitive to cold, frost, and hail that can damage its leaves significantly. Therefore, it’s best to keep it indoors during winter times, in a warm spot where it can receive enough light.


Pleiospilos nelii are very resistant to drought plants. So, their waterings should not be abundant or constant. Watering is necessary only when the substrate is completely dry or leaves begin to wrinkle. During the cold seasons at the end of autumn and winter, it’s necessary to water it approximately once a month. We will even have to suspend watering entirely to avoid any root rot in our “Living Stone” and that it can initiate a hibernation process. If it’s inside our home in a pot and has a saucer underneath, we cannot forget to remove the excess water regularly, since it attracts pests and can rot our plant.

Rock Plant-Fertilization -SC


The fertilizer of our Pleiospilos nelii can help it thrive. Still, it’s essential to remember that the fertilizer’s objective is that it’s beneficial in being attacked by some pest or disease. The growth of our “Living Stone” will not be affected by the fertilizer; in the case of being a young plant, it’s possible that it can develop its leaves more quickly, but this is almost invisible. The best times to pay it are the beginning of spring or early summer. We must use a liquid fertilizer of cactus or succulents, following the instructions carefully, not to induce an overdose. This plant only has two or three fleshy leaves, and it does not need any pruning; we have to be vigilant when its flower wilts and remove it.

Rock Plant-Watering and Multiply-SC
Image: Reddit@u/Vonk_Y

How to multiply the Rock Plant

We can multiply our Pleiospilos nelii through seeds planted during the spring. The way to get these seeds at home is to use a brush to aid pollination when two specimens are blooming at the same time. We must pass the meeting over one of the flowers and immediately over the other for a few days. Thus, when the petals wither, they will give way to the fruit that contains the seeds. When we go to sow them, we must do it in pots with the recommended substrate; the bases are covered and moistened well and placed in a place with direct or strong sunlight and cool temperature. After 10-15 days, the seeds should begin to germinate. We can keep the roots for up to five years without them losing their germination properties.

Rock Plant-Taking care of the plant-SC
Pleiospilos nelii Rot Image @reddit

Taking care of the plant

The “Living stones” are plants generally very resistant to pests and diseases. However, there are some things we must take care of when taking care of this plant. For example, it’s very prone to rot or develop fungal infections if not careful when watering and overdo it. Or if it is exposed to a very constant humidity in its substrate. During its flowering times, some aphids or mealybugs may settle on its petals, but this is not a difficult problem to solve. We must look for a swab and wet it with a little alcohol. Rub carefully not to burn the plant, and those aphids will disappear. One of the biggest dangers to which it’s exposed when being cultivated in the garden are slugs and snails. These are capable of eating a whole small plant in minutes, so we must keep our Pleiospilos nelii in an outside place from the scope of these pests.