Split Rock Succulent (Pleiospilos Nelii)

Split Rock Succulent Pleiospilos Nelii

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

It is the sheer number that makes it impossible to know what to expect next. With all the shapes, sizes, and colors, there is always an element of surprise when it comes to 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 – they 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. That’s why we’ve made it our responsibility to inform you of all that there is concerning them.

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

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 larger part – arid and semi-arid areas. Besides the split rock common name, others that refer to it include mimicry plant and cleft stone.

The plant itself is devoid of a stem, instead, having between 2 to 4 opposite leaves and attains an approximate height of 3.2 in.

The leaves have a hemispherical shape and can grow to a diameter of 4 in maximum. They are green-grey and separated by a sort of 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 a bit larger than the plant. The blooms are showy and come out in a variety of 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 amazing succulents come from this region.

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 so that you can bring it inside as temperatures start going down. 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 soil that is poorly constituted in terms of organic matter. Again, this is something the plant has adapted to over the years growing in the wild.

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

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

Learn to make your own succulent soil in “How to Make Your own 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 fine.

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

Make sure to also 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 can remember the natural habitat of the split rock – driest parts. So that means the water should be just a little to push it by.

Even then, 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, and that means you must cut back on 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 to bloom. At the onset of summer and later on, when autumn is wrapping up, you can increase the watering to every once per week. You should keep at this until the night temperatures in autumn begin to come down.

Be sure to also check out “How to Care for Succulents in the Winter” to see options on 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.


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

Propagation of Pleiospilos nelii 

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

1. Seeds

Well, 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 – should be sharp and sterilized.

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

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

Try these shears out for all your propagating needs!

Our Pick
VIVOSUN 6.5 Inch Hand Pruning Shears

These quality snips come with stainless steel precision-sharpened blades and are ready to tackle all of your deadheading, trimming, and shaping needs.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/22/2021 09:54 pm GMT

Pest and Problems of the Split Rock Plants

Good news, this tiny cutie is resistant to pest and disease attacks. So you don’t have to worry on 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 forget to also 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

Thank you for reading with us today! Enjoyed learning about the split rock succulent? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about “The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers“. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent 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.

Check out related articles from other rare succulents to add to your shopping list like “Blooming Beauty: Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii)” or “Cutest Succulents: Living Stones (Lithops)“.

Happy Planting! ?

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.