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Argyroderma delaetii- Living Rock Plant, Stone Plants

Argyroderma delaetii- Living Rock Plant, Stone PlantsArgyroderma is a genus of plants in the Aizoaceae family that sometimes go by the name of "living rocks" or "stone Plants." These succulent plants are native to South Africa and are popular among cacti and succulent plant growers for their unique shapes and colorful flowers. What appeals to most people is the fact that the plants will often resembles stones or other geological features of the land they are native too. The plants evolved to look like stones and rocks in order to evade detection and consumption by animals.

Caring for these exotic African plants can be a little tricky because they require strong sun to keep their shape and very little water. To be on the safe side they should only be watered when the leaves start to shrivel. An abundant supply of water will result in the leaves of the plant splitting like in the image above. I always have trouble keeping any of the mimicry plants alive because of their picky watering needs. I purchased this plant from Home Depot back in March where it was being sold under "The Cactus Collection" brand distributed by Altman Plants.

Over the course of the summer I left the plant to fend for itself and the benign neglect I was going for is what contributed to the plant splitting. I didn't take much care in making sure that the plant wasn't getting too much rain water and it started to split.

While the plants are producing new leaves they take needed water and moisture from their old leaves. When your plant is in a state of growth allow for the older succulent leaves to completely wither before giving any water to your plant. As the new leaves emerge and start to grow the plant resembles a turtle's head emerging from its shell.

The purple and white flowers of A. delaetii are said to be more common than the yellow flowers, though I read that on a website that was selling these succulent plants-so I accept that with a grain of salt. The plant tag that came with this particular succulent states that the common name for the plant is "SilverSkin" though Google doesn't turn up many relevant results for that name but the name Argyroderma is derived from the Greek "Silver Skin." To me the color and texture of the leaves of this living rock plant is more evocative of the color and texture of a Bottlenose Dolphin.

I haven't grown these plant myself from seed but I've read that the seed pod opens during rain and the drops of water aid in the distribution of the tiny seeds. While native to Africa these succulents can also be found growing on other continents probably as a result of human introduction. These plants can also be known by the following names: "fig-marigolds," flowering-stones," "ice-plants," "midday flowers," "flowering gems," and mesembs.

These tiny plants also play an important role in the ecology of where they grow. The fruits provide food for rodents, the flowers feed insects and the leaves provide a food source for wild and domesticated animals. Living rocks also help reduce soil erosion by stabilizing the soil, without these succulents plants many parts of Africa would be barren desert. Unfortunately their popularity has caused many of the plants that are commonly called "split rocks" or "living rocks" to be endangered in the wild. When buying them it is a good practice to buy only from reputable sources that do not collect from the wild.

Related: How to Repot Lithops "Living Stones" and How to Repot a Cactus.


  1. Beautiful ~I've never seen the bloom on a stone plant!
    Enjoy the weekend!

  2. I love these plants, though it's hard to find them sometimes at nurseries. Happily, I've never seen them with fake flowers glued to them....;-)

    1. Anonymous11:18 AM

      go to bought one . it.s blooming. I love these plants. it would be under succulents. worth the money, I only go thru them.

  3. Hi Cat,

    You have a great weekend too.


    I love them but I have a hard time keeping them alive. Do you have Home Depot in your neck of the woods? I see them more and more now that HD has been carrying the plants from Altmans.

    LOL, I'm glad they don't stick flowers on these. The other day I saw some at the store with those plastic eyes glued to them as decorations for Halloween. When I went back with the camera to take a pic they were all gone.

  4. I've had little luck with living stones, and have never tried the carniverous plants you wrote about in the latest post. However, my grandson has always been fascinated with them, and has several different varieties.
    (BTW--I posted a lengthy answer to your questions on my blog. Thanks for asking.)

  5. Aiyana,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    It is funny that you mentioned the reply. With that comment I posted I tested the "email follow up comments" option and got it in an e-mail.

  6. i just bought one of these today. It is so interesting and looks like it came from mars. Thank you for the information i will not overwater in now.

  7. Anonymous3:25 PM

    I got mine at a Lowes. It said on the tag of a one a little larger that it was also called a "Split-rock" plant.

    I bought mine and even named it!! Because of the split lobes I named him "Leonard" after Leonard Nimoy the actor who played Dr.Spock ( the hand gesture will make more sense)

    It seemed like a good plant to take with me to college..So I bought it.

  8. Derek,

    You're welcome. Good luck with your plant.

    I think it is hilarious that you named your split rock plant. Good luck to you and your plant in college.

  9. Anonymous1:54 PM

    hello i just got one and i dont know how big they are supposed to grow i dont want to put it in a pot too small what is a good size pot for them to grow and get big

  10. @Stevie, Thanks!

    @Anonymous, They don't much larger than a golf ball in size. If you lift yours and see that the roots haven't filled the pot leave it in the same pot. Or go one size up if the plant looks a little root bound.

  11. Anonymous3:24 PM

    they look like mini flowering brains tith the right and left hemisphere

  12. Mr.Brownthumb,I left youa message,but I try again.I just got a little "triplet" plant.It has 3 leaves,each is split with new growing leaf.One of older leaves is nearly gone:shrivelled and dry.I'd like to transfer from little plastic pot in to a larger clay pot.Can I safely do it now?Also,should I restart watering now or wait till Spring.I live in Toronto,Canada,Chicago climate.

    1. Sam,

      I'm not sure what you mean by "triple" are you talking about a Living Stone, AKA lithop, or one of these argyrodermas? As long as you don't disturb the roots too much, or break them, transferring them into a larger pot should be fine.



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