The mimicry plants also referred to as mesembs or mimicry succulents are the thespians of the succulent world, mind-blowingly versatile stars typically accustomed to harsh, sun-blasted habitats that get just a few volumes of rain every year.
Mimicry plants grow in coarse sand by just showing their translucent head, making it possible for the sunshine to reach the inside of each plant. The remainder is underground, minimizing direct exposure to severe aspects.
Mimicry plants (living rocks) look like smooth rocks or pebbles. Their native habitats are amongst the toughest worldwide.
There are more than 120 categories of mimicry plants, or mesembs (short for mesembryanthemums), including a number of thousand plant varieties, but succulent fanatics and growers typically concentrate on a handful or 2 among them Lithops, Lapidaria, Fenestraria, Aloinopsis, Pleiospilos, and also Titanopsis.
All about lithops as mimicry plants
We know Lithops varieties specifically as “living stones” or “pebble plants” due to the fact that they look like little, rounded stones or pebbles. What appearance like rocks are plants with 2 leaves separated by a gap, or slit, from which the flowers emerge.
Even much better, Lithops types are nicknamed “butts” and also Fenestraria is nicknamed “baby toes”. Those peculiar little piggies and succulent bottoms, with split rocks (Pleiospilos spp.) and other mimicry plants, are a few of one of the most drought-tolerant plants on the earth.
Simply provide what they need, which is not all that much — they thrive in environments of brilliant light, low moisture, and little to no frost.
Below are mimicry plants we’re specifically keen on. As pointed out, these master survivors tolerate drought-like nobody’s business, however, they will certainly not stand for waterlogged soils, nor do they want soil filled with organic material.
Added pumice or perlite offers superb drainage. Water thoroughly when soil is completely dry throughout the active growing season. Some of these are rather forgiving of frost, but we advise offering security for all.
Examples of mimicry plants
Mimicry plants 1 : Lithops spp. (living rocks)
These fascinating plants can even confuse experts, as no 2 seem to be similar in appearance. Lithops are exceptionally succulent, occurring in numerous natural shades, including tans, browns, red browns, purple browns, greys, also grassy green colors, with myriad patterns as well as overlays of darker dots, layouts, and areas recognized as “islands.”.
A single body can be up to 1.5 inches in diameter and is divided by the main slit, developing the bilobed body. New leaves absorb water from the old ones, which become completely dry husks.
Lots of types ultimately create collections, and in their native habitat of South Africa, clusters gradually spread to develop colonies that can span 6 feet in size.
The green forms occur naturally in grassy locations, while the browns, tans, and various other colors happen in quartz areas. Flowers appear from August to November, depending on the types or species.
Mimicry plants 2 : Fenestraria auriantiaca (baby toes)
Don’t tip on these toes … baby toes have finger-like leaves in upright collections. Each finger has a clear “window” at the tip, as well as it is through this window that the harsh African sunlight is filtered to allow photosynthesis.
In their habitat, often just these windows show up over the quartz sand. The daisy-like flowers range in color from white to golden yellow. Needs brilliant light to prevent stretching of the leaves.
Mimicry plants 3 : Pleiospilos nelii ‘Royal Flush’
Pleiospilos nelii ‘Royal Flush’ is a cultivar with a very succulent set of wine red leaves that create a cleft, egg-like form. Whereas the true Pleisopilos nelii has a smooth golden-apricot flower, ‘Royal Flush’ has a deep rose flower with a white at the center.
Let’s talk about these ecological cards a little. ‘Royal Flush’ needs permeable soil with outstanding water drainage. It ought to not be fed with hefty nitrogen, as this can cause a surge of soft, sagging growth that can make the plant susceptible to bacterial rot.
Decomposed granite is typically an exceptional media, as it has numerous trace minerals and resembles the South African quartz areas where these grow. Provide bright light with adequate airflow.
Mimicry plants 4 : Titanopsis calcareum
Titanopsis calcareum, native to South Africa, creates rosettes up to 3 inches in diameter with semi-flattened, paddle-shaped leaves largely covered with grayish-green, pimple/wart-like tubercles. The leave tips are rather warty in look.
In its indigenous habitat, it often grows in rocky quartz fields, in soils with high sedimentary rock or limestone content. There, T. calcareum is virtually undetectable as a result of its puzzling coloring and rough structure, which successfully simulates and mimics rocks and the surrounding environment. Its flowers are daisy-like light yellow flowers with many petals. Like its mimicking relatives, it longs for intense light.
Mimicry plants 5 : Lapidaria margaretae (Karoo rose)
Lapidaria margaretae develops rosettes of highly succulent pale lavender leaves that have the look of faceted lilac quartz. Unlike lithops and their one leave set per plant, this flaunts two to four pairs of leaves. The lovely, smooth golden-yellow flowers appear during the fall months.
Decomposed granite is also an excellent medium. Provide intense, filtered light with adequate airflow. Those thick, geometric leaves appear right out of a “Minecraft”- like the world. A growing, clumped-out sampling is rather a great sight.
What Are Mimicry Succulents?
Numerous thousand plant species qualify as mesembs, yet within the succulent family just a handful of species truly stick out. Among them are favorites such as Titanopsis calcarea, or ‘Gem Plant,’ whose harsh, concrete-like leaves look like the sturdy and sandy sand of their indigenous South African habitat, or the captivating Fenestraria aurantiaca, or ‘Baby Toes,’ that grows largely beneath the soil to make sure that its rounded, low-growing leaves resemble a collection of smooth stones instead of a succulent treat for grazing herbivores.
By keeping most of their mass underground, these as well as other mimicry succulents afford themselves a good deal of protection — yet this adaptation required an additional in the type of clear “windowpanes” on the tips of each leaf, which enable light to penetrate further into the plant, therefore promoting perfect photosynthesis.
Caring for Mimicry Succulents
Talking about the harshness of their natural environments, bringing these plants into our cushy houses presents a few challenges. The most unique components of caring for mimicry succulents are three-fold:
- high light
- low tide and
- low humidity.
A few of the most drought-tolerant plants out there, the greatest threat to the wellness of these succulent varieties is overwatering. Some mimicry succulents like not to be watered at all for months at a time, rather drawing upon their very own water reserves to generate their brand-new growth.
Both Lithops salicola, whose flattened growth habit and distinctive leaf patterning resemble pebbles more than leaves, and also Pleiospilos nelii ‘Royal Flush,’ a sort of split rock succulent so-called due to its unique capability to camouflage against the granite rock of its natural habitat, exemplify this little or no water need, as these varieties and others of the very same genus wish to be watered only in the spring and autumn, with totally dry soil throughout the remainder of the year.
Therefore, a great general rule for most mimicry succulents is: when uncertain, do not water!
The one exception to this almost no water policy is the incredibly distinct Faucaria ‘Tiger Jaws’. With a dense clumping growth pattern, this plant gladly supports greater than a pair or more of leaves at a time and, while it must still be watered moderately, can be treated a lot more like a normal succulent than either Lithops or Pleiospilos.
While its pointed and lengthy leaves appear like the open jaws of a large cat, the ‘spikes’ are actually soft and safe, created to aid direct ambient dampness in towards the body of the plant in its completely dry native landscape.
This exception apart, nonetheless, something that all mimicry succulents do share is their requirement for minimal organic matter, such as peat, in their soil mix. Rather, they favor a currently fast-draining cactus mix supplemented with gritty and porous elements, such as perlite, pumice, or coarse sand. They also call for pots with superb drainage, as well as deeper pots (at the very least 3 to 4 inches) are best able to accommodate the plants’ much longer taproots.
In terms of feeding mimicry plants, you should not intend to fertilize these succulents frequently — if in any way — as they are made to thrive in austere conditions, and excess nitrogen can cause them to rapidly place on sagging growth, which will certainly incline the plant to rot.
Propagating Mimicry Succulents
Due to their slow-growing nature, mimicry succulents should not be divided until the plant is well developed and has actually begun to create a considerable clump of leave pairs.
Due to this requirement, it is extra usual to start mimicry succulents from seed than it is for lots of various other succulent varieties, though it deserves noting that it can rather take some time prior to the resulting parent plant will certainly take on its classic stone-like look.
Seeds can be bought from a trustworthy grower or collected from the plants’ flowers when they grow each year. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface of a well-draining soil mix, and keep gently moist until germination occurs.
Afterward, start to gradually decrease the regularity of watering, as you would for a more fully grown mimicry plant, and also ensure that the seedlings have access to adequate light.