Conophytum Calculus: Easy Care And Growing Tips

conophytum calculus

Last updated on June 25th, 2022 at 07:06 pm

Conophytum calculus, also known as living stone plants or rock plants is native to the South African succulent region. These species have a unique growth pattern of splitting into two new conophytum when they come in contact with each other. The plant’s conical shape originates from its stem that thickens at one point and then splits off into two sections, which form the body of the conophytum.

Once split, these pieces will grow roots on their undersides and continue growing where they broke apart by forming another cone shape above ground level; this process is called offsetting. Conophytum can produce offsets up to five times in their lifetime.

What is Conophytum calculus?

conophytum calculus

Conophytum calculus, also coniferous rock plant or wide neck conophytum is a member of this genus and species with the widest range in color. They are identifiable by their green to the blue-green body, covered in white spots that cover less than 75% of its surface area; they have thin leaves that grow outwards from the stem instead of upwards like other plants – this unique growth pattern provides protection from sun exposure on hot days since it can’t be easily seen from above ground level (and thus lighter).

Conophytums are very quick growers when given bright light and ample water sources for healthy soil – a single conophytum may produce offsets up to five times in its lifetime.

Origin and description

The genus Conophytum was created in 1829 by N.E. Brown and is endemic to South Africa, where it can be found growing naturally in the winter rainfall region of the southwest part of the country at elevations between 1000-2000 meters above sea level with a very small portion being native to Namibia as well.

There are over 130 species of Conophytum, all of which are quite small and most have thickened leaves that act as water reservoirs.

Many also feature excellent adaptations to the dry conditions they live in such as capitate trichomes (tiny hair-like appendages), powdery epidermal wax covering their bodies for protection against both desiccation and ultraviolet light, the ability to close their stomata during periods of drought, narrow tubular leaves that allow them to retain water by minimizing evapotranspiration, root structures that are capable of storing moisture even when submersed for prolonged periods in order to survive through dry spells.

At least two species have spines on their leaves, which is unusual for the genus.

The name Conophytum comes from two Greek words meaning “with a small swelling” and refers to their habit of storing water in these swollen leaves.

Conophytum calculus was first described by Haworth as Mesembryanthemum calycinum in 1830 but not given its own genus until 1842 by J.D. Hooker, who placed it in its own Conophytum based on the enlarged and capitate anthers of this species (the most notable feature).

Conophytums - 4 Amazing Growing Conditions For The Plant

Until recently, all members of this genus were lumped together under one name or another but more modern research has given us two distinct sections of the genus to recognize based on their appearance and geographical location. As such, Conophytum calculus has been placed in its own separate section: Conophytum.

Conophytum calculus propagation

conophytum calculus

Conophytum calculus has long been known as among one of the most difficult succulents to propagate due to its high mortality rate during propagation attempts (in contrast with other more easily propagated genera such as Sempervivums).

It can only grow vegetatively if re-potted by cutting off at least one-third of an established rosette and replanting it in fresh soil. Cutting off conophytum from its parent rosette can be done anytime, but it is best to wait until the plant has matured and stops producing flowers before propagating them – this could take up to three years.

Propagation is most often accomplished by division. This can be done in both spring and fall, though conophytums should never be divided while they are actively growing or flowering. In warmer climates, this means that conophytum calculus propagation may take place from early September through late November.

This technique also works well with conophytums grown as houseplants because the leaves will wither away on a plant’s lower branches when it has been indoors for too long

The division is accomplished by cutting conophytum calculus stems with a sharp, clean knife. Plants may be divided into as many parts as desired so long as each part has at least one leaf on it (though conophytums can also be propagated from the root crown).

All conophytum calculus divisions should have ample room for growth and sunlight; in general, this means allowing about 12 inches between plants to ensure that they will not crowd together or grow too close to other plants.

Conophytum calculus care

conophytum calculus

The conophytum calculus requires well-drained, sandy soil. It can be propagated by parting the two plants in late spring or early summer to produce single conophytums each with their own root system and then planting them into separate containers separately. Seeds can also be collected from unopened flower buds after they have been pollinated in winter as this is when new conophytum flowers are formed.

Simply collect the seed pods that will form on parent conophyti plants. Once harvested dry out for about 24 hours before cleaning of any chaff and sowing at room temperature between September and November so that germination occurs over autumn through to Springtime (or whenever conditions suit)

Light requirements

Conophytum calculus prefers filtered sunlight. This means that conophytums should not be placed where they will receive direct, intense sunlight as this could burn the leaves of conopyhts.

Conophytum pellucidum subs. cupreatum

Also, if you place your plants right up against a window (without any leaves or branches to obstruct the light) they might be able to get more direct sunlight. Just make sure that it’s not too hot or sunny where you live, especially if your conophytum has thin leaves because these plants burn easily in the bright sun!

Soil/potting mix

The conophytum calculus grows in a very specific soil type. It is commonly grown on dark, decomposed organic matter and sand with a layer of limestone chips or gravel at the bottom. This plant will thrive in lime-free soils that have low clay content, such as cactus mixes.

There is a large variety of soil mixes and potting soils that can be used for conophytums. It’s best to choose one that does not contain too much organic matter, such as bark or peat moss – these will break down into nutrients that the plant won’t like.

If you can, it’s good to choose a mix that is sterile – this means there are no fungi or bacteria in the soil.

The best way to accomplish this is by either using pre-mixed cactus soil (that has been sterilized), selecting out the soil in an already-sterilized potting mix, or sterilizing your own.

The last option is to use a bag of topsoil from the hardware store (not Miracle-Gro). It may contain beneficial fungus that helps break down organic material into nutrients for the plant.


The conophytum calculus needs to be watered regularly. The water should always drain out of the pot, which means that you have to use a drainage tray underneath your plant at all times. If there is no drainage available, then it will need to be watered less often and in small amounts so as not to cause root rot.

In order for this plant’s foliage coloration not to fade due to over-watering or being too dry, it is important that they are kept evenly moist but never wet during periods of active growth after repotting them into fresh soil mix every year if necessary (see propagation). It also does well when grown outdoors where irrigation can provide regular moisture levels instead of having to rely on rain alone.

The conophytum does best when grown outdoors where irrigation provides enough moisture for the plant without having to rely on rain alone due to their roots consisting of dense mat that needs more frequent watering in comparison with other genera such as Sempervivums.

This conophytum’s blooming period lasts up to six months – during this time you should water less often than usual because the soil remains wetter indoors.


This conophytum calculus has a long blooming period that lasts for about six months. During this time, it should be watered less often because the soil will stay wetter and more humid in an indoor environment which is not where they are typically seen in nature.

Conophytum Pellucidum

The conophytum calculus can also bloom indoors if you position them near a sunny window or grow lights to provide enough light during their dormant periods when they do not need any water but instead require moisture from humidity levels created by artificial means.

You can increase your conophytums’ chances of flowering by trimming off its new growth tips before the plant begins to produce flowers – it may take up to three years before there’s another full-fledged flower.


The conophytum calculus does not require fertilizing as it grows in nutrient-poor soil and is drought tolerant. However, when the plant begins to flower during its dormancy period you may want to apply a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 12-12-12) on top of the potting mix or limestone chips at about one-quarter strength once every two months.


Conophytum calculus requires a range of temperatures and light levels. They can be kept between 25°F – 75°F (13°C – 24°C) during the day, as well as full sun to part shade for approximately five hours per day.


Humidity is a very important factor in the growth of conophytum calculus. If you can get your hands on an ultrasonic humidifier, this will be great for keeping humidity high during dormancy and winter months when the plant receives little rainfall. During the summer months, try to keep it out of direct sunlight as scorching temperatures combined with low humidity can cause the plant to wilt. Of course, just like any other houseplant or succulent that does well in humidity – misting it with a spray bottle will also help!

15 – 20% humidity is ideal.


conophytum calculus

The conophytum calculus should be repotted every year which is when the plant stops blooming. This conophytum’s root system consists of a dense mat, so it needs to be carefully detached from its container and spread out in order for moisture to reach all parts evenly after being placed into fresh potting soil or you risk losing it.

It needs a very specific type of soil that does not contain lime, such as cactus mix or dark decomposed organic matter mixed with sand, limestone chips or gravel at the bottom for proper drainage.

It also requires frequent watering (and water should always drain out) so it’s important you use a tray underneath your conophytums if there are no drainage holes available where they’re being grown, or alternate between less-frequent watering when active growth takes place and more regular moisture levels when conophytums are dormant.


The conophytum does not need to be pruned as it grows in nutrient-poor soil and is drought tolerant.


Conophytum calculus also needs at least one month of winter dormancy when temperatures are cool (less than 50 degrees F) and no water is given during this time. During their dormant period, they can be kept in complete darkness or even inside a closed paper bag so that they don’t dry out or freeze.

Conophytum Breve Care And Growing Tips

During dormancy, keep them dry and water sparingly, if at all. The leaves will shrivel up as a result of their natural drought resistance mechanism. Once new growth appears in spring or summer resume normal watering habits – but remember that the growing season is short!

Flowers & Fragrance

The flowers are actinomorphic (radially symmetrical with six petals) and display colors ranging from white to pink, yellow, orange, red, or purple. They can be solid in color or striped/mottled on the inside of the corolla lobes.

Growth rate

Conophytums are slow growers, but larger plants can put on a few new leaves per season.

Hardiness zone

The conophytums calculus is native to South Africa, which is located in the zone area of USDA hardiness zones 11 and 12.


The conophytums calculus is non-poisonous to both humans and pets.

Pests and diseases

Conophytum calculus is very susceptible to pests and diseases, including rot, aphids, and whiteflies.

One of the biggest problems for conophytum calculus is root rot. Root rot can be caused by overwatering, but may also occur due to a cold environment or wet soil conditions without sufficient drainage. Overwatering combined with poor air circulation creates an ideal breeding ground for fungal spores and other harmful organisms such as nematodes which may lead to the plant’s demise.

Mealybugs are also an issue for some conophytum calculus owners, especially if proper care isn’t taken in their early stages of life. Mealybugs can be treated with a mix of dish soap and oil which suffocates them on contact or by using insecticidal soaps that will also have a lasting effect.

Another common pest for conophytum calculus is the mealybug destroyer, or Cryptolaemus montrouzieri. Mealybug destroyers are small beetles that eat only mealybugs and will leave your plants alone if there aren’t any around to feed on. They can be purchased from most garden stores.

Conclusion on conophytum calculus

Conophytum calculus is an attractive house plant that will provide you with years of enjoyment. It requires very little care and can be propagated quite easily, but if not taken care of properly or exposed to certain conditions may begin dying off due to root rot, mealybugs, and other pests which lead to a slow death.