As any plant enthusiast will tell you, Pleiospilos bolusii, also known as the split rock plant, split rock succulent, or African living rock, is one of the most striking succulents in existence. Its thick, fuzzy leaves resemble an alien creature from Star Wars, and the markings on its stalks are incredible to behold up close.
But what makes this plant truly special is that it can survive in extremely dry conditions and doesn’t need much care at all!
The split rock plant gets its name from the fact that the leaves are sometimes split in half, revealing the pale green inner surface of the leaves.
Pleiospilos bolusii grows from 10 to 14 inches tall and up to 12 inches wide. It’s easily grown in full sun to partial shade, with average watering and regular fertilizing every two weeks. It makes an attractive addition to any succulent garden or as an accent plant in any sunny location indoors or out.
Origin and distribution
Pleiospilos bolusii is a small, split rock succulent native to the dry regions of South Africa. It’s a member of the Aizoaceae family, which includes more than 1,000 species of African living rocks. Split rock succulents are also found in Madagascar and Tanzania.
In addition to its natural habitat, Pleiospilos bolusii has been successfully cultivated in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 and beyond for many years with little additional care needed for growing indoors or outdoors.
African living rocks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all have adapted to live under extreme drought conditions that would kill most other plants.
Pleiospilos bolusii propagation
Pleiospilos bolusii is easy to propagate from seed or cuttings. To propagate from seed, simply sow the seeds in well-draining soil and water sparingly. For cuttings, take a cutting from the main plant and allow it to callous over for a few days before potting it up in well-draining soil.
A sunny windowsill will suffice as long as it doesn’t get too hot or dry. It can also be grown outdoors during summer in USDA zones 9 and 10. When the plants become too large they can be divided into smaller plants by digging them up carefully with their roots intact.
If they are planted outside, they can grow to be quite large – at least 18 inches tall – so make sure you have plenty of room! They require little attention once established but do not like having wet feet.
They prefer full sun or light shade and need very little water when established; just enough to keep the leaves from wilting.
Pleiospilos bolusii care information
Pleiospilos bolusii, or the split rock plant, is a succulent native to South Africa. It gets its name from the way its leaves are split into two distinct lobes. The plant is relatively easy to care for and can thrive in a variety of conditions.
This plant requires a lot of light to thrive. It will do best in a sunny spot, but can also tolerate some shade. If you are growing it indoors, make sure to place it near a window where it will get plenty of light. You can supplement its natural light with grow lights if needed.
This plant is native to South Africa and does best in well-draining, sandy soil. Be sure to use a mix that contains coarse sand or grit to help with drainage. You can either grow it in a potting mix made specifically for succulents or cacti, or you can make your own by mixing equal parts sand, perlite, and potting soil. Be sure to add a layer of gravel on the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.
When watering pleiospilos bolusii, be sure to give it a good soaking every couple of weeks. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. If the leaves start to wrinkle, that means the plant is thirsty and needs a drink!
Remember, this type of succulent prefers to be on the dry side so don’t overwater them. It’s best not to let your pot sit in a saucer of water for too long either as this can cause rot.
When it comes to fertilizer, pleiospilos bolusii is a succulent that does not need much. A little goes a long way with this plant. In fact, too much fertilizer can actually be harmful to the split rock plant. The split rock succulent is very sensitive to over-fertilization.
For best results, use a cactus-specific fertilizer that is high in potassium and low in phosphorus. Fertilize your plant every two to four weeks during the growing season, and once a month during the winter. Be sure to flush the pot with water after each fertilizer application to prevent salt buildup. It’s also wise to invest in a good organic or all-natural fertilizer.
The ideal temperature range for Pleiospilos bolusii is 21-29 degrees Celsius (70-84 degrees Fahrenheit). If the temperature gets too hot, the plant will start to wilt and the leaves will turn brown. If the temperature gets too cold, the plant will go into dormancy.
The leaves will lose their color and fall off of the stems. Pleiospilos bolusii can withstand temperatures down to -3 degrees Celsius (26 degrees Fahrenheit) but they won’t be happy about it!
Your Pleiospilos bolusii prefers a humid environment. If the air in your home is too dry, you can increase the humidity around your plant by placing it on a pebble tray or grouping it with other plants. misting it regularly, or using a humidifier. Letting your plant sit in water will cause root rot, so be sure to empty any excess water from the saucer after watering.
The ideal humidity range is 40-60%. A quick way to test this is to feel the leaves of your plant, if they are wet and cool, then you have achieved a good level of humidity.
Your Pleiospilos bolusii will benefit from a light pruning after it blooms. This will help encourage new growth and keep the plant looking its best. To prune, simply snip off any dead or dying leaves.
You can also trim back any long, leggy stems. Be careful not to overdo it, though, as too much pruning can damage the plant. It’s best to only do a little at a time.
When to repot
Repotting is only necessary every few years, and should be done in the spring. Be sure to use a well-draining pot and cactus mix. Gently remove the plant from its current pot and clean off any old dirt. Place the plant in its new pot and fill in around it with the fresh cactus mix.
Leave at least 2 inches of room between the surface of the soil and the top of the pot. Pack down firmly with your hands or foot and water generously after repotting.
Just like most other succulents, Pleiospilos bolusii enter a state of dormancy during the winter months. This is when the plant will stop growing and begin to shed its leaves.
During this time, it’s important to reduce watering and keep the plant in a cool, dry place. Once spring arrives, you can resume normal care. To ensure your plant doesn’t get too thirsty over the winter, try spraying or misting it with water on occasion (make sure not to get water on any rosettes).
And finally, once new growth appears you can move your pot outside into partial sun if desired.
Pleiospilos bolusii flower & fragrance
The flowers of the Pleiospilos bolusii are small and white, with a yellow center. They have a light, sweet fragrance that is reminiscent of citrus. This plant blooms in the spring and summer.
The growth rate of your Pleiospilos bolusii can be very slow. In the wild, these plants can take years to reach full size. However, with proper care, you can encourage your plant to grow more quickly. Follow these tips to help your Pleiospilos bolusii reach its full potential
Although the plant is not toxic, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. If you have pets, make sure to keep this plant out of reach, as they may be tempted to nibble on its leaves. The sap of the plant can also cause skin irritation, so it’s best to wear gloves when handling it.
USDA hardiness zones
Pleiospilos bolusii thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10-11. The plant is not frost tolerant and will lose its leaves if exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pests and diseases
One of the great things about Pleiospilos bolusii is that they’re very resistant to pests and diseases. However, there are a few things you should watch out for. If you see any mold or mildew on the leaves, remove it immediately.
Be careful not to get anything near the stem because this could kill your plant. It’s also important to keep your plant in full sun exposure all day long, which will prevent leaf rot.