How to Care for Split Rock Succulents

The Split Rock succulent (scientific name: Pleiospilos Nelii) originates from South Africa and is a member of the Aizoaceae family.

It’s therefore called a “mesemb” – which translates to and means a plant that grows in the hot and arid regions and thrives in areas with poor nutrition soil. 

Regardless of what you see in pictures, split rock does not exceed more than a few inches in height.

The plant comes with two-four gray-green and at times purple leaves in a hemispherical shape.

These stone-looking leaves have a crack separating them, which is why this succulent is labeled a Living Rock Cactus. 

Other common names for the spit rock succulent are Mimicry plant, Cleft stone, or Liver plant. 

Pleiospilos nelii Split Rock Succulent
Pleiospilos nelii cactus in the garden. Split rock succulent

These succulents might be attractive plants to have in the house, but this beauty comes at a cost. They are among the most difficult succulents to maintain and grow.

Growing a Split Rock succulent may be tricky, but that’s what we are here for. 

Read on to find out how you can take care of your adorable egg-shaped succulent without hassle.

The best thing is that most succulents are non-toxic both to pets and humans, which is awesome if you are a pet lover as much as you adore tiny plants. 

Even better, these succulents are available to purchase at the most affordable prices from your favorite sellers.

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What is a Split Rock Succulent (Pleiospilos Nelii)?

Where did Split Rock Succulents Come From?

As metioned before, the Split Rock succulent (scientific name: Pleiospilos Nelii) originates from South Africa and is a member of the Aizoaceae family.

Native South African names for Pleiospilos Nelli are kwaggavy (Quagga mesemb) and klipplant (stone plant).

This succulent is also called a Mimicry Plant because to survive; the plant tends to mimic its environment. How so?

Split Rock succulents amalgamate with the soil they are planted in, creating camouflage and assuming a rocky look. 

Their natural habitat is arid and semi-arid areas, where they do best.

For these reasons, the Pleiospilos Nelii is used to the most unpredictable rainfall patterns that involve fewer water quantities.

They get most of the water seasonally and mainly from fog and condensation. 

What Does a Split Rock Succulent Look Like?

The Pleiospilos Nelii succulent looks greenish or brownish, like speckled stones with some raised dark spots. 

These stone-looking leaves have a crack separating them, which is why this succulent is labeled a Living Rock Cactus. 

A unique feature they contain is a perfect straight cleft in the middle that separates the two opposing sets of leaves. 

A Split Rock grows one or two sets of pair leaves at a time. The old leaves are automatically consumed by the new leaves each year. 

The plant might retain the old pair of leaves and the growing set if it gets enough water during the new leaves’ regenerating period. 

The spots and speckles have the function of attracting sunlight to allow the photosynthesis process. 

At full-length Split Rocks, will grow 2-5 inches in height (5-13 cm) and (3-4 inches) across. (10cm)

Do Split Rock Succulents Bloom Flowers?

Like some succulents, Split Rock succulents will flower during spring. It’s uncommon to see succulent flowers in Autumn. 

They have quite spectacular flowers – large, daisy-like, radiant, and come with a coconut smell. 

Considering the size of a fully grown Split Rock, their flowers can measure up to 7cm long (2-3 inches). 

Split rock succulents’ flowers are mainly yellow or orange. However, they can also appear as pink or white. 

Their beautiful flowers will only open their petals in the afternoons and are close up by dusk. The pattern is repeated regularly for several days until the petal dries up and falls. 

When pollinates, Pleiospilos Nelii flowers develop into a seed pod. 

Still, we have highlighted some features that can help you determine if the succulent is a Split Rock or another similarly-looking plant. What are the features?

Split Rock Succulents Are Not the Same As Lithops Succulents

When you first get a split rock succulent, you will notice they are sometimes confused with Lithops succulent plants.

This is due to the striking similarities between the two.

Nevertheless, several significant differences distinguish the two succulents.

First, a Split Rock is larger than a Lithop, and its growth style is not buried in the ground.

Secondly, a split rock also produces several flowers at once, while a Lithop will only produce one.

Purple Pleiospilos nelii - Split Rock Succulent
Pleiospilos Nelii in a Small White Pot

How to Grow a Split Rock Succulent

Growing and caring for a split rock is easy, especially if exposed to plenty of sunlight, natural light, adequate ventilation, and well-drained soil. During the growing season, the succulent will need regular watering to speedup the process. 

Climate for Split Rock Succulents

Split rock succulent plant is stemless. The Pleiospilos Nelii is a perennial and thrives best in dry, arid, and semi-arid regions with bright and unaltered light. 

It grows best during the Spring and Autumn seasons and doesn’t like cold temperatures. 

Split Rock performs best in warmer regions when grown outdoors (in 9-11 USDA regions).

Keep in mind that the Pleiospilos Nelii will not withstand cold temperatures.

It means they are best grown in containers and not in outdoor flower beds to make mobility easy. 

Suppose you reside in a cold area, you can invest in a container succulent, allowing you to bring it indoors during cold weather. 

As an aside, if you move them outdoors in warm seasons, ensure they do not get rained on. 

How Much Sunlight Do Split Rock Succulents Need?

Like most other succulents, Split Rocks only require moderate to full sun days.

While indoors, you can place them next to a south-facing window to ensure they get enough sunlight.

If that’s not impossible for you, you may need to invest in a small grow light to provide the light the plant requires. 

Types of Soils Best for Split Rock Succulents

Like most succulents, the Pleiospilos Nelii needs a well-drained soil type that’s moderately poor in organic substances and low nutrients, and a little water. 

When selecting the right soil type for a Split Rock succulent, note that they do not require soil overly rich in organic materials. The best soil type must be as similar much as possible as that from their natural habitat. We recommend sandy soil that’s not so water retentive. 

The best succulent soil type is a blend of cactus mix with pumice. You can either buy a pre-mixed succulent soil mix or If you do it yourself, use these proportions of 25% cactus mix and 75% pumice. 

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A Mineral mix can also be used, but always avoid any combination with sphagnum peat moss. It’s way too nutritious for the Split Rock.

Should You repot Your Split Rock Succulent Plant?

Split Rocks grow very slow. So you won’t need to repot your split rock succulents for years – yes, years.

However, your plant will love it if you add some rocks to the topsoil. Something like this decorative rock is the best.

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Rocks (or other porous materials) will help them feel at home. Ensure that you cover about 1/3 of the stem in the soil, leaving 2/3 outside just like a rock sits on the ground. 

But, if you have to report your split rock succulents, avoid repotting your split rock or disturb the plant during the dormant period.

When repotting you should do it before the blooming cycle. The blooming cycle occurs during early spring. 

As for the new pot, always ensure the pot is 4-inches long at a minimum and has a drainage hole.  These pots are perfect for split rock succulents.

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When and How to Water Split Rock Succulents

When and how should you water your split rock succulents in different environments, weather, or seasons?

Keep in mind that it can be hard to find the perfect conditions for a Pleiospilos Nelii because they have unique water needs.

Since they thrive nest in desert-like conditions and arid areas that et little to o rainfall at all, they require very minimal water amounts. 

Ideally, you should only water a Pleiospilos Nelii succulent in its growing period, during spring and early fall. 

Any succulent plant lover knows that the soil must always be dried before watering them.

The case is different for a transplanted split rock.

A freshly transplanted Split Rock has to be watered regardless of what season it is or temperatures at the moment. This is to encourage root growth.

If the new container’s soil is too dry, the plant will not acclimatize to the soil. 

After the first watering, let the soil dry completely before watering it again. You then resume the regular watering pattern suitable for that season. 

Some sellers and succulent plant growers tend to overwater the succulents to stimulate growth. However, this practice is unnatural for the plant and may cause it to rot. 

Do Split Rock Succulents Need Fertilzer?

Split Rock succulent kind of fertilize themselves, so they do not need external fertilizers, even in the growing season. 

A Split Rock uses the old plant leaves as its fertilizer. If the plant does not shed the old set of leaves by the end of summer, you overwatered it throughout the season. a

Some people are tempted to remove the old leaves manually – however, you should not do that as the new set of leaves use nutrients from the old falling set until they dry out.

Healthy Split Rock succulents won’t develop more than two opposing leaves sets. Your succulent split rock develops a new set of opposing leaves that replaces the old set with each passing year. 

Remember, split rock succulents do not like damp soil, and overwatering might kill the plant. 

Quick Guide on How to Propagate Split Rock Succulents

Just like for many other succulents, you can propagate the Split Rock through division or by seed.

Pleiospilos Nelii succulents rarely produce offsets, so most growers choose propagating by seeds. 

split rock succulent plant

If you choose propagation by seeds, you will need to make the harvest through propagation during summer.

As mentioned, a pollinated Split Rock flower develops a seed pod. Here are a few points to note. 

  • For best results, be sure to soak the newly sowed seeds in water for at least a day before planting them in damp sandy soil. 
  • The planting soil has to remain damp throughout the germination period. Concerning the growth of a Split Rock seed, patience is key. It can take quite a long duration before these miniature succulents sprout. 
  • If you choose to propagate your succulents through division, it must be with a sterile and sharp knife or blade. It helps to remove the clamp from the soil before the start of spring. This ensures that propagation occurs before the succulents have a chance to develop new sets of leaves. 
  • The freshly cut plant hast to be left to callus for several days. You then replant your Split Rock in well-drained high-quality sandy soil. 
split rock succulent plant blooming a flower

Note that Split Rocks have quite long roots; you need to get containers that measure up to 4 inches (8-10cm) in depth.

A succulent plant container must have drainage holes in the bottom, and you should never put rocks at the bottom of the container so that water can drain away.  

For propagation, you can even replant your succulent in an outdoor garden. Just ensure the soil has optimal drainage conditions.

Your succulent will not rot or freeze with optimal conditions and will remain happy and healthy through the growth period. 

Summary

The Split Rock is a succulent tropical native to South Africa and thrives in hot and dry areas. 

Split Rock is an adorable succulent that grows only four leaves and does not grow up to more than a few inches tall. A good thing about them is that they produce radiant and colorful flowers with a coconut smell. 

If you plan on growing them from indoor space, ensure they have plenty of light.

You also have to protect them from dampness, rain, and frigid temperatures.

Also, when watering, ensure the soil is initially completely dry. Also, make sure you have them planted in a draining pot.

Lastly, remember that split rock succulents do not need fertilizer. These plant fertilizer themselves.

If you have any other succulents, check out our comprehensive list of 63+ different types of succulents!

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