Pleiospilos Nelii (plee-oh-SPIL-os) is a succulent native to South Africa with an appearance as strange as its name. The plant consists of two fleshy leaves shaped like a cracked rock. This is why the plants are also simply referred to as “split rock “.
This succulent makes for an eye-catching ornamental piece and are ridiculously easy to take care of, even for succulent standards. Their leaves are green-grey and can grow to 4 inches in diameter. The thing that makes these plants so sought after, however, are their gorgeous flowers which bloom in the winter. These flowers are slightly larger than the plant itself and come in a range of different colours including orange, white, yellow and magenta.
In this guide we’ll go over everything there is to know about growing this stunning species of succulent
Caring for a Split Rock
While Pleiospilos Nelii is a low maintenance plant you there are a few things you should know to help it grow to its full potential.
1. Temperature-avoid the cold
As mentioned earlier, these plants are native to South Africa, more specifically, to the country’s’ semi-arid terrain.
This makes split rocks best suited to survive hot weather with plenty of sunshine. The plants can’t handle the cold at all and should be brought indoors as temperatures begin to fall. It’s a good thing these plants are small and can be quickly grown in containers.
2. Light-the more the merrier
Split rocks love light and can handle the suns glaring rays head-on. To grow a healthy split rock, plant it in an area in your garden that receives the most amount of direct sunlight or a decent amount of partial sunlight.
If you’re planning on growing these plants indoors, choose a room with the most natural light. The best spot to place them indoors would be near a south-facing window, especially in the winters.
If your house is dimly lit, you can consider using a few grow lights to supplements its needs. Make sure to do your research to discover the best grow light for your grow light.
3. Water-the less the better
Split rock plants require even less water than the average succulent, which is surprising given the fact that succulents are already among the least water needy plants around.
Water these plants sparingly, according to the climate you’re growing them in, as well as the time of year. Watering should be avoided during peak summer and winter.
Also, when you do water them, follow the soak and dry method. This involves letting the soil dry before watering them again. Make sure the water reaches the draining holes at the bottom of the pot.
Overwatering is the most common cause of death among succulents. Their roots aren’t designed to hold excess water and will rot in soil that is wet for too long. This is especially true for split rocks. Look out for stacking, which is when the plant grows more than two leaves at a given time. This is unusual for the specie and is a sign that it’s getting too much water.
The Bottom line is that these are extremely drought resistant plants. You’re better off leaving them without water than accidentally giving them too much.
Soil-not just any type will do
Succulents don’t just grow in any soil. They require a type that is well-draining and provides proper aeration. Luckily, there is a wide range of succulent soils available to purchase online, so finding one for your split rock should be easy.
You can also make your succulent soil mix right at home using sand, potting soil and perlite. Remember, if the land you use for your split rock isn’t well-draining even following the right watering schedule risks killing it.
Fertilizer-simply not necessary
This is a plant that can do without fertilizer. Split rock plants grow a set of new leaves every year which replace the old ones if you don’t remove the old leaves, the succulent with using their water until they dry up and fall off. The plant will then use the dried leaves as fertilizer.
Cool right? it basically picks up after itself, which is something we should all learn to do.
Split rocks are generally pest resistant plants but may fall victim to a mealybug infestation.
The most common reason for these pests is overwatering your succulent. Excess water can cause root rot which mealybugs are attracted to.
Mealybugs usually hide in crevices and areas of the plant which are a little hard to reach. With split rocks, hiding can be hard due to the plant’s simple round design.
Even if you don’t see the bugs directly, you’ll know that they’re there if you notice a cottony web-like substance on your plant.
Before attempting to deal with a pest infection, make sure to quarantine the affected plant. You don’t want it spreading to your other plants.
To get rid of these pests, simply spray your plant with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol is fast-acting and will kill the bug pretty fast. After spraying, keep an eye out for the bugs to ensure they don’t return. If they do, just respray your plant.
Alcohol evaporates within a few minutes, so it’s unlikely to damage your split rock. However, if you do notice burns, consider using a more diluted solution.
You can also use diluted neem oil to kill the bugs. The oil is known to mess with the mealybugs’ hormones and prevent them from reproducing.
A plant insecticide can also be used but it may also end up killing beneficial insects that may be nearby.
Once your plant is pest-free, you can return it to its original spot next to your other household plants.
If you want more split rocks, you don’t have to spend a single extra penny, just propagate more. Split rock propagation can be done through two methods. Using seeds or by division.
Split grow seeds can be harvested from the flower pod or purchased online. Once you’ve got the seeds, all you have to do is soak them water for 24 hours and then plant them in a thin layer of sand. That’s it!
Make sure to do all this in summer and keep the sand damp throughout the whole germination period.
This is a much simpler process of propagating split rocks and takes a lot less time and effort.
Start by cutting off a leaf from the plant using sharp, sterilized scissors. We don’t want to risk damaging the parent plant or infecting it with pathogens. Be sure to do this in spring, before the plant witnesses any new growth.
Next, leave the cut leaf out to callous for a day or two. Once that’s done, all that left is to place the leaf in a well-draining succulent mix and wait for it to take root.
Strange and simple are the two words you can use to describe this specie of succulent. Follow the above guide, and your split rock should do just fine. With the right care and attention hopefully, you’ll get to see these plants bloom