Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 07:17 am
Conophytum bilobum, also called the living pebble succulent, is an amazing type of succulent native to South Africa. Similar to other types of succulents, it can be grown in full sun or partial shade, making it suitable for many different locations throughout the year.
It’s also one of the rare succulents that prefer dry conditions over moist ones, making it great for people with a low tolerance for watering their plants regularly.
The living pebble succulent plants are one of the larger members of the Aizoaceae family, which consists mostly of succulents from southern Africa, Madagascar, and neighboring islands.
Conophytum bilobum lives in subtropical or tropical climates in sandy flats with little or no vegetation and loose sand dunes where they are often one of the few plants that manage to grow in the harsh environment with summer temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit and freezing temperatures during winter, sometimes falling below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Origin and distribution
Conophytum bilobum is a member of the Aizoaceae family. The genus name conophytum means cone-like and refers to the plant’s seed capsule which forms a cone, while bilobum translates as two lobes. Conophytum bilobum is indigenous to Namibia, Northern Cape Province in South Africa, and southern Angola.
It occurs in exposed areas of Kalahari Sand Grassland and Karoo shrubland biomes. In its natural habitat, it grows on rocky hillsides, slopes, and flats at elevations from 300 m to 1200 m above sea level.
This particular species can be found growing in clusters or alone with other members of its genus. Conophytum bilobum has been introduced into cultivation since 1891 where it has become one of the most popular succulents in horticulture.
The unusual leaves are shaped like an inverted teardrop and are pale green with a dark purple margin. The leaves are covered by translucent hairs that give them a frosted appearance when young but these disappear as they mature, leaving behind shiny leaf surfaces marked by reddish-brown spots caused by sunburn damage during periods of intense sunlight exposure.
Conophytum bilobum propagation
Conophytum bilobum are slow-growing, hardy, and easy to cultivate. Growing succulents from cutting is a common way to start a new plant. The two most popular kinds of succulents, leaf and stem succulents, are propagated in different ways. Leaf succulents can be propagated by taking leaves and sticking them in soil or by transplanting them into other types of soil.
Stem succulents generally have limited growth. Instead, they produce offsets that grow along their stems. To propagate these plants, you’ll need to carefully remove an offset with a sharp knife and then replant it in a separate container filled with soil.
Over time, your original plant will continue to produce more offsets and eventually fill up its pot. Then you can either repot your original plant or move one of its offspring.
Conophytum bilobum care information
One of my favorite types of succulents, Conophytum bilobum plants, are as interesting in their care as they are in their appearance. In order to grow a healthy specimen, you must allow it to be exposed to some sun and heat during its dormant period (which is usually during winter).
As you may know, succulents love heat and sunlight but do not thrive in drought or cold weather; thusly, it’s important to give them these things only during dormancy.
These stunning succulents require direct sunlight. Find a sunny spot and move them if they are in inadequate light. They will also grow in indirect or full shade, but their colors won’t be as vivid as when they’re in direct sun.
They do not like fluorescent lighting very much, so don’t put them under lights indoors to avoid stunted growth and paler coloration.
You can also place your plant in an area that does not get direct sunlight for long periods of time. This will ensure that your succulent does not burn from too much sun exposure.
Conophytum bilobum enjoys acidic soil, so make sure your potting mix is on the alkaline side. A mixture of 50 percent peat moss, 25 percent perlite, and 25 percent sand is a good starting point for your Conophytum bilobum soil.
Ideally, you want to avoid any kind of synthetic or chemical fertilizer in your potting mix. Natural fertilizers like bat guano or worm castings can be mixed into your potter’s mix for added nutrients and reduced watering frequency.
Watering the living pebble succulent
This can cause root rot, which is often fatal. They should be watered thoroughly and allowed to dry slightly between watering (although you might have to increase your frequency if you see that they’re drying out very quickly).
Conophytum bilobum also stores water so they may need less frequent watering during winter when growth slows down.
Conophytum bilobum doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer and is hardy enough to withstand most fertilizers, but over-fertilizing may cause spotting or even death. It’s important to find a balance between not enough fertilizer and too much fertilizer.
If you have applied too much fertilizer, remove some soil from around your Conophytum bilobum and leave it out in the sun for an hour. This will help dry out any extra fertilizer that has been absorbed by your plant. After an hour, water thoroughly to wash away any excess fertilizer that has not been absorbed by your plant.
Then resume normal watering practices until you notice new growth on your Conophytum bilobum. This will indicate that all excess fertilizer has been washed away and is no longer being absorbed by your plant.
Some conophytums do not like hot temperatures. Conophytum bilobum is one of them. It prefers temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees F. If you live in a region with very hot summers, then it would be wise to keep your plant indoors or under a shade cloth during these times.
Conophytum bilobum grows best in humid environments. Try misting your plant daily. Do not overwater them or allow them to become submerged in water, as they will likely rot and die.
These little guys are very resilient and prefer soil that is not too wet or too dry. If you’re keeping them inside, place them near a source of light such as a sunny window and allow them to sit on a small tray filled with pebbles, allowing excess water to drip down into another container underneath for reuse.
The ideal humidity range is between 40 and 80 percent. A good way to check if your plant needs more water is to feel its leaves; if they are dry, it’s time to water. If you’re growing your conophytums outside, keep them in a well-drained area that gets plenty of sunlight.
Pests, pests, pests! It’s not uncommon for conophytums to attract spider mites and mealy bugs, especially when not grown indoors or in a greenhouse. These pests can quickly destroy an entire pebble succulent garden if left untreated.
Fortunately, it’s easy to control both of these organisms by simply applying a systemic insecticide spray to your conophytums garden every two weeks throughout fall and winter.
This is also a good time to check for any signs of disease on individual plants. If you notice that one plant has become infected with powdery mildew, treat all plants with fungicidal soap as soon as possible.
Afterward, remove any diseased leaves from each plant before they have a chance to infect other parts of your collection.
When to repot
Conophytums bilobum are like a lot of other plants in that they can grow quickly and begin to outgrow their pots after a couple of years. Repotting them is done when their roots become pot-bound, which happens when you see many small roots filling up most of your pot.
This means it’s time for a bigger one! When repotting conophytums, be sure to use cactus soil or something similar instead of regular potting soil. Cactus soil drains well but still retains moisture, so it’s perfect for succulents.
As with all succulents, Conophytums bilobum has a dormancy period in winter that is triggered by a drop in temperature. During this time, water and nutrients are withdrawn from leaves and stems, forcing dormant buds to grow into active growth points where they can enter spring as full rosettes.
During dormancy you will notice little change in leaf color or appearance; however, if temperatures dip into freezing you may need to provide protection for your plant indoors.
If overwintering outdoors it’s best to keep plants dry through late fall and early winter when there is less danger of frost damage.
Conophytum bilobum flower & fragrance
The star-shaped yellow flowers are about 1 cm in diameter. The flowers are pollinated by a number of flies, but their scent is too faint to attract human noses.
Conophytum produces two main scents: a musky death smell released when they’re stressed, such as during drought, and a sharp lemon scent released when they’re happy and healthy. The exact nature of these smells isn’t well understood but seems to be unique to each species.
It is slow-growing but readily propagated by leaf cuttings and root division. The plant produces offsets that form clumps after reaching maturity. In summer, roots develop from leaf nodes at or below ground level to produce more plants via stolons.
Because of its modest growth rate, conophytum bilobum makes a good candidate for growing in windowsill containers as a houseplant in temperate regions. During winter dormancy, water only when soil becomes completely dry to prevent rot from occurring on young roots.
Conophytum bilobum, also known as Living Pebbles or Money Plant, has not been reported to be toxic or harmful in any way. Be aware that handling any plant or succulent can cause minor skin irritation if sap gets on your hands; wash thoroughly and try not to handle too many plants at once.
The same goes for your pets and children, who should always be supervised around newly-purchased plants; washing their paws after a pot-planting expedition is recommended.
USDA hardiness zones
Conophytum bilobum thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. In zone 10, it can be planted outdoors year-round. In zone 11, it can be left outside during warm months and brought indoors during cold weather. It is not recommended for growing outdoors in zone 9 or lower because of its sensitivity to frost.
Pests and diseases
Conophytums, like many other succulents, are prone to aphids. Aphids will often congregate on new growth and where there is abundant sap present. While not a serious problem, an aphid infestation may cause spotting or stippling of new growth and even deformation in severe cases.
Other common pests include mealybugs and scale insects. Mealybugs tend to hide underneath leaves whereas scales usually form as hard bumps on stems and leaf joints.
Conophytum bilobum is a small, low-growing living pebble succulent that develops a few fat roots in time. This means you don’t have to worry about it. The roots aren’t just for photosynthesis: They also store water, which means you can leave your living pebble succulents outside and they won’t dry out over winter.