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What Are Split Rock Succulents

If you love succulents, then the split rock species is probably one of the most interesting ones you should familiarize yourself with. This succulent is actually a native plant of South Africa. Also called Pleiospilos nelii, its botanical name, the split rock succulent, is famous for having a natural habitat that is mostly dry. It can thrive in semi-arid and arid areas.

In terms of how it looks, you will notice that this succulent does not have a stem. Instead, what it has are opposite leaves (around two to four of them) that grow up to 3.2 inches in height. The succulent leaves feature a hemispherical shape, too. It is green-gray in color and comes with something like a crack, which separates them. It is why the succulent is referred to as a split rock (cleft stone, in some cases). Each year, expect another pair of leaves to form.

You will also see flowers emerging from its cleft during the winter season. These flowers that come in various colors look so beautiful that you will start believing that succulents can enrich your living space.

Benefits of Split Rock Succulents

Why should you include split rock in your succulent collection? Here are some benefits of split rock that make it work as great as the world’s best hanging succulents:

Produces Attractive Blooms

The split rock succulent produces showy and attractive blooms and flowers that are available in various colors. While such blooms only appear in the winter, you will still enjoy watching them every time they come out. Expect them to appear in white, orange, magenta, and yellow, adding more glow to your home, especially if you also own premium pink succulents as well as other nice-looking plants and flowers.

Easy to Grow

Like with the ease involved in growing succulents under the grow light, you will also discover that the split rock is straightforward to grow. You can easily grow it from seeds taken from a flower pod. Alternatively, you can purchase the seeds only. Start sowing the seeds during the summer. Do so in a warm spot, too. The ease involved in growing split rock also makes saving your dying succulent possible.

Doesn’t Require Too Frequent Repotting

Repotting your succulents as soon as you bring them home from the store is a must for many species. Unfortunately, some of them even require too frequent repotting, which will not happen if you have split rock. The reason is that split rocks can be considered slow growers, so the repotting process only occurs once every three to five years. This makes the process of caring for this succulent less troublesome.

How Do Split Rock Succulents Work

How Do Split Rock Succulents Work

As a native plant in South Africa, each rock succulent can be expected to grow a clump, producing stemless leaves. Such leaves are globe-shaped and extremely thick. However, you will also notice this succulent growing narrow cleft. You can see it at each leaf’s center. The leaves it grows are often pale, grayish-green. There are even succulent species with dark dots covering them.

Another thing to learn about how split rock succulents work is that they tend to divide the leaf along the cleft, splitting so it can reveal a gradually opening flower bud. The flowers look truly incredible. Most of them even resemble a lot of petaled daisies. 

Pros and Cons of Split Rock Succulents 


  • Easy to care for and maintain.
  • Does not require too frequent repotting.
  • Capable of producing breathtakingly beautiful blooms.
  • Resistant to the majority of pests and diseases.
  • The flowers it produces are available in various incredible colors, including fuchsia, white, orange, and deep yellow.


  • Prone to rotting if you use a rich yet poorly draining soil or water it excessively.

Requirements to Grow Split Rock Succulent

So are you interested in growing your own split rock succulents? Then note that similar to caring for fuzzy bunny ears succulents, you also need to follow certain rules and requirements when growing split rock at home.

Climatic Conditions

Whether you are trading Echeveria specimens with other gardeners in place of the split rock succulents or purchased them online or from physical stores, their climatic conditions for proper growth stay the same. If you are in a warmer region, it is possible to grow this split rock outdoors – preferably at 9 to 11 USDA zones.

If you do not belong to the mentioned zones or range, you don’t have to worry as it is always possible for you to grow the split rock in a container. By doing that, you can effortlessly take it inside as soon as the temperature goes down. However, remember that excess cold also hampers general health, so be extra careful not to expose it to such cold temperatures. 

Soil Requirements

When growing split rock succulents, remember that they love soil with a lot of organic material. In that case, the rule is to use well-draining soil. It needs to be sandy, preferably. Avoid fertilizing it unless the succulent is already in its growing phase or time. Choosing a proper fertilizer for their growth during that safe phase is also a must. 

Ideal Light Exposure

Requirements to Grow Split Rock Succulent

Just like other types of succulents, including the vine-looking dolphin succulents, your split rock will also be needing sufficient and the perfect light exposure. The rays of the sun are crucial for the growth of split rock succulents. So with that, you should allow them to enjoy the complete rays of the sun. If it is not possible, though, note that a partial shade is already fine for this species.

If you let it grow in an area requiring it to stay indoors, you must expose the plant to maximum light. It is what will help it thrive. The good news is that you can also get sufficient light by putting the succulent in an area close to a south-facing window. You may also want to invest in grow lights.

Watering Frequency

The fact that the split rock has a natural habitat known for being extremely dry means that you do not need to water this plant too often. You also need just a little bit of water on them. Split rock succulents also have growing seasons that are around the spring and the summer. When these seasons come, make sure to pause in between each watering session, so you can give the soil the chance to dry out completely.

During winter, you have to reduce the water needs significantly. In other words, you should avoid providing your split rock with too much water. It is often enough to give it to them once every few weeks. It is because overwatering may cause the unwanted splitting of its leaves and rotting. 


When it comes to giving your succulents fertilizer, do so during the late fall. Do it lightly. Also, ensure that the fertilizer you decided to use does not contain too much nitrogen. While such a high nitrogen content can guarantee fast growth, the resulting split rock succulent will most likely turn into a soft target for certain ailments.

How to Grow and Water Split Rock Succulents

Avoiding growing succulents to keep yourself and your pets safe is not applicable when talking about split rock. The reason is that it is completely safe and easy to grow. Just follow these steps:

Step 1 – Harvest the required seeds

You can easily grow the split rock using seeds you can harvest from a flower pod. Alternatively, you can purchase the seeds to begin planting.

Step 2 – Begin sowing the seeds during summer

Make sure to put these succulents in a warm spot, too.

Step 3 – To maximize results, soak the seeds in water first

Let it stay soaked for 24 hours before planting them in a tiny layer of sandy soil. Ensure that the soil is damp without being too wet until the germination of seeds.

Step 4 – Once planted, let the plants grow in complete sun

However, note that they can also handle partial shade for just a part of every day. If you grow them indoors, provide them with maximum light. You can give them that by putting them in a window facing south. If you intend to grow it in a pot, then go for one with a depth of at least five inches. This should be enough to hold the long top root of the plant.

Step 5 – Water your split rock sparingly at its growth phase

This usually happens during the summer and spring. Do not provide them with fertilizer at this time. Stimulate the blooming of flowers by going up to water them once every week during late summer and early autumn. Limit the watering of split rock during the winter by providing it with only a bit every few weeks.


How to Propagate Split Rock Succulents

You actually have two options in propagating split rock succulents – via seeds and division. Here are the steps:


This method is longer than division, so choose this if you are eager to wait longer to finish the process.

Step 1 – Soak the seeds the entire day

This means soaking the seeds for 24 hours. Sow the seeds in the sand afterward. 

Step 2 – Ensure that the sand is just light

It also needs to be damp during the whole germination period. Do this method during the summer.


If you want an easier and faster method, then go for division. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1 – Cut leaf from the parent succulent

During the spring, use a sterilized and sharp tool to cut off one leaf from the parent succulent. Do this right before the split rock has new growths.

Step 2 – Put the leaf in a mix that drains well

Let the cut portion become callous, then put the leaf in a mix that drains well. This should allow it to root and grow.


Do’s and Don’ts With Split Rock Succulents


  • Use well-draining soil. Just like the majority of succulents, you need to provide the split rock with well-draining soil to thrive well. You can expect them to survive even better when you let them grow in soil, which drains quicker than the potting mixes used by other succulents and cactus.
  • Propagate new plants during the early spring. You should divide the clump of the new split rock during this season before the display of new growth. Do it infrequently, though, as you can expect the plant to bloom better with tightly crowded leaves.
  • Remove brownish parts right away. If you notice some parts of your split rock browning, take them out immediately. You should then prune the plant back to promote firm and healthy growth.


  • Do not use a fertilizer based on a high-nitrogen formula. The reason is that this may only result in rapid growth that is prone to diseases.
  • Do not overwater your split rock. Overwatering, along with the use of poorly draining and rich soil, may only trigger rotting.

FAQ About Split Rock Succulents

How often do you water split rocks?

Compared to other succulents, split rock requires less water. You even need to apply the soak-and-dry technique here as you have to let the soil completely dry out between each watering. You may want to water the plant only during the early fall and the spring season, as those are the times when the temperature begins to drop.

Restrict water intake during the summer’s hottest weeks as well as during the winter. Signs that you are already overwatering are when its old leaves remain even when the summer ends and if it dies and rots.

How fast do split rocks grow?

As a perennial succulent, you can expect the split rock to last for several years. It tends to grow every spring and autumn and its flowers often come out during the late fall. This succulent can also produce a new pair of leaves annually as it absorbs the old ones. It can’t have over four pairs of leaves simultaneously.

FAQ About Split Rock Succulents

Is the split rock succulent considered toxic or poisonous?

Generally, the split rock succulent is not toxic or poisonous to both animals and humans. So it is a big advantage, especially if you are fond of pets.

Are split rock succulents lithops?

No, lithops is another succulent species that has a few similarities to the split rock – one of which is that the two have a rock-like façade. They have major differences, though. For one, split rock is bigger compared to lithops. In addition, unlike lithops, split rock does not also grow by burying it in the ground. Moreover, it is capable of producing over one flower simultaneously. Lithops, on the other hand, only makes one flower.

How big do split rocks get?

Split rock succulents can grow around 2 to 5 inches tall. They can also measure around 3 to 4 inches across.

Why is my split rock wrinkly?

There are instances when your split rock gets wrinkly, and it is actually normal in most cases. However, it may also be a sign that you are overwatering it. Note that the split rock does not require excessive amounts of water to survive. With that said, try to control its water intake, which is vital in caring for this plant. Ensuring that it gets just enough water will have a higher chance of surviving and looking healthy.

How should I know if my split rock succulent is dying?

One amazing fact about split rock succulents is that they can resist pests and the majority of diseases. However, it is also prone to dying and rotting if you overwater it or use poor-draining and rich soil. One sign that your succulent is already dying is if it starts showing brownish and soft parts.

Another sign is when it grows over two pairs or sets of leaves. If it begins to develop more than the indicated number of leaves or shows a slight crack on the epidermis, it indicates that it is already drowning in water. In that case, do not water the succulent for a minimum of one week to save it from possible rotting.


Split rock succulents are among the most fascinating and attractive succulent species you can grow. What’s great about this succulent is that it grows beautifully. It is also hard to care for, making it a great inclusion in your succulent collection. 

Photos from: soniabonetruiz /, bogdanwankowicz /, Nanihta / and elenarostunova /