Pleiospilos Nelii: Split Rock Succulent Growing and Care Tips

Pleiospilos nelii (plee-oh-SPIL-os) is a flowering succulent plant hailing from South Africa.

The genus Pleiospilos plant name comes from two Greek words: first ‘pleios’, means many and the second part, ‘spilos’ means spot.

It is a member of the Aizoaceae (ay-zoh-AY-see-ee) family and often confused with Lithops (living stones).

potted Split Rock Plant

The plant has several common names including:

  • Split Rock Plant
  • Mimicry Plant
  • Living Rock Cactus
  • African Living Rock
  • Pleiospilos nelii “Split Rock”
  • Royal Flush Split Rocks

Pleiospilos Nelii Care

Size & Growth

The US Department of Agriculture recommends the split rock plant for USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.

This stemless plant only attains a height and spread of a couple of inches.

These ancient plants can spread to several inches as they produce offshoots to form a group.

Each plant produces two to four spherical, and also deep fissure leaves.

The leaves range in color from grayish-green to brown and patterned with spots.

This succulent plant produces new leaf-pair annually and absorbs its old leaves.

Pleiospilos should never have more than four new pair of leaves at a time.

If it produces more than four new leaves, it means you are watering too much.

Flowering & Fragrance

Split Rock Plant blooms in the springtime after a winter dormancy period.

Flowers are usually orange or yellow. Occasionally a plant will produce a pink or white blossom.

The daisy-like flowers smell like coconut.

The blooms are large considering the small plant size and are held aloft by the short body of the plant.

Light & Temperature

This South African plant likes lots of light and warm temperatures.

It does best indoors in a south-facing window in winter.

In the summertime, allow Pleiospilos to enjoy bright outdoor light.

Protect it against very harsh afternoon full sun.

Watering & Feeding

These plants need little water so water sparingly! Some successful growers water only twice a year.

Water once in the early spring and again in the early fall.

Water the plant allowing the potting mix to become moist and until it runs through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot just like any other cacti.

Do not water again until the potting soil becomes completely dry and the plant begins to wither a bit.

Soil & Transplanting

Remember, the size of the plant allows them to naturally among pebbles, sandstone, and quartz gravel, and require an exceptionally sharp well-draining soil.

Avoid organic material in the soil mix. A mixture of one part succulents potting soil and three parts pumice works well.

Grooming & Maintenance

P. nelii require no grooming.

If the plant fails to completely absorb its old leaves by the end of the winter, consider removing them. Be careful, though.

If they do not come off easily, leave them alone as you do not want to damage the plant.

How To Propagate Pleiospilos

Although these plants do occasionally produce offsets, it is rare.

Growing from seed is the most common method of propagation.

Most growers scatter the seed over coarse sand and keep it slightly damp works best.

Hand sow seed early in the spring and keep the seedling tray in a warm place with bright, indirect light.

First and foremost, it can take a very long time for these plants to sprout.

Be patient.

Split Rock Plant Pests and Disease Problems

Overwatering is the main problem with Mimicry Plant.

It is very prone to rotting from overwatering.

Along with other succulents, an overwatered/rotting plant is more attractive to common pests, especially aphids and scale.

Is The Plant Considered Toxic or Poisonous?

It is common for people in South Africa to gather these plants for the moisture they contain.

According to the ASPCA, they are not toxic to dogs, cats, or horses.

Pleiospilos is slow-growing and not invasive.

Suggested Mimicry Plant Uses

Pleiospilos plants are interesting and unusual plants.

They make excellent houseplants in small containers.

Outdoors they make attractive conversation plants for a bright patio, deck, or balcony in summer.

Provide a pot with a depth of 3″ – 5″ inches to accommodate the plant’s long tap root.

In hot, dry climates, this extremely drought resistant plant is an excellent, year-round addition to a rock garden or outdoor cactus collection.