Pleiospilos nelii: The Split Rock Succulent

Pleiospilos nelii

Pleiospilos nelii, also known as the split rock succulent, royal flush succulent, split rock plant, rock plant succulent, or just the living granite, is a bizarre-looking plant that can survive in some of the harshest conditions in the world. In fact, it has been known to survive fires and even being buried alive by sand dunes.

The split rock succulent looks like it might have been split off of a larger plant when the weather turns cold, but this desert-dwelling succulent actually does grow like that naturally.

Pleiospilos nelii grows in South Africa and Namibia, so it requires very little water or care to live and thrive; in fact, you’ll need to be careful not to over-water your split rock succulent because this could kill it just as quickly as neglecting its watering needs would!

The plant looks strikingly similar to the popular Pleiospilos bolusii which can be found in gardens and nurseries across the globe.

Origin and distribution

Pleiospilos nelii, or split rock succulent or living granite, is a member of the Aizoaceae family, and a rock plant succulent native to South Africa. It gets its common name from the fact that its leaves are split down the middle, giving it a unique appearance.

The plant is also known as the royal flush succulent because of its showy flowers, which range in color from orange to red. Pleiospilos nelii has a number of different varieties and grows at high altitudes and on rocky outcrops and cliffs.

Its flower spikes give off an unpleasant odor and attract carrion beetles for pollination purposes. When threatened by danger, the split rock plant will reflexively split open so that its seed can be dispersed elsewhere for propagation purposes.

Pleiospilos nelii propagation

Pleiospilos nelii

These slow-growing plants are typically propagated by seed, but can also be propagated by offsets. To propagate by seed, sow the seeds in a well-draining cactus mix and water sparingly. Once the seedlings have germinated and are large enough to handle, transplant them into individual pots.

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Make sure not to overwater as these plants do not like wet feet. In summer, it may be necessary to pot up the plant again into a larger container so that the roots can grow without being cramped or restricted from spreading out.

Otherwise, put some pebbles or small rocks on top of the soil for this succulent does not like its roots being in contact with soil. Although they prefer dry conditions, too much sunlight will scorch their leaves, so make sure they get at least some shade.

During the winter months when nighttime temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), provide your Pleiospilos nelii with an insulated blanket to prevent its leaves from freezing.

It is recommended that you repot your Pleiospilos every other year to keep it healthy and growing vigorously.

Pleiospilos nelii care information

Pleiospilos nelii

They’re easy to care for and make a great addition to any succulent collection!

Pleiospilos nelii is very easy to grow as long as it has good drainage and is kept in an area with bright light but little direct sunlight. It also likes a little bit of humidity at all times.

Be sure that your plant’s leaves are never touching the potting mix! When repotting this plant, you should use a fresh cactus mix with sand added for good drainage.

Light requirement

Pleiospilos nelii, or split rock succulent, is a plant that requires very little light to survive. In fact, it does best in bright, direct sunlight. However, too much sun can cause the leaves to become bleached and dried out. If you notice this happening, simply move the plant to a shadier spot.

Soil/potting mix

A well-draining soil is a must for Pleiospilos nelii, as they are susceptible to root rot. A cactus or succulent potting mix would work well, or you could make your own by mixing together equal parts sand, perlite, and potting soil.

Be sure to add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the pot for drainage. If necessary, use a container with higher sides to prevent over-watering.

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Watering

These succulents are native to the dry, rocky regions of South Africa and do not need much water to survive. In fact, too much water can be detrimental to their health. During the growing season (spring and summer), water once a week or every two weeks.

Allow the soil to completely dry out before watering again. In the winter, you can reduce watering to once a month or every six weeks.

Fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizer, Pleiospilos nelii is not particularly picky. A well-balanced, all-purpose fertilizer will do the trick. Just be sure to water it thoroughly after applying the fertilizer, as this succulent is susceptible to root rot.

For best results, fertilize your Pleiospilos nelii every two weeks during the growing season. Use a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer with high phosphorous content that also contains trace elements and magnesium for healthy growth.

A good rule of thumb is to apply about 1/4 cup of fertilizer per plant when watering during the growing season. If you’re concerned about overfeeding your plants, split up the application into several smaller doses over a few days rather than one big dose on any given day.

Temperature

Though it’s native to South Africa, the split rock succulent can thrive in a variety of climates. It’s important to keep the temperature consistent, however, as too much heat or cold can damage the plant.

During the winter, the plant should be kept around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the summer, it should be kept around 70 degrees. If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, it’s best to keep your split rock succulent indoors.

Humidity

One of the great things about Pleiospilos nelii is that it’s not too picky about humidity. It will do just fine in average home humidity, as long as it’s not too wet or too dry. That said, if you live in a particularly dry climate, you may want to give your plant a little extra humidity. One way to do this is to put a pebble tray under the pot.

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The ideal humidity range is 40-50%. If the air around your plant is too humid, mist it with a spray bottle.

Pruning

Although the split rock succulent is a low-maintenance plant, it benefits from the occasional pruning. Pruning helps to encourage new growth and can also help to control the plant’s size.

To prune your split rock succulent, simply snip off any dead or dying leaves. You can also remove any leggy stems. When pruning, be sure to use sharp, clean shears.

Dull scissors may cut into the soft flesh of the leaf, which will eventually kill it. Remove all traces of dead or diseased material.

If you have an overgrown pleiospilos nelii, you might need to trim the top layer with a sharp pair of clippers. Never cut below a healthy layer; that way you’ll never need to worry about cutting too much away.

When to repot

Repotting pleiospilos nelii is best done in the spring before the plant begins to actively grow. This succulent can be sensitive to root disturbance, so be sure to handle it carefully when repotting.

Use a well-draining potting mix and water sparingly. Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering.

Pleiospilos nelii can survive on rainfall alone during the winter months and should not need watering until new growth starts again in the spring. Pleiospilos nelii does not like to have its roots disturbed and is susceptible to rot if overwatered or repotted too often.

Dormancy/Winter rest

Just like many other succulents, the split rock succulent (Pleiospilos nelii) goes through a period of dormancy or winter rest. This is a natural process that helps the plant conserve its energy and resources.

During this time, the plant will stop growing and producing new leaves. The leaves may also start to shrivel and turn brown. But don’t worry, this is all perfectly normal! If you are overwatering your plants during this time, it’s possible that you might kill them so just make sure to cut back on watering.

You can still give your plants some water – just not as much as usual – but be careful not to overdo it because too much water will also cause problems for the plant.

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Pleiospilos nelii flower & fragrance

Pleiospilos nelii

The flowers of the Pleiospilos nelii are small and white, with a yellow center. They have a sweet fragrance that is often compared to that of roses. The blooms appear in clusters and stay open for several days.

Growth rate

The growth rate of the pleiospilos nelii is quite slow. In fact, it can take up to five years for this succulent to reach its full size. However, once it reaches maturity, it will produce offsets or pups that can be used to propagate new plants. When grown in ideal conditions, the split rock succulent can live for decades.

Toxicity

All succulents are considered non-toxic to humans and animals. However, some people may experience skin irritation after coming into contact with the sap of certain succulents, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution and wash your hands after handling them.

Pleiospilos nelii is no exception to this rule – its sap can cause skin irritation in some people. If you have any cuts or open wounds on your hands, it’s best to avoid handling this plant altogether.

USDA hardiness zones

Pleiospilos nelii thrives in USDA hardiness zones 10-11. There are some varieties that can survive in a warmer climate, but they are not as tough as the original species.

Pests and diseases

Although the split rock succulent is a fairly resilient plant, it is susceptible to mealybugs and other pests. If you notice any pests on your plant, it’s important to act quickly and remove them by either hand-picking them off or using a pesticide.

Diseases that can affect the split rock succulent include root rot and fungal infections. To prevent these diseases, make sure you plant your succulents in well-draining soil and don’t overwater it.

Be careful not to place your plant near drafts because this will cause the leaves to dry out more quickly.