Sunday, June 8, 2014

Growing Lithops in the hot tropical climate Part 1: Seed germinationion

I will be writing  a series of posts that outlined my experimentation with growing Lithops in the hot and humid tropical weather.  Please note the information I will be sharing are from my personal encounter and from a view point of an AMATEUR gardener (novice to the Lithops world).  

My posts will be structured into following growth phases
1) Seed Germination (2-3 weeks)
2) Caring for Seedlings (3week to 6 months)
(to be updated as the experiment progresses)

Part 1:  Seed Germination

Available online Sources for seeds
- Thompson and Morgon International website
(this is the source where I obtain the seeds for this experiment.  They come in a mixed pack and without species names)
- (both seeds and live plants available for sales)
Note: This is not an exhaustive list as there are more suppliers available online. 

Planting Material
For my experiment, I opt for a none organic materials.  I use a combination of lava rocks (as the base), perlite (middle layer) and sand (top layer). 
Some interesting information on Lithops seed germination as follows
- Lithops and Things blogspot

As suggested by the Uwe Beyer from , better germination is obtained with temperature between 15-20C.  With each degree of temperature increase, the germination rate is lower.  The seed packet that I bought outlined a temperature range of 18-27C (65-80F). 

My indoor temperature is around 28/29C at night and 29/30C in the day.  My workaround is to create a micro-climate at the lowest cost.  I use a Styrofoam cooler box, with a LED light from my Marimo experiment and ice from my fridge as the cooling agent.  I change the ice twice daily; morning when I switch on the light and at night when I switch off the light.
This idea for this setup came from Information resource site for newts and salamanders enthusiasts

Updated on 24 July 2014
The following photo shows my temperate setup.   I also have another pot at my patio to gauge tropical temperature impact on germination.  The seeds were sown on 9-July-2014 which happened to coincide with the beginning of another hot and dry spell in Malaysia.  Perhaps sowing in the wet and cooler monsoon season may increase the germination rate.

Temperate condition setup

Planting material

Results (11days for container A&B, 14 days for container C)
Key Observations:
- Idea temperature plays a key role in the germination process
- Light increases the germination rate
- Even though germination is lower at Container C, the seedlings are bigger.   My guess is it could be due to light.  To confirm, I added an additional light source in my temperate setup on top of container A.  Hopefully, more seeds will germinate as the entire process should last for 2 -3 weeks.
This concludes Part 1 of the experiment.  Below are close up of the babies (from container C).

Have fun trying this out.  I will continue to update the progress of these babies.

Why I create this blog

Since young, one of my hobby has been gardening.  Ever since age of 7, I have been helping my father with our gardens.  By the age of 12, I was given my own chrysanthemum patch.   I managed to grow beautiful plant that flowers well.   Looking back, it was really an amazing feat since the temperature and weather have never been on my side.  Unfortunately, when I left Malaysia to study abroad, all my chrysanthemum babies were gone.  

Few years back, I made a decision to do things I really love.  From just doing trial and error, the amount of  information has changed how I do gardening.   At this point, I am still into trying to grow plants from different climates.  However, I also beginning to appreciate how abundance of tropical species that can be grown easily in my current climate can be "groomed" into some outstanding displays. 

I stay in Klang a lowland city in Malaysia that enjoys lots of rain and sunshine in Malaysia.  However, the current climates also poses some challenges with the heat and humidity, and lately with the strange long dry and wet spells.  Occasionally my zealous four legged feline and canine friends also tried to provide some unwanted help.

There are also some micro climates in my garden depending on the location.  As for use of chemical, it varies depending on the plants and sometimes depending on outbreaks that occur around my housing area.  

In this blog, I would like to share some of my experiences(as scientific as possible) in growing some of the challenging plants.  Please feel free to share your comments or questions, however, I would like to apologize if I did not immediately respond as I am still living in a life that I wish has more than 24hours in a day.

And most of all, hope you enjoy the posts.