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Types of Ice Plants
In the Southwest Ice plants thrive in heat and poor soil. These plants are succulents and are drought tolerant making them a perfect choice for Xeriscape or rock gardens. It is an excellent ground-cover for those looking to cover a large landscaping space.
Where does Ice plant get its name?
The Ice Plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) is a highly salt tolerant plant native to South Africa but now naturalized worldwide. This succulent perennial gets its name from the remarkable cells that line the aerial surface of the plant, that reflect the light and sparkle like ice crystals in the sun.
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What about winter?
They will survive temperatures down to about 15° Fahrenheit during the winter seasons. Any colder than that and they will have a hard time coming back the next spring season.
How tall do they grow?
Many ice plant varieties will grow about 2 inches in height and some as tall as 6 inches.
USDA Hardiness Zones 8 – 10. Know your gardening zone.
The Hardy Yellow (delosperma) is the most popular and will bloom all spring and more often during the summer months than all the others.
Purple ice plant is a close second (delosperma cooperi) below. A vigorous fast growing ice plant than most other types of ice plants. It spreads quickly and can easily be propagated prune off a stem and plant in cactus soil or mix and it will take. It does need to be in full sun and watered more often. A little shade is ok but will grow and bloom much longer in full sun.
Red Ice plant. This ice plant is basically the same sun and water requirements as the yellow and purple ice plant.
The Orange Ice Plant. A spectacular bright orange ice plant that does well in decorative pots or in the ground. For longer lasting blooms deadhead the expired blooms during the summer season for more flowers. Plant them in containers or in the ground for a fantastic burst of spring color. Ice plants are considered perennials in and around the southwest.
Problems with Ice Plants
Ice Plants are almost maintenance free and are disease and insect resistant plants. They like well-drained soil and will do better with more watering during the mid-summer heat in hot weather regions.
Occasional pruning during late winter or early spring will help develop new growth quickly.
Scale insects will on occasion attack ice plants. Learn more about scale and other insects here.
There are numerous hybrid ice plants that are available at most local gardening stores.
Paul Guzman – Husband, Father, Grandfather, Gardener, and Webmaster of GuzmansGreenhouse.com