Ice plants, also known by their scientific name Delosperma, are a unique and captivating addition to any garden. Native to South Africa but now naturalized around the world, these succulents thrive in hot climates and poor soil conditions, making them an ideal choice for xeriscaping or rock gardens. With their ability to withstand drought, ice plants are a perfect groundcover option for covering large landscapes. Not only do they add a vibrant touch to your outdoor space, but they also play a vital role in attracting bees and butterflies for pollination purposes and preventing soil erosion.
The Mesmerizing Story Behind the Ice Plant’s Name
Have you ever wondered how the ice plant got its name? This resilient plant owes its unique moniker to the remarkable cells that line its aerial surface. These cells have a mesmerizing quality as they reflect light, sparkling like ice crystals under the sun. The Ice Plant, scientifically known as Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, is highly salt-tolerant and has become naturalized worldwide, originating from its South African roots. So, when you witness its glistening beauty, remember the story behind its enchanting name.
Surviving the Chills of Winter
Ice plants are known for their resilience, but winter temperatures can pose a challenge. While they can tolerate temperatures as low as 15°F, anything colder might hinder their comeback in the following spring season. To protect them during harsh winter freezes, it’s best to use a thermal plant blanket, ensuring their survival and vibrant return.
A Burst of Color and Height
Ice plants come in various varieties, each with its unique characteristics. Most ice plants grow to about two inches in height, while some reach up to six inches. These plants are hardy and thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 10. Familiarize yourself with your gardening zone to make the most of your ice plant’s potential.
Among the ice plant varieties, the Hardy Yellow (Delosperma) stands out as the most popular choice. With its delightful blooms during spring and throughout the summer months, it outshines its counterparts. Its vibrant yellow flowers add a touch of sunshine to any garden. Just imagine the joy of witnessing these bright blooms in full bloom!
Yellow Flowering ice plant in front of Guzman’s Greenhouse Store
The purple ice plant, known as Delosperma cooperi, closely follows the Hardy Yellow in popularity. This vigorous and fast-growing variety spreads quickly and can be easily propagated. Simply prune off a stem and plant it in cactus soil, and soon you’ll witness new growth. While the purple ice plant also needs full sun, it requires slightly more frequent watering. It can handle a little shade but thrives longer and blooms more extensively when exposed to full sun.
Image by Davgood Kirshot from Pixabay
The red ice plant shares the same sun and water requirements as its yellow and purple counterparts. With its captivating red blooms, this variety adds a vibrant touch to any garden bed or container.
For a breathtaking burst of colors, look no further than the Orange Ice Plant. With its spectacular bright orange and purple flowers, this variety thrives in both decorative pots and in-ground plantings. To extend the blooming period, consider deadheading the expired blooms during the summer season. Whether you choose to showcase them in containers or in the ground, these ice plants will provide a fantastic burst of spring color. And the best part? Ice plants are considered perennials in the Southwest and surrounding areas, so you can enjoy their beauty year after year.
Orange and Purple ice plant – Image by mika irene goldammer from Pixabay
Ease of Maintenance and Possible Challenges
Ice plants are incredibly low-maintenance and resistant to disease and insects. They prefer well-drained soil and will thrive with more frequent watering during the mid-summer heat in hot regions. Occasional pruning in late winter or early spring will promote new growth, ensuring your ice plants remain lush and vibrant.
While ice plants are generally trouble-free, scale insects may occasionally pose a threat. Familiarize yourself with the signs of scale insect infestation and promptly address any issues. Keep in mind that numerous hybrid ice plants are available in local gardening stores, offering you a wide array of options to explore.
It’s worth noting that birds may be attracted to ice plants, especially in areas with little human traffic. If you wish to protect your plants from feathered visitors, consider incorporating bird repellent techniques. After all, you wouldn’t want your beautiful ice plants to become a bird buffet.
Ice plants are more than just visually appealing additions to your garden. They embody resilience, adaptability, and a splash of natural beauty. So why not invite these enchanting succulents into your life and experience the joy of a colorful spring? Visit Ames Farm Center to discover a selection of ice plants that will transform your outdoor space into a vibrant oasis.
*Note: This article is solely for informational purposes and is not intended as professional gardening advice.