Ice Plant Care in Winter

With lush carpets of flowers, the ice plant (Delosperma) transforms barren sandy soils in the rock garden, on the roof garden or along the dry stone wall into a summer paradise. The small perennial does not want to be pampered for this floral masterpiece. The following answers to frequently asked questions convey just how to care for the winter hardy ice plant.

Planting the Ice Plant

For the graceful ice plant, spring is considered the optimal planting time, so that the perennial can best establish itself by winter. Choose the sunniest location in the garden with sandy, lean and well drained soil. Thanks to this care, you set the course for a flowering perennial life.

In the thoroughly weeded and raked ground, create small pits at a distance of 20-25 cm with 1.5 times the volume of the root ball. Inspect the soil to make sure it is loose and permeable. If in doubt, add sand, fine grit or gravel. Then remove the young plants from their pots and plant them in the middle, maintaining the previous planting depth. Water regularly on the day of planting and over the next few days to promote rooting.

Caring for Ice Plants

If an ice plant is given a sunny location with sandy, permeable soil, the maintenance program is limited to the following measures:

  • Start fertilization with compost and horn shavings in April / May
  • Apply liquid fertilizer diluted in a pot in April and June
  • Water a little if it is dry
  • Trim only when necessary to control the growth

Ice Plant Care in Winter

Frost-sensitive species and varieties of ice plant are preferably kept in pots so that they can move to a bright, frost-free winter area in good time. Cover cold-resistant conspecifics with leaves, straw or brushwood before the first frost.

Which location is suitable?

The sunnier the location, the more opulent the ice plant unfolds its flowers. The perennial owes its name not least to its floral talent for showing no signs of fatigue even in the blazing midday sun. On the contrary, maximum light output forces vitality and abundance of flowers. This goes hand in hand with their desire for sandy-dry, poor and well-drained soil.

ice plant care
“Ice Plant” by *~Dawn~* is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What soil does the ice plant need?

Delospermas have a reputation for being robust survivors. Thanks to their succulent leaves, they save every single raindrop for periods of drought. Thus, the soil can be sandy, dry and poor, because the perennials are primarily concerned with first-class water drainage. If in doubt, add a generous amount of sand, grit and fine gravel to normal garden soil and potting soil.

When does the ice plant bloom?

The main blooming period of midday flowers range from July to September, as the perennial achieves the maximum yield of sun rays in summer. If you can't wait for the star blossoms to appear in the rock garden, choose the Delosperma congestum. This species bloom as early as April. If they stop flowering in July, conspecifics such as the Yellow ice plant (Delosperma lineare) or the Sutherland hardy ice plant (Delosperma sutherlandii) will be there.

Trimming the ice plant

The ice plant expresses its modest needs when it comes to trimming. In principle, no trimming is required for the Delosperma. However if you want to control the growth of the exotic ground cover, trim the plant into shape as required. This action is possible at any time.

Watering the Delosperma

With a watering can in hand, you will seldom make your way to an ice plant. Thanks to the succulent leaves, the perennial usually has a supply of moisture. Only water the plant in the early morning or late evening if it is persistent. Since the substrate dries out faster in a pot than in a bed, check the surface with your finger every few days to water when it is dry.

Fertilizing ice plant the right way

The proper supply of nutrients is limited to starting fertilization in April. With a portion of compost and horn shavings you can get the perennial going. Slow-release organic fertilizer meets the requirements of an ice plant much better than a highly concentrated complete fertilizer. We therefore recommend the application of liquid fertilizer in a highly diluted concentration in the container and planter in April and June.

Overwinter

The degree of winter hardiness of an ice plant depends on the type and variety selected. Public favorites such as Golden Nugget or Peach Star are completely frost-proof in the local regions. Species such as Delosperma cooperi only get through the cold season in good health in mild winter wine-growing regions. Therefore, cultivate frost-sensitive Delospermas, preferably in pots, in order to relocate them to a light, frost-free winter area in autumn. The resilient species should be given the following protection:

  • Before the first frost, cover the perennial with a 20-30 cm layer of leaves and brushwood
  • Alternatively, cover the ice plant with garden fleece (no foil)

Do note that all winter protection must be removed as soon as the mercury permanently exceeds the zero degree mark. Otherwise, condensation could form under the layer of leaves or the fleece and, as a result, rot.

ice plant succulent
“Ice Plant” by patrick_standish is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ice plant propagation

In terms of reproduction, the uncomplicated cultivation of an ice plant continues seamlessly. In order to grow more specimens of this frugal perennial, the following methods are available:

  • Cut cuttings with a length of 10 cm to allow them to root in a small pot with poor substrate
  • Division of the root ball in spring
  • Sow the seeds behind glass from February

While the vegetative propagation by means of cuttings or division takes place without extensive effort, the sowing makes slightly higher demands. The very fine seeds should not be sieved or only very thinly sieved. In a partially shaded window will at a constant 20 degrees Celsius, germination takes around 2 to 3 weeks. After another 4 to 6 weeks, you can transplant them if they have at least 2 pairs of leaves. The young perennials are ideally planted out from mid-May.

Is ice plant poisonous?

The toxicity of the Delosperma is still a controversial issue. As there is currently a lack of well-founded scientific research and knowledge, we recommend exercising caution. Keep the perennial out of the reach of small children and pets to be on the safe side.

Nice ice plants varieties

When hobby gardeners talk about an ice plant, it is usually one of the following magnificent varieties of the genus Delosperma. At home in the sun-drenched regions of South Africa, the succulent, flat-growing plant combines an abundance of exotic flowers with unpretentiousness and robust winter hardiness.

  • Golden Nugget: gold-yellow gem for the rock garden and sunny table garden; Height 5-10 cm
  • White Nugget: pure white magical blossoms all summer long over juicy leaves; Height 5-10 cm
  • Purple Ice Plant: The purple-colored star blossoms contrast enchantingly with the succulent foliage; Height 10-15 cm
  • Dyer's Ice Plant: The mat-forming succulent scores with pale coppery shades, soft red to strong magenta flowers; Height 5-8 cm

Pro Tip:

The ice plant is well suited as a rock garden plant, as a plant for dry slopes or for planting balcony boxes because it loves extensive sun exposure and drought.

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