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Delosperma (Ice Plant) – the perfect resident for a dry sunny spot

I am a Delosperma fanatic. I have been collecting them for 10 years and here is a variety you have got to try! Lots of colour and hardy!

Delosperma - Ice plant
Delosperma – Ice plant

For the past ten years, I have been collecting various members of the sun loving Aizoaceae family. You could put it down as a plant obsessions, but I think you’ll agree that these excellent little adapters will add a touch of warmer climes to any garden. Especially the commonly found form: Ice Plant, or Delosperma.

The Aizoaceae is a very large group of succulent plants and contains species such as Lampranthus, Annual Mesembryanthemum (Livingstone daisy), Delosperma (Ice Plant), to mention just a few. Most species come from South Africa.

Things you’ll love about Delosperma Ice Plants

  • They are remarkably easy to take from cuttings. No need for rooting powder. Use a gritty compost to give them a head start
  • Being succulent, they need very little moisture to thrive
  • Colourful Daisy-like flowers that only open out during periods of sunshine – something to amuse children
  • They have luscious, cacti-like leaves
  • Some species like Delosperma compactum, form dense, weed suppressing mats and will tolerate the harshest of environments, including dry walls
  • Slugs and snails are not really interested in them

Depending on where you live in the UK, you will need to protect some varieties of Delosperma from hard frosts. They may be called ‘Ice plants’. However, that is because the succulent leaves have transparent dots all over them. This gives the appearance of frost. A severe frost can damage your plants. Personally, I haven’t had any die on me yet, but I do live by the sea in South Devon. Every year, I take plenty of cuttings from my Delospermas, from each variety and place them in a frost free environment to be on the safe side. This ensures that if I loose any plants, I have a good stock for next year. So far so good!

A hardy Delosperma (Ice pLants) to try

In January, I purchased Delosperma ‘Jewell of the Desert Collection‘, from Thompson and Morgan. So far, I am very impressed with the results. Not only did they make it through the coldest months in a non-heated greenhouse, they have also been flowering now for three months and there are still plenty of new buds forming. So colourful! The flowers aren’t quite as big as the common Delosperma cooperi, but they do come in 5 different colours: red, yellow, white, pink and orange.

I can’t wait to propagate them once they grow a bit bigger. I’m planning to cram them into every dry, hot and sunny spot in my garden next year.

Remember, if you are considering growing them, make sure you plant Delospermas in a bright spot as the flowers only open in the heat of the sun. Also, a well-drained soil would be best.

Delospermas (Ice Plants) are relatively care free. However, if you are very unlucky, your plants my contract Downy Mildew (Peronospora mesembryanthemi). If this is the case, there is very little you can do to stop it. To avoid infection, here are some measures you might want to consider:

  • Water during the morning only to allow your plant’s leaves to dry out during the day
  • Avoid watering your plants during colder seasons
  • Don’t over or under feed your Ice Plants
  • If you find any infected plants, remove then and bin them straight away

By James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

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