Tips to Grow and Care for Ice Plants

Ice Plants Flower
Ice Plants Flower

Are you tense as the soil of your garden is all dry and resisting to be moisty? The flowers of your garden are going grumpy and leaving your side due to the dryness. Okay, Hakuna Matata!’ as you know that if one door closes, the other one opens, my dear pal. There is a precious plant waiting for you to embrace. Do you want to know who is the lover of dry soil? Ironically, the plant that loves dryness has got a chilling name. Perplexed? Well don’t anymore, we are talking about Ice plants. 

Ice plant, this plant is very common as there are lots of species and genus that have the common name of ice plant. For example, the two most famous genera are named Lmapranthus and Delosperma. These plants are lovers of warm weather and are perennial, and grow adorable yellow-coloured blooms.

You might be thinking if this is a dry plant then why is it named Ice plant? There must be some reason!

You are right, there is a genuine reason that this plant has tiny hairs which reflect light in such a way that it reminds me of ice crystals. The foliage of the plant is fleshy and luscious, it has a magical quality too as when the temperature goes down it transforms itself into a darker hue. In the warmer areas, there are many evergreen ice plants found.

Ice plants are like an impressionist, as they can take any form, such as spreading on the ground cover to a shaggy subshrub, it all depends on the type of the plant.

The blooming season of the ice plant is spring and they continue to grow till the growing season. The best time to plant the ice plant is in the mid-summer where the climate is cooler, but in a hot climate, fall planting is much better. This species has a good and fast growth rate.

Let’s dive into the biodata of the ice plant as it is going to be your garden’s center of attraction.

The common name of the ice Plant is Ice plant, well its botanical name is Delosperma and Lampranthus. Its family is Aizoaceae. As humans are of each other’s type in a similar way ice plant is a herbaceous and perennial type.

If we talk about its size, it can be 3-6 in. tall in nature and 12-24 in. wide, let me clarify that the height and width are solely dependent on the variety.

Ice plants love the full sun exposure, they love to be sunkissed. They adore the dry, sandy, and properly drained soil. If we talk about their pH then they are neutral in nature. The peak time or we can say bloom time is the season of spring, summer, and fall. Their growing hues are pink, red, purple, yellow, orange, bi-colour, and tricolour varieties. If you go to its hardiness, it could be 6-10, the USA well it is also dependent on the variety. Well last but not least they are native to Africa.

 How to grow ice plants?

How to Grow Ice Plant
How to Grow Ice Plant

Ice plants are of dual nature; they can be grown as an annual or perennial. They are mostly perennial in a drier and less humid ambience. 

For the successful growth of Ice plant you must follow these steps:

  • Plant them in a spot where the sun abundantly showers its rays plus they should be grown in fast-draining soil. The best option would be sandy, sandy loam, or gravelly soils. In the dry climate garden, loam will go, but you can resist clay in all regions.
  • In the colder climate, plant them in the mid-summer and set up them for the winters. 
  • They are not usually thirsty so that you can water them regularly every week, during the heat of summer, as they are the product of Africa.
  • You are advised to keep them dry in the winter season. And if it snows at your place you are recommended to cover the plants with a piece of row crop cover or frost blanket so that it could keep their foliage and the crown dry.
  • Gravel mulch is adored by the ice plant and does their best when the stems grow over the top of the gravel and that keep their roots soggy and their stems and leaves all dry.
  • The next step would be to let them dry out in the fall season by resisting their irrigation.  As they need to shrink down and become hardy for the cold ambience that is soon going to come. 
  • You can prune out the stems in the mid-spring that were being damaged by the winter.
  • You are advised to fertilize them once in the fall season with organic or natural fertilizers. As they are prone to the winter. If fertilized regularly during the season of growth as they continue growing into the fall and stay plump with water in their leaves.

Now you have completed the mission of growing the ice plant. It’s time to take care of them otherwise you can lose them. 

Let’s see how you can care for them!

How to care for an ice plant?

How to Take Care Ice Plant
How to Take Care Ice Plant

 

Ice plants are mostly grown in the sunny and sheltered gardens, rock gardens, on the sloped area, or as a ground cover. They also play the role of container plant that easily fills the container and slides over the sides of the container. Ensure that the plant has been placed at the sunny spot and drenched in well-drained soil. Keep space of 15 to 18 inches in between the plants as they swiftly spread and fill up the empty area. Each winter prune the stems that are killed by the winter.

 

  • Light: Ice Plants are head over heels for the sunlight, as it allows them to blossom lavishly. Take a note of providing them with at least six hours of straight sunlight.
  • Soil: Dry soil with a wonderful drainage nature is the most precious stuff for ice plants. If it comes in contact with moisture, it won’t be able to grow at all. Sandy and gravelly soils are its best buds. Ice plants are not so demanding; they do not need their soil to be rich in nutrients.
  • Water: Once stabled, make your plant drink water sparingly during the growing season. In between two weeks, once watering can be enough, if there is no rainfall, in the hot weather weekly watering should be sufficient. Ensure that your ice Plant is all dried before the winter season. It should not be sitting in moist soil. If your garden area hovers with snow cover then you should try to mulch, as like a straw so that it could help them to keep dry.
  • Humidity and Temperature:  All varieties of ice plants, even including the hardy type, are sensitive to chilled temperature and always check the hardiness range for the new ice plants if you want to see them as perennial. If you live in a cold and snowy climate then you are suggested to do winter mulching.
  • Fertilizer: It would be great to add compost or a slow-release fertilizer that is solely made for the flowers. Ice plants are so cool as they do well with less or no feeding too. But the container-grown plants love to be fed as the nutrients in the pots do not last long. If you witness the weak growth and lack of blooms then it is a sign that feeding is important and necessary.

Only planting and taking care is not enough, there are some further steps too! What are they? Let’s move ahead.

How to propagate ice plants?

Ice plants are famed to spread all over. They self-seed to propagate naturally. You can witness stems that have spread and already rooted themselves far away from the parent plant. You can generally snip the stem and carefully dig up the freshly rooted plant and transplant them. To propagate them you can also divide them easily.  It is a pocket-friendly way, and also helps in reviving the plant. Spring is the best time to divide the plant as this is the time when the plants are matured enough to get divided. 

Let’s get insight on propagation

  • Dig the plant, and try to resist the damage to the roots. Digging helps to bring sogginess in the soil before allowing the roots to slide out more calmly.
  • You are requested to use a sharp spade to divide the plant in half at the roots.
  • After that, replant each of the halves in an appropriate growing spot and ensure it should be at the same depth as the original plant was growing. Gently pat down the soil and lightly provide moisture to it.

 Pests to be careful of:

The pests that may occasionally attack your ice plant are mainly Aphids and mealybugs. They mainly damage the stems and the leaves of the plant. Look after them carefully. Treat the plant with a small dose of infestations by dabbing with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Do ice plants come back every year?

Ice plants are perennial, they come back every year, although their hardiness zone varies by species. Ensure that you are selecting a perennial species.

Are ice plants easy to be with?

They are the most low-maintenance plant ever. They do not require your attention and care, they are majorly self-dependent, they don’t need much food and water. They are a natural beauty.

Can you eat ice plants? 

Ice plants are full of versatility. They are crunchy, fleshy, juicy, and have a little saltiness within them. They are edible and can be eaten raw. The fleshy leaves are used in salads, as they provide a nice salty crunchiness, you can boil the leaves and make tea. 

Facts about ice plants: 

Facts about ice plant
Facts about ice plant

Ice plants are botanically known as Carpobrotus edulis. Also known as sour dig, cape fog, sea fig, or Hottentot fig. Well, you must be scratching your head that it may have a relationship with the common fig as it has fig added in the last. But there is not any link between the common fig and the ice plant. 

There are six species of ice plant that belong to Australia, where it is famed as Pigface or angular pig face.  Owing to its sprawling carpet-like shape, ice plants are mainly grown along highways so that they can control soil erosion. It can grow as much as one meter per year.

Ice plants are major water and food having low calories.  They are rich in vitamins A, B, and C.

It has antiseptic properties in its juice that are used to cure infections. And it is helpful in digestive problems and can be taken orally.

The astringents present in the ice plant can seal the damaged blood vessels and may be used to treat minor cuts. 

Its fruits are being used in making JAMA

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