How to Grow and Care for Ice Plants (2022)

There are many genera and species that carry the common name of ice plant. Two of the most popular genera are Lampranthus and Delosperma. These plants are warm-weather perennials that come back every year, known for their brightly colored flowers. The name ice plant derives from tiny hairs on the plant that reflect light in a manner that resembles ice crystals. The foliage is fleshy and succulent-like, and it morphs into a darker color as fall temperatures drop. In warm regions, many types of ice plants are evergreen.

Ice plants typically begin blooming in spring and continue throughout the growing season. These fast-growing plants are best planted by midsummer in cooler climates, but in hot climates fall planting is preferred.

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Common NameIce plant
Botanical NameDelosperma spp., Lampranthus spp.
FamilyAizoaceae
Plant TypeHerbaceous, perennial
Mature Size3–6 in. tall, 12–24 in. wide
Sun ExposureFull
Soil TypeSandy, well-drained
Soil pHNeutral
Bloom TimeSpring, summer, fall
Flower ColorPink, red, purple, yellow, orange
Hardiness Zones6–10 (USDA)
Native AreaAfrica

Ice Plant Care

Ice plants can take the form of everything from a spreading ground cover to a bushy subshrub, depending on the type. Ice plants are used in sunny but sheltered desert gardens, in rock gardens, on slopes, or as ground cover or edging plants. Individual plants often spread around 2 feet, though they occasionally can spread even more than that. They also work well as container plants that easily fill the top and eventually spill over the sides of the container.

Make sure your planting location has a lot of sun and fast-draining soil. Space plants 15 to 18 inches apart, as they will quickly spread to fill the empty space. Each spring, prune out any winter-killed stems.

How to Grow and Care for Ice Plants (1)

How to Grow and Care for Ice Plants (2)

(Video) Plant Care Tips : How to Grow Ice Plant (Lampranthus)

Light

Ice plants need a considerable amount of full sun to ensure that they flower profusely. Sun-starved plants tend to get leggy with weak growth. Be sure to provide them with at least six hours of direct sunlight.

Soil

Dry soil with excellent drainage is essential for an ice plant. The plant will suffer under conditions that are constantly moist, and it won't grow at all in dense clay soil. Sandy and gravelly soils are ideal for this plant. The soil does not need to be rich in nutrients.

Water

Once established, water your ice plant sparingly during the growing season. One watering every two weeks should be sufficient during periods when there is no rainfall, though a weekly watering might be necessary during hot weather. Let your ice plant dry out before winter, so it's not sitting in soil that is too moist. If snow cover is likely in your area, mulch the ice plant with a dry mulch, such as straw, to keep it dry for the winter.

Temperature and Humidity

All types of ice plant, including the so-called "hardy" varieties, are sensitive to cold temperatures. Be sure to check the hardiness range for any new ice plant you'd like to grow as a perennial. If you live in a snowy climate, winter mulching might be recommended. They grow best in dry climates.

Fertilizer

It can be helpful to add compost or a slow-release fertilizer made for flowers, following label instructions, when planting. Ice plants can also do well with no feeding whatsoever. However, container-grown ice plants are likely to need feeding, as the soil nutrients in pots become depleted more quickly than garden soil. Weak growth or a lack of blooms can be signs that feeding is necessary.

Types of Ice Plants

There are several types of ice plants, including:

  • Delosperma brunnthaleri: This is a hardy ground cover that grows around 2 inches tall and 2 feet wide with yellow flowers. It's suitable for zones 4 to 9.
  • Delosperma floribundum 'Starburst': This is a mat-forming cultivar that has pink flowers with white centers. It's suitable for zones 6 to 8.
  • Delosperma cooperi: This plant features magenta flowers and grows around 3 to 6 inches tall. It's suitable for zones 6 to 10.
  • Lampranthus aurantiacus:This species has bright orange flowers and an upright growth habit, reaching around 15-18 inches high. It's suitable for zones 9 to 11.
  • Lampranthus haworthii:This plant sports blue-green foliage and pink or purple flowers. It's suitable for zones 9 to 11.

Propagating Ice Plants

Ice plants can spread and self-seed to propagate naturally if you let them. Often, you'll find stems that have spread and rooted in the soil away from the parent plant. You can simply snip the stem and carefully dig up the newly rooted plant to transplant. They also are easily propagated by division. Not only will this result in a cost-effective new plant, but it also can help to revive a mature plant. The best time to divide a mature plant is in the spring. Here's how:

  1. Dig up the plant, avoiding as much damage to the roots as possible. It helps to moisten the soil beforehand to allow the roots to slide out more easily.
  2. Use a sharp spade to divide the plant in half at the roots.
  3. Replant each half in a suitable growing site at the same depth the original plant was growing. Gently pat down the soil, and lightly moisten it.

Potting and Repotting Ice Plant

Ice plants will grow well in any well-draining potting mix, such as a mix formulated for succulents. Or, a mixture of standard peat-based potting mix and sand or fine gravel works well. Any type of pot works well, provided it has good drainage—root rot can quickly develop if the roots get waterlogged. A thin layer of fine gravel placed over the potting mix will help keep the leaves dry.

If growing ice plant in containers, move the pots into a sheltered, frost-free location for the winter. They can be kept alive indoors through the winter, but do not make great permanent houseplants. Reduce watering in the winter, as the plants tend to enter a semi-dormant period.

(Video) Hardy Ice Plant

These plants spread quickly, so it's typical to divide and repot them each spring.

Common Pests

Aphids and mealybugs can be an occasional problem with ice plants. Look for leaf and stem damage and sticky or otherwise abnormal substances that these bugs leave behind on the plants. Treat small infestations by dabbing with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol.

How to Get Ice Plants to Bloom

Ice plant blooms vary by species. In general, ice plants feature showy, daisy-like flowers in an array of vivid colors with many narrow petals. They begin blooming in the spring, and their bloom period can last for weeks. Some species also might bloom for a second time later in the summer.

Deadheading, or removing the spent flowers, doesn’t typically have much of an effect on ice plants to promote more blooming. What does encourage blooming is providing ice plants with plenty of light. And while they don’t require rich soil, they might need a boost with a flower fertilizer or compost if you have very nutrient-poor soil.

Common Problems With Ice Plants

When grown in the proper conditions, ice plants generally aren't prone to problems. However, a subpar environment can result in some common issues.

Plant Leaves Falling Off

If you notice that the leaves and stems of your ice plant are withering and dying, that might be a sign of root rot due to overwatering. Soggy soil can rot the roots, and consequently the stems and foliage won't be able to get the moisture and nutrients they need. Make sure the soil dries out between waterings.

Yellow Leaves

Yellowing ice plant leaves are another common consequence of overwatering. In addition to letting the soil dry out between waterings, make sure the plant has sharp soil drainage. If not, consider digging it up and relocating it before the excess soil moisture can seriously weaken or even kill the plant.

FAQ

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FAQs

Is ice plant easy to grow? ›

If you are looking for a vibrant way to fill up space in the garden, ice plants (Delosperma) are an easy to grow and prolific blooming ground cover option. Native to South Africa, these heat-loving perennials may draw a lot of attention in the landscape, but they thrive on some degree of neglect.

How do you plant an ice plant? ›

Ice plant requires a sunny spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun a day. It can tolerate partial shade, but doesn't bloom nearly as much. Plant it in well-drained soil. Ice plant hates clay and poorly draining soils; it often dies if planted in a spot where there's standing water for extended periods.

How much water do ice plants need? ›

One watering every two weeks should be sufficient during periods when there is no rainfall, though a weekly watering might be necessary during hot weather. Let your ice plant dry out before winter, so it's not sitting in soil that is too moist.

How fast do ice plants grow? ›

How fast does an Ice Plant spread? These succulents can cover a fair amount of ground for their size. They can grow to spread out as much as four feet across. This generally only takes a few short months, but they won't get much bigger.

Why are my ice plants dying? ›

The primary reason ice plants start withering or dying is due to water issues. If you notice the plant wilting, it needs more water. However, too much watering blocks the flow of oxygen to the root system. As a result, the plant starts dying and withering due to stem or root rot.

Should you cut back ice plants? ›

Prune in the fall after blooms fade. Use sharp, clean pruning shears to cut the plant back to a uniform height removing all wilted ice flowers. This will discourage seed production and help plants conserve energy for a more vibrant appearance.

Why is my Ice Plant not blooming? ›

Your Ice plant may fail to bloom due to insufficient exposure to light, nutrient deficiency, and exposure to unfavorable climatic conditions. The best way to encourage your ice plant to produce flowers is by ensuring it gets plenty of sunlight and applying slow-release fertilizers that promote blooms.

How does a ice plant work? ›

This ice making process involves heat transfer/extraction from the water with the help of basic refrigeration techniques. This ice plant uses 'brine' and 'Ammonia' as refrigerants, and working medium alternatively. The function of an ice plant or ice factory is to make or form ice in large quantities and in large size.

What do you feed ice plants? ›

Salty ice plant requires little feeding, as do many plants that thrive in coastal areas. So don't worry about fertilizing. This plant does well in all soil types and keeps going. If you do fertilize, dig in well-rotted manure, or use a well-balanced fertilizer once during fall.

How do you grow an ice plant from a cutting? ›

How To Grow and Propagate Cold Hardy Ice Plant (Carpobrotus ...

Is Ice Plant an indoor plant? ›

Light is essential to the Ice Plant for it to grow healthy and strong. Growing the plant indoors might prove to be a challenge as they relish under direct sunlight for optimal growth. Aphids and Mealybugs are the most common pests associated with Ice Plants.

What season do ice plants grow? ›

During springs or early summers, take 5-6 inches long cutting from a mature plant. Let it form a callus and plant it in a container filled with a well-draining potting mix. Water well and keep the pot at any sunny location.

Can I grow an Ice Plant indoors? ›

Indoors, the bright, direct light of a south- or west-facing window will suffice. Outdoors, the plant needs full sun throughout the day or, in hot climates, full morning sun and partial afternoon shade. Light, well-drained soil provides the best growing medium for ice plant.

What kills ice plant? ›

Remarks: Glyphosate is the only chemical option registered in California that has been shown to effectively kill Carpobrotus edulis or other iceplant species.

How long should you water an ice plant? ›

Water the ice plant deeply every seven to 10 days while taking into account any rainfall or especially dry or light climate conditions. Water the soil to a depth of at least 7 to 12 inches so the root ball is completely soaked. Inadequate watering will result in the plant withering and dying.

How long does an ice plant last? ›

Ice plant flowers grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 5-9 and will bloom for most of the summer and fall. Their foliage is mostly evergreen and, because of this, they make a great year-round ground cover.

How do you get ice plants to bloom? ›

To make your Ice plant bloom, you need to give them only feeding that is low on nitrogen. A nitrogen-rich fertilizer or soil will result in your plant growing too much leaves and other green growth, but no flowers. In order to make your Ice plant bloom, make sure that the soil or the fertilizer are not nitrogen-heavy.

Why are my ice plants turning yellow? ›

Growing Problems

If they get too much moisture, ice plants' foliage will wither, turn yellow, and die. You should be watering ice plant delosperma or lampranthus very sparsely. It's also essential to have well-drained soil. If your ice plant shows signs of overwatering, quickly transplant it into sandier soil.

How long does it take for Ice Plant cuttings to root? ›

It will take about 3 weeks for roots to appear, but once they set, the plant will grow very quickly, so choose good cuttings from the start.

Why is my ice plant turning pink? ›

The color intensifies as the plant matures and with more sun exposure. Oscularia Deltoides produces bright magenta-pink flowers that can surround and cover the whole plant. These are low-growing plants that sprawl and spread out as they grow.

Does ice plant spread quickly? ›

This fast-growing, perennial groundcover spreads quickly and requires minimal maintenance. While drought-tolerant, it requires occasional water at least once per month. It needs full sun and good drainage and is easy to propagate. Prune off fleshy stems and re-plant them in amended, well-draining soil.

How do you fertilize ice plants? ›

You'll find that growing your ice plant successfully doesn't require a lot of added soil amendments and fertilizers. In fact, it's recommended you dilute an organic liquid fertilizer like Bush Doctor Flower Kiss 1.0-0.30-0.05 with double the amount of water advised on the packaging.

Why is it called Ice Plant? ›

They are called ice plant because they have bladder-like hairs on the leaf surface that reflect and refract light in a manner to make it appear that they sparkle like ice crystals.

How do you grow ice plants from flats? ›

Soil and Planting

Space the cuttings 6 to 24 inches apart for trailing species, using closer spacings for quicker coverage. Dig a hole just a little larger than the roots at the cutting's base. Put the roots in the hole, cover them with soil and tamp the soil firmly in place.

Why is my Ice Plant not growing? ›

The Ice Plant thrives in dry soil that has excellent drainage. If the soil is dense like clay, your plant will not grow. The best soil is sandy or gravelly soil with minimal or no nutrients. Place your Ice plant in a container with a well-draining medium.

Do you cut back ice plant? ›

Prune in the fall after blooms fade. Use sharp, clean pruning shears to cut the plant back to a uniform height removing all wilted ice flowers. This will discourage seed production and help plants conserve energy for a more vibrant appearance.

How long does an ice plant last? ›

Ice plant flowers grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 5-9 and will bloom for most of the summer and fall. Their foliage is mostly evergreen and, because of this, they make a great year-round ground cover.

Do ice plants come back every year? ›

Do Ice Plants Come Back Every Year? Even though this plant stays evergreen most of the year, the foliage experience dieback during the winter season. However, new growth emerges from the seed during the early to the late spring season.

Is ice plant an indoor plant? ›

Light is essential to the Ice Plant for it to grow healthy and strong. Growing the plant indoors might prove to be a challenge as they relish under direct sunlight for optimal growth. Aphids and Mealybugs are the most common pests associated with Ice Plants.

What kills ice plant? ›

Remarks: Glyphosate is the only chemical option registered in California that has been shown to effectively kill Carpobrotus edulis or other iceplant species.

How do you multiply ice plants? ›

You can propagate ice plants through cuttings or seeds. Propagation through cuttings is the most popular method because all you need to do is cut off a piece of the plant's stem, allow it time to callous and insert it in a well-draining potting mix.

Why did my ice plant stop flowering? ›

Insufficient Exposure To Light. Like most flowering plants, Ice plants do not thrive well in partial shade. They may fail to produce blooms due to inadequate light since they tend to lose their vigor when kept indoors as ornamentals.

How do you know when your ice plant needs water? ›

Dry Conditions

Water the soil to a depth of at least 7 to 12 inches so the root ball is completely soaked. Inadequate watering will result in the plant withering and dying. If wilting is observed, the plant needs water.

Does ice plant spread quickly? ›

This fast-growing, perennial groundcover spreads quickly and requires minimal maintenance. While drought-tolerant, it requires occasional water at least once per month. It needs full sun and good drainage and is easy to propagate. Prune off fleshy stems and re-plant them in amended, well-draining soil.

Do ice plants need fertilizer? ›

You'll find that growing your ice plant successfully doesn't require a lot of added soil amendments and fertilizers. In fact, it's recommended you dilute an organic liquid fertilizer like Bush Doctor Flower Kiss 1.0-0.30-0.05 with double the amount of water advised on the packaging.

Why are my ice plant leaves turning yellow? ›

Growing Problems

If they get too much moisture, ice plants' foliage will wither, turn yellow, and die. You should be watering ice plant delosperma or lampranthus very sparsely. It's also essential to have well-drained soil. If your ice plant shows signs of overwatering, quickly transplant it into sandier soil.

Videos

1. ICE PLANT CARE | Delosperma | potting . watering . sunlight
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2. How to grow and care Ice Plants || Ice plant care tips
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3. Corpuscularia lehmannii "Ice Plant" has a deceptive name
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4. Care of Ice Plant || How to Grow and Care Ice Plant || Fun Gardening
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5. Succulent Ice Plants for Your Garden: How to Select, Use & Combine
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6. Ice Plant Succulent, Delosperma ❄️⛄️❄️ How to Overwinter in Cold Climates
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