Aptenia Cordifolia Care: Growing The Baby Sun Rose

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Aptenia cordifolia (ap-TEE-nee-uh kor-dif-FOLE-ee-uh) is a succulent perennial and member of the Fig-marigold family Aizoaceae along with mid-day flowers and baby toes succulents. 

This plant hails from South Africa in the rainfall regions and the coastal areas in the Eastern Cape of Africa. It is also found growing wild in KwaZulu-Natal.

Bloom of the Aptenia cordifolia - baby sun rosePin
Bright pink bloom and heart-shaped leaves of Aptenia cordifolia – Baby Sun rose

The plant’s genus name, Aptenia, comes from the Greek, apten, which means wingless. This refers to the wingless seeds of the plant. 

The specific epithet is a derivative of the Latin, cordi, which means heart, combined with folium, which means leaf.

Common names include:



  • Heartleaf Ice plant
  • Baby Sun Rose Plant
  • Red Aptenia

The Baby Sunrose is also known by the synonym “Mesembryanthemum cordifolia,” which is also a variegated version of the plant – Aptenia cordifolia variegata.

Baby Sun Rose Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Tips: Botanical Name: Aptenia Cordifolia
  • Common Name(s): Heartleaf Ice Plant, Baby Sun Rose
  • Synonyms: Mesembryanthemum cordifolium, Aptenia haeckeliana
  • Family & Origin: Aizoaceae family, native to South Africa
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 9-10
  • Size: Grows up to 6′ inches tall and spreads up to 2′ feet wide
  • Flowering: Blooms from spring to fall with pink or magenta flowers
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
  • Temperature: Tolerates temperatures as low as 20°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Drought-tolerant, water only when soil is dry
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize once a month during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Generally pest and disease-free, but can be susceptible to root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Propagate through stem cuttings or division
  • Plant Uses: Groundcover, container plant, rock gardens, and hanging baskets.

In this article, we’ll delve into the proper Baby Sun rose plant care.

Aptenia Cordifolia Care

Taking care of the sunrose plant is relatively easy. This includes providing proper baby sun rose care to ensure beautiful and healthy growth.

Size and Growth

Aptenia cordifolia is a low-growing ground cover forming a dense mat very close to the soil surface. 

Individual plants grow to be no more than 6″ inches high and 1′ or 2′ feet across.

The stems of the heartleaf Ice plant may be rounded or four-angled. 

They grow very close to the ground, making contact with the soil and setting down roots as they creep along.

The green leaves may be heart-shaped or oval. 

When well-watered, they are quite fleshy. However, when water is scarce, they flatten.

Because the water cells are located close to the surface of the Aptenia ice plant, both the stems and the leaves have a shiny appearance.

Flowering and Fragrance

The colorful flowers of the Ice baby plant come in bright pink, red, yellow, and purple shades and are very attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. 

The small flowers appear individually, in clusters at the ends of stems and also in the forks of the plants’ branches. 

Lengthy bloom time extends from late summer through early spring. 

The flowers open during the sunniest part of the day and close in the evening. 

Flowers transition into four-chambered, black/brown seeds.

When grown in a hanging basket, baby sunrose plant will also attract hummingbirds.

Baby Rose Plant Light and Temperature

Aptenia cordifolia likes full sun, but it will burn the plant quickly when exposed to direct sunlight.

Moreover, it can survive in semi-shade or partial shade. But it will lose its color under low light conditions.

If kept in indirect sunlight, it’s the best choice because it produces greener foliage. 

Heartleaf Ice plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 10. 

It can survive in slightly cooler settings, but the plant will die back to ground level in freezing temperatures.

Keep this attractive succulent indoors as a houseplant year-round. It is especially attractive when kept in a hanging basket.

Watering and Feeding

The hardy Aptenia cordifolia plant can tolerate high rainfall and extreme drought, so it can do quite well even with irregular watering. 

Even so, water the plant regularly, like any cactus or succulent, for best performance. 

Wait until the soil is almost completely dry, and then water deeply.

Once established, keep the soil on the dry side to prevent root rot.

Use a controlled-release fertilizer to feed the plant two times annually, once in the early springtime and again late in the summertime, to provide essential nutrients.

Regarding humidity levels, the Baby ice plant needs average humidity to thrive.

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Soil and Transplanting

Red Aptenia is tolerant of almost any pH level in the soil. 

The best choices for soil consistency include sand and loamy mixes. A well-draining medium will also work well.

To plant outside, be sure to prepare the garden bed thoroughly. 

Till the soil and incorporate a slow-release fertilizer along with ample compost. 

Your goal is to have well-draining soil feeding your plant steadily.

Place the plants 2′ or 3′ feet apart to provide ample space for them to spread. 

If planting near a driveway or a sidewalk, remember to leave a couple of feet of space between the plant and the drive or walkway. 

The plants will grow to fill in the space without encroaching.

Grooming and Maintenance

Prune or trim Aptenia cordifolia as needed to help maintain the shape you want and to prevent having Baby sunrose succulent ramble over driveways, walkways, and other areas where it is unwanted.

Early in the springtime, trim plants to remove any stems damaged during the winter.

You can also trim the plant back and remove stringy stems if it’s flowing on the side of a pot or over a wall to encourage new growth.

In addition, keep this succulent from locations where extreme heat is coming, including open windows, air conditioners, and heaters.

Baby Sun Rose Propagation

It’s easy to grow the Heartleaf Ice plant from either cuttings or seeds. 

Here’s hhow to propagate baby sun rose from cuttings:

Just make a cut above the node where the leaf emerges in the stem and press the stems from pruning into soft soil. 

They will soon set roots and begin to grow.

To plant from seed, sow the seeds into a well-prepared garden bed during summer.

It’s also possible to propagate this plant through division by removing a piece from the parent plant.

Baby Sun Rose plant with delicate flowersPin

Baby Sun Rose Problems: Pests Or Diseases

For the most part, Baby sun rose succulent is a problem-free plant as long as you don’t overwater. 

If left standing in water, this succulent plant will develop root rot. 

This will cause chlorosis and poor growth, eventually killing the plant.

Lack of water may also lead to other common problems like wilting, leaf spots, and the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Moreover, common pests may also occasionally attack this plant. These insects include:

  • Aphids
  • Mealybugs
  • Mites
  • Spider mites
  • Scales
  • Whiteflies

To prevent infestations, you can repot it or rub alcohol on the infected area.

Is Aptenia Considered Toxic Or Poisonous?

Heartleaf Ice plant is not toxic, but the sap is mildly irritating.

It’s best to keep kids and pets away.

Is The Aptenia Plant Considered Invasive?

Red Aptenia has a lot of weed potential because it spreads easily. 

It has been naturalized in Oregon, California, and Florida.

It is not currently considered a problem species in Florida, but it bears watching. 

It’s a popular groundcover in southern Florida and could easily escape the garden setting and become a problem.

In California, the Heartleaf Ice plant grows vigorously in moist areas and near wetlands. 

It is considered invasive.

It is also considered invasive in Australia, where it has escaped from garden settings and threatens the coastal dune areas and native groundcovers.

Suggested Aptenia Cordifolia Uses

Aptenia cordifolia requires little care and thrives in your garden’s hottest, sunniest, full-sun areas. 

It makes an excellent choice if you need a succulent ground cover for an open, exposed area. 

As an added benefit, it provides very good erosion control.

The rambling growth habits make Aptenia cordifolia a lovely choice for your rock garden or tumbling over a rock wall. 

It also makes an excellent starter when you’re establishing a landscape.

This salt-tolerant heartleaf ice plant works well on roadside embankments, terraced slopes, and seaside gardens.

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