Growing Carpobrotus Chilensis: How To Care For The Succulent Sea Fig

Carpobrotus Chilensis (kar-poh-BROH-tus chil-ee-EN-sis) is a succulent plant that belongs to the Aizoaceae or fig-marigold family. It is also known as Mesembryanthemum chilensis.

It’s a species of the Carpobrotus genus and native to southern Africa but has become introduced as an invasive species in North America.

This variety of ice plant can also be found in countries such as Spain, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador and Argentina.

flowering sea fig ice plant

It is mostly found in warm and subtropical landscapes commonly along roadsides and along the coast.

Carpobrotus Chilensis Ice Plant Care

Size & Growth

This plant has a slow growth rate and isn’t very tall, only about 6” to 12” inches with a width of 18” to 24” inches. It is hardy to grown in USDA zones 9a to 11.

Flowering and Fragrance

Like other flowers in the Carpobrotus genus, Ice Plant also blooms with beautiful flowers that are open during the morning and close during the night.

The flowers are a shade of rich magenta and have a relatively small diameter.

They can be in bloom all year round and generally do not have a strong fragrance.

Light & Temperature

Ice Plant is a light loving plant and can withstand direct sunlight however if you live in a very hot climate, your plant would do well with some light shade during harsh sunlight hours.

Ideal temperatures are between 40° to 100° degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering and Feeding

Like most succulent plants, this plant likes little fuss when it comes to watering. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings in order to keep from overwatering.

If you’re not careful about how much water you are using, you could risk root and stem rots.

This plant will still thrive even with a little bit of neglect because it is drought tolerant.

Ice Plant should be fed with a balanced liquid fertilizer after the plant has gone through its first flowering.

Generally speaking though, this plant has low feeding needs. You can feed it with organic fertilizer during the fall months.

Soil & Transplanting

Ice Plant does well in poorer, sandy soils but requires good drainage. Ideal choices would be loam or clay. It is also able to thrive in saline soils.

Grooming and Maintenance

If you are not going to bring your plants indoors during the winter and live in colder climates, consider covering your plants with a frost blanket to protect them.

You can also prepare your plants for the winter by depriving them of water during the fall so they become more cold-hardy.

Other Ice Plants of Interest:

How To Propagate Sea Fig

Ice Plant can be propagated through seeds or cuttings.

For cuttings, make sure you take a healthy stem during a point in the plant’s growing season. Allow the cut to dry in the sunlight for a few days.

Once the cut has dried over, you can plant it in a container or pot of your choice with a sandy mixture of soil.

Keep your plant moist until you see it has taken root.

Propagation through seeds will take about 7 to 10 days.

You should sow the seeds in containers and wait until they are large enough to safely transplant and move them to individual containers.

Let them grow until they are large enough to plant outdoors.

Ice Plant Pest and Disease Problems

These are fairly resistant plants and can withstand some foot traffic as well as a fair amount of neglect.

It is, however, susceptible to root and stem rot if it is overwatered so care should be taken to not let the plant sit in water.

If consuming the plant, you should take care not to eat too much else it can have strong laxative effects.

Suggested Sea Fig Plant Uses

These plants are great for ornamental purposes and can be grown as groundcover or kept as houseplants or as part of a rock garden because of their attractive appearance and easy maintenance needs. More on ice plant groundcovers.

This plant is edible and can be used in a number of ways both raw and cooked. In its raw form, the leaves can be used as salads and the fruit can be used to makes pickles, chutneys, or eaten raw.

Ice plant is also used for medicinal purposes as the juice from the leaves is considered to be an antiseptic.

A diluted solution of this juice can be used to treat ailments such as cramps, diarrhea, sore throats, mouth infections, and laryngitis.

The juice can also be applied on burns, cuts, and used to help skin conditions such as sunburns, rashes, insect bites and eczema.

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