Caring For Delosperma Cooperi

Delosperma cooperi (del-oh-SPUR-muh koo-PER-ee) is a South African native performing well in the United States in USDA hardiness zones 7 and above. 

The plant is an enthusiastically growing, succulent, evergreen groundcover growing naturally on the desert plateaus and dry mountainous regions of South Africa.

Blooming Delosperma Cooperi a popular Ice Plant
Flowering Delosperma Cooperi | HappyWindow – DepositPhotos

A member of the Aizoaceae family, this herbaceous perennial is commonly known as:

  • Purple Ice Plant
  • Hardy Ice Plant
  • Pink Carpet
  • Ice Plant

The plants’ genus name is derived from a combination of the Greek words, Delos, which means “evident” and sperma, which means “seeds.” 

This is a reference to the fact the seeds of the plant are exposed.

The specific epithet is in honor of Thomas Cooper, an English gardener who found and collected specimens of this interesting succulent in South Africa in the mid-1800s.

Delosperma Cooperi Care

Size & Growth

  • Ice Plant typically grows to a maximum height of about 6″ inches. 
  • Individual plants may have a spread as broad as 2′ feet. 
  • Over time, the plant will appear to attain greater heights because of new growth forms on top of old, dead growth. 
  • In this way, a stand of Purple Ice Plant may grow to be about 3′ feet high.
  • The medium green leaves are quite fleshy and are cylindrical in shape. 
  • The foliage bears a coating of slightly glossy, transparent flakes looking like ice. 
  • This is the source of the common name.
  • The succulent foliage can provide some fall color as it darkens when the temperatures drop. 
  • In warmer climates, the foliage simply stays evergreen.

Flowering & Fragrance

This succulent ground cover produces masses of pretty, daisy-like flowers in shades of reddish-purple throughout the summer months and into early autumn. 

The brightly colored flowers are usually about 2″ inches in diameter. 

They’re very attractive to bees and other pollinators.

Light & Temperature

Hardy Ice Plant is actually quite sensitive to very cold temperatures and does not do well in USDA hardiness zones north of zone 7, where it is often used as an annual. 

For best performance, Ice Plant should be planted in full sun in a warm climate. 

In slightly cooler climates getting light snow, winter mulching can protect the plants’ roots and allow it to return year after year.

Watering & Feeding

This drought-tolerant succulent should be watered sparingly during its growing season. 

Provide deep watering once every couple of weeks if you have not had any rainfall. 

Otherwise, Ice Plant should do well with natural rain.

Allow the plants to dry out thoroughly before the arrival of winter. 

They should overwinter without moisture.

If you expect snowfall, mulch the plants well with straw or some other dry mulch to prevent water accumulation around the roots.

Fertilizing is usually not necessary, but it’s not a bad idea to provide a dose of organic fertilizer before winter sets in. 

If you overdo it, you may threaten the plants’ ability to survive the winter.

Soil & Transplanting

Like most succulents, Pink Carpet prefers dry, sharply draining soil with a neutral pH level. 

If you have poorly draining soil, the plant will not thrive and may die. 

If your soil has a high clay content, you must amend it before planting Ice Plant. 

Be sure to add plenty of gravel and sand for the best results.

In a cooler climate, get your Ice Plants in the ground by mid-summer so they can become well established before winter. 

In warm climates, wait until autumn to plant if you wish.

Remember to give your plants plenty of room to spread. 

Individual plants should be spaced 15″ to 18″ inches apart.

Grooming & Maintenance

To prevent having your Ice Plant pile upon itself and become too tall, be sure to prune out the winter-killed stems in the springtime to get a fresh start every year.

How To Propagate Hardy Ice Plant

As with most succulents, if you want to propagate Ice Plant, do so using stem cuttings. 

These are started in water, or simply poke the ends of the stems into the soil, and they will soon be flourishing.

Hardy Ice Plant Main Pest or Disease Problems

For the most part, Hardy Ice Plant is not subject to serious pest attacks. 

As with most succulents, mealybugs and aphids may be problematic on occasion. 

Being certain your plants have plenty of good air circulation, and light and airy soil will help prevent this problem. 

If aphids or mealybugs do show up, give the hard spray of water with the garden hose to knock them off.

Is The Plant Considered Toxic Or Poisonous?

Even though Pink Carpet is very resistant to squirrels and deer, it has no toxic properties. 

It is safe for cats, dogs, horses, and children.

Is The Plant Considered Invasive?

This enthusiastic grower can become invasive in conducive environments. 

If you live in a very warm setting, take care not to allow it to escape your garden.

Suggested Delosperma Cooperi Uses

Ice Plant is an excellent choice for erosion control, as a groundcover or to naturalize over large areas. 

Individual plants make nice additions to desert gardens and rock gardens. 

The plant looks great used as an edging plant if you don’t mind working to keep it in place.

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