Ice Plant Ground Cover: What You Need To Know

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The ice plant is the common name of the popular Delosperma Cooperi (Del-oh-SPUR-muh Koo-PER-ee) species.

However, there are many other plants called the common name “ice plant.”

ice plant Pin
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This drought-tolerant plant is a perennial ground cover succulent native to South Africa.

It produces aster-like flowers, which bloom all summer long.

It is commonly grown in sunny locations as a ground cover and for erosion control.

The plant grows around 3” to 6” inches high and spread 2” to 4” inches.

It has fleshy foliage, which turns a darker shade of green as the temperature starts dropping.

However, it stays evergreen in the southern areas.

The ice plant comprises a wide variety of cold-hardy plants, including Delosperma Fire Spinner, Alan’s Apricot, and Delosperma Congestum.

When the light reflects on the leaves and flowers of this plant, it creates a shimmering effect as though the plant is covered in ice crystals or frosts; hence, its common name.

The other common names of this deer-resistant plant include:

  • Pink carpet
  • Hardy ice plant
  • Purple ice plant

Ice Plant Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Mesembryanthemum crystallinum
  • Common Name(s): Ice Plant, Common Ice Plant, Hottentot Fig, Ice Plant Succulent
  • Synonyms: None
  • Family & Origin: Aizoaceae family, native to South Africa
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 5-9
  • Size: Grows up to 3-6′ inches tall and 2-4′ inches wide
  • Flowering: Blooms in summer with white or pink flowers
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
  • Temperature: Tolerates high temperatures but not frost
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Drought-tolerant, water only when soil is dry
  • Fertilizer: Not necessary, but can be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season
  • Pests & Diseases: Generally pest and disease-free, but can be susceptible to root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Propagated by stem cuttings or by sowing seeds
  • Plant Uses: Used as a ground cover, in rock gardens, or as a container plant. The leaves are edible and can be used in salads.

Is Ice Plant A Good Ground Cover?

The ice plant has evergreen foliage and a fast growth rate, which makes this plant an excellent option to use as a perennial groundcover.

It also attracts various pollinators, making any landscape livelier.

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 late spring season.

Is Ice Plant Invasive?

Many of the varieties of ice plants spread up to 24” inches wide and are invasive in certain areas.

Therefore, it is best to plant it accordingly.

Aside from making an excellent succulent ground cover plant, it is also used in rock gardens, as an edging plant, in desert gardens, or on slopes.

How Do You Grow A Hardy Ice Plant?

The ice plant care has no specific preference regarding the soil type, and they thrive even in poor soils as long as there is good drainage.

However, it performs best in sandy and dry soils or gravelly soils where it may spread freely, creating a good ice plant ground cover. 

It doesn’t require much rich soil and won’t grow in dense clay soil.

Make sure to plant these plants in a well-draining soil mixture in sunny locations. Also, fall planting is preferred in hot climates.

It is best to plant during the mid-summer season if you live in colder areas and during the fall season if you are living in warmer regions.

Moreover, ice plants thrive in humidity, heat, and little water.

Make sure there is sufficient room between plants to help them grow properly. Aside from this, these plants require easy care.

Prune out any dead stems or leaves every spring season and give them a small dose of fertilizer yearly.

Do Ice Plants Bloom All Summer?

The ice plants typically produce pink flowers or purple flowers with white centers when growing in the USDA zones or hardiness zones 5 to 9 and have a long blooming period.

The usual bloom time of these daisy-like flowers is during spring or early summer.

The flower color of other varieties ranges from magenta, scarlet, orange, and yellow flowers.

How Much Water Do Ice Plants Need?

Since this plant is drought resistant, be sure to water it sparingly.

Water the ice plants every two weeks during their growing season, mainly where there hasn’t been any rainfall.

Be sure to let the plant dry out completely before the winter months arrive to help it survive.

If snow is expected, add dry mulch around the plant to keep them dry. 

Remember not to water this plant during the hard frost in the winter because the leaves may shrink due to lack of moisture.

You may also put on a frost blanket during the coldest months.

Should I Deadhead The Ice Plant?

The ice plant is a low-maintenance plant and doesn’t require much pruning.

While deadheading most of the plants leads to more blossoms throughout the season, it doesn’t have much impact on the Drosanthemum genus in the ice plant family.

However, you may still deadhead the spent flowers to keep the plant compact and neat.

How Far Apart Do You Plant Ice Plants?

Ideally, plant the cuttings about 15” to 18” inches apart.

If you want quicker coverage, then closer spacing is recommended.

How Much Sun Do Ice Plants Need?

Ice plants love to grow under the full sun.

All varieties grow best with the right amount of sun exposure and produce their best blooms.

Make sure this plant has at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

How Long Do Ice Plants Bloom?

The daisy-like flowers of ice plants blossom throughout the spring season with repeat blooms – however, some varieties, including Lampranthus Spectabilis bloom throughout the summer season.

The petals typically open when the plant is under the sun.

Why Are My Ice Plants Dying?

The primary reason ice plants start withering or dying is 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.

How Do You Fertilize Ice Plants?

The ice plants don’t require much fertilizer and thrive even without it.

You may feed this plant by adding slow-release fertilizer or compost when planting and give them another dose during the fall season.

Keep in mind too much fertilizer will prevent the ability of this plant to survive the winters.

Moreover, remember to mulch them when you live in colder climates.

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