Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Ice plants are interesting succulents with daisy-like flowers. There are both tender and hardy species. These are members of the Aizoaceae family.
Hardy ice plant (Delosperma spp.)
In recent years, these have become a popular choice for perennial beds and borders. They are also used in rock gardens.
Hardy ice plants have spreading stems that lie on the ground or cascade over the edges of pots. The tiny, bright green leaves cover the stems. The size, shape, and color can vary slightly from one species or kind to another. The flowers come in a wide range of shades as well.
Ice plant (Lampranthus spp.)
There are several ice plant species in this group. These are native to South Africa with the different species being named for their flower colors. This explains why there is a red ice plant, a pink ice plant, and a golden ice plant.
These ice plants are mostly creeping or trailing perennials though some can develop a woody-like stem under some circumstances.
Some of these have escaped from cultivation and naturalized in California. Depending on the species, the angled leaves may be linear or rounded.
Ice plant (Drosanthemum spp.)
Native to South Africa, there are several species of this ice plant. With low growing stems that tend to creep, they form cushion-like plants. The flower color can vary, depending on the species. Usually they will be purple, coral pink, or reddish-orange.
True Ice Plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)
Though this was originally native to Africa, it has now naturalized in various warm regions of the world from the Mediterranean to California. True ice plant is an annual with creeping branching stems. A shallow rooted plant, it has attractive fleshy, spatula-shaped foliage that is held closely together on the stems.
The plant is named for the ice-crystal like color on the leaves. The lovely blooms open from mid summer onward on sunny days. These daisy-like blossoms are a little over an inch in diameter. They’re purple tinged with white.
This species tend to self sow very easily.