Delosperma Plants

Ground cover or edging for hot, dry locations

The Delosperma genus contains herbaceous perennials, commonly called hardy ice plants. Some species bloom mainly in late spring, but others bloom all summer and even into fall. A relative newcomer, ice plants are recognized by their masses of bright, neon-colored blooms blanketing lush, fleshy, succulent foliage. Numerous bladder-like cells or hairs on the leaf and stem surfaces sparkle in the light, creating the appearance of frost, hence the common name ice plant. The flowers are typically daisylike and satiny. Most are pink or yellow shades, but they are also available in white, magenta, and lavender. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Delosperma is a genus of about 150 species. Most cultivated varieties are hybrids, but D. cooperi is a popular species in the market. Ice plants grow vigorously, and although some are trailing, most have low, spreading, mat-forming habits of cylindrical to tongue-like foliage, similar to sedum, which may be evergreen in warm winter climates and exhibit ruby tints. Typically staying under half-a-foot tall and about 2 feet wide and having a tough constitution, they are best used as ground cover. Ice plants are perfect for xeriscapes, waterwise landscapes, and containers, especially in cold climates where they may need to be overwintered indoors. They also make good houseplants.

Ice plant prefers full sun and dry, well-drained soil. It grows in sandy or gravelly soils but will suffer or die in heavy, wet soils; however, it is more tolerant of wet conditions than most succulents. The plant is heat and drought tolerant and deer and rabbit resistant.