Ice plant is a succulent that’s native to South Africa and comes in both shrub and ground-covering varieties. The best part? It’s super easy to grow and propagate, making it a great addition to any flower garden. Let’s dive in!
What Is an Ice Plant?
The Ice Plant (Aizoaceae) is an herbaceous perennial succulent that produces red, purple, orange, yellow, and pink flowers in the summer and fall. The Ice Plant will thrive when planted in full sun and a region with a dry climate.
The mature size of the shrub variety will be 12-14 inches. The ground-covering varieties will reach about 6 inches tall and 2 feet wide when mature. These attractive plants are ideal for growing in a rock garden or on a sloped area where the soil will remain dry.
The plants grow quickly and will fill in empty spots in the landscape within 1-2 seasons. Cuttings from existing Ice Plants are easy to take so the plants can be propagated.
How To Propagate Ice Plants
Ice Plants will naturally propagate themselves when left alone. The plants will spread and self-seed as they mature and bear flowers. However, if you want to hurry the propagation process or create new plants for another location, propagating Ice Plants from cuttings is a simple task.
Ice Plant Propagation by cuttings
Spring is the best time of year to grow Ice plants.
- First of all, use a sharp knife to take an Ice Plant cutting. The plant will send out runners and each spot along the runner that comes into contact with the soil will create a new Ice Plant.
- Slice the runner with your knife to cut it loose from the parent plant and re-plant it in-ground or a container at the same depth it was growing.
- Pat soil down gently and dampen the soil after transplanting.
- When a plant outgrows its space, cut the plant in half by slicing down through the roots in the center of the plant.
- Remove each half from the soil and replant each half in a suitable growing location at the same depth it was at in its’ original growing location.
- Gently pat down the soil to remove all air pockets and dampen the soil around the plants.
As mentioned before, Ice plants are perfectly capable of propagating themselves when left alone. The seeds reside in small pods at the base of the ice plant flowers. These pods will dry and burst open when the seeds are mature. Many of the seeds that fall to the ground will germinate and new plants will grow.
The seed pods can also be harvested from healthy plants just before they burst open and new plants can be started from them in a desired location. Ice Plants will grow when planted in containers or the soil as long as their sun and soil needs are met.
Seed starting: Start with a sterile potting mix and place seeds on top of the mix. Gently press down (do not cover seeds) and moisten the soil. Place the seed container in a warm location and keep the soil moist. Your plant seeds will germinate in 21-28 days.
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Re-potting an Ice plant
Ice Plants grow well in containers when the proper potting mix is used and the plants are kept in full sun (unlike the Mango tree), but as the plants mature, they often will outgrow their containers and need to be divided.
Unfortunately, one Ice Plant will not last indefinitely in a container (or when grown outdoors in the ground), new plants will need to be propagated from cuttings each spring. The good news is, that a container of Ice Plants can be over-wintered and kept alive in a sheltered location for the creation of new plants the following spring.
- Place the container in a location that will protect the plant from freezing and reduce watering. The plant will go into a semi-dormant stage and will begin to actively grow when the weather warms in the spring.
- It’s time to propagate and re-pot the plant at the first sign of new growth.
- Use a potting mix that is formulated for succulents and containers that have plenty of bottom drainage holes that will allow the soil to drain excess water quickly.
Keep in mind: Root rot will occur if the plant is allowed to set in soggy soil for too long. A layer of decorative pebbles placed on top of the potting mix will help keep the plant leaves dry.
This hardy plant -similar to pumpkins or tomatoes – requires minimal care once it becomes established in the right location. Ice Plant needs full sun and sandy, well-draining soil. Prune dead or diseased stems in the early spring and feed immediately after pruning with a slow-release plant food that is formulated for flowering plants.
Water sparingly. As members of the succulent family, Ice Plants prefer dry climates and dry soil. Water every other week just until the soil is damp.
The Ice Plant will form a dense mat of fleshy foliage that reflect the light and sparkle like ice crystals in the sun. The foliage starts pale green in spring and darkens throughout the summer and into fall.
The daisy-like flowers come in a wide array of colors and can last for weeks during the summer. Ice Plant flowers may appear for a second time during the late summer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to propagate Heartleaf Ice plant?
- Take a cutting with many leaves and remove all of the bottom foliage.
- Place the cutting in a see-through glass filled with water. Do not allow the leaves to touch the water leave or they will rot and the cutting will be lost.
- Place the container in a bright location and watch for a root system to develop.
- Plant in the soil as soon as roots are visible.
How to propagate Ice Plant cuttings?
Cut new plants free from the parent plant or divide a large plant in half and re-plant in suitable soil and location (lots of sunlight and warmth).
How to propagate a Pink Ice plant?
- Take a 2-inch stem cutting and lay it on a white paper towel for 24 hours to dry.
- Dip the cut end into rooting hormone and then place it in a well-draining potting mix.
- Place the container in a bright location but not in direct sunlight until a new root system has become established.