Carpobrotus acinaciformis (L.) L. Bolus
Sally-my-handsome, Giant Pigface, Elands Sourfig, Hottentot Fig, Sour Fig, Horse Fig, Creeping Fig, Pigface, Ice Plant, Highway Ice Plant,
Carpobrotus acinaciformis is a fast-growing succulent that forms a dense mat of trailing stems with yellowish to grass-green leaves, often red-tinged at the edges. The stems grow up to 3.2 feet (2 m) long. Leaves are triangular in cross-section and arranged in opposite pairs. They are up to 5.2 inches (13 cm) long and 0.7 inches (1.8 cm) thick. The solitary flowers are brilliant pink-violet to dark magenta. They are daisy-like with many stamens surrounding a starfish-like stigma, up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, and appear at the end of a short stalk mainly in spring and summer. The edible fruits are yellow, up to 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) in diameter, and fragrant when ripe.
USDA hardiness zones 7a to 9b: from 0 °F (−17.8 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Carpobrotus plants are notoriously unfussy. As long as their soil drains well, the soil is allowed to dry out between watering, and the plant receives pinching or pruning to keep it in shape; there is little more to be done.
The only serious health threats to the plant are spittlebugs and some root and stem rots. You can avoid the rot by minimizing overhead watering during periods when the plant will not dry off before nightfall. The bugs will remove themselves if you spray them with horticultural soap.
Growing Carpobrotus in containers is ideal, and you can overwinter them in temperate regions. Just bring the pot in and water it deeply. Cut back the plant, let it dry out, and languish for the winter in a warm location. In spring, resume regular watering and move the plant to a full light situation with some protection from burning rays. Gradually reintroduce the plant to temperatures outdoors until it can tolerate a full day outside.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Carpobrotus.
This species is native to the coastal dunes of the Western Cape, South Africa.
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