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Delosperma cooperi (Purple Ice Plant)

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Scientific Name

Delosperma cooperi (Hook.f.) L.Bolus

Common Names

Hardy Ice Plant, Trailing Ice Plant, Pink Carpet, Purple Ice Plant, Hardy Purple Ice Plant, Cooper's Ice Plant, Cooper's Hardy Ice Plant

Synonyms

Mesembryanthemum cooperi

Scientific Classification

Family: Aizoaceae
Subfamily: Ruschioideae
Tribe: Ruschieae
Genus: Delosperma

Description

Delosperma cooperi is a mat-forming succulent with trailing stems, needle-like leaves, and daisy-like flowers. It grows up to 6 inches tall (15 cm) with a spread of 24 inches (60 cm). Leaves are light green, nearly cylindrical, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long, and up to 0.25 inch (0.6 cm) in diameter. It blooms continuously from early summer to fall. Flowers are produced in such quantities that they literally cover the foliage.

Specific epithet "cooperi" honors English gardener Thomas Cooper (1815-1913), who collected plants in South Africa from 1859 to 1862.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 5a to 9b: from −20 °F (−28.9 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

How to Grow and Care

This succulent is indigenous to South Africa, where it is an evergreen. Belying its origin, this hardy perennial can be grown in USDA zones 5 to 9. At the northern end of this range, however, note two things:

  1. Winter hardiness is not a given. Purple Ice Plant may not survive a difficult winter in USDA zone 5.
  2. Its leaves will not be evergreen, even if it does survive. Treat it as an herbaceous perennial.

Planting it in full sun and a superbly well-drained soil are critical steps to growing this sun-loving groundcover successfully. Avoid planting in a clayey soil unless you are willing to improve percolation there with soil amendments. Purple Ice Plants are drought-resistant plants and do not require fertile soils, but they hate to be sitting in water.

Despite their resistance to drought and dislike of wet feet, they will profit from occasional watering in the heat of summer, as long as the drainage is excellent.

Reduce watering in fall to help harden it off for winter, as cold will be less likely to damage the succulent leaves if they are not quite so full of water.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Delosperma.

Origin

Delosperma cooperi is native to Lesotho and South Africa (Free State).

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