Carpobrotus, commonly known as Pigface, Ice Plant, and Hottentot Plant, is a genus of ground-creeping plants with succulent leaves and large daisy-like flowers. The name refers to the edible fruits. It comes from the Ancient Greek karpos (“fruit”) and brota (“edible”).
Various Carpobrotus species are invasive introduced species in suitable climates throughout the world. The harm they do is variable, and sometimes hotly debated, when balanced against their value as firebreaks and as food for wildlife.
Carpobrotus is a perennial plant in its chosen zones but also thrives as an annual in colder areas. The best temperature range for the succulent is between 40 and 100 ˚F (4 – 14 ˚C), but some protection from the sun’s scorching rays may be required in the higher temperature ranges.
Growing Carpobrotus in planters prevents it from spreading in those areas where that is a concern. Freezing temperatures may cause the plant to die back, but it will resprout in spring in temperate area.
Stem cutting is the fastest way to propagate this fast growing plants. Seeds are also available and you may start them indoors at least six weeks before the date of the last frost.
Ice plants are notoriously un-fussy. 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 threats to the plant’s health are spittle bugs and some root rots and stem rots. You can avoid the rot by minimizing overhead watering during periods in which the plant will not dry off before nightfall. The bugs will remove themselves if you spray with a 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 and let it dry out and languish for the winter in a warm location. In March, resume regular watering and move the plant to a full light situation where it has some protection from burning rays. Gradually reintroduce the plant to temperatures outdoors until it can tolerate a full day outside.
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