Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L.
Common Ice Plant, Crystalline Ice Plant, Ice Plant
Cryophytum crystallinum, Gasoul crystallinum
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is a low-growing succulent that spreads over the ground with flat, fleshy leaves. It can be annual, biennial or perennial depending on environmental conditions. Leaves and stems are covered with many, tiny membranes that form papillae filled with sap, which look like ice crystals from a distance. The flowers are white to pink to mauve, up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter and appear in spring to early summer.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Mesembs are mostly adapted to relatively predictable rainfall patterns rather than extreme drought and irregular rainfall. Total rainfall may be extremely low, but water is available at least seasonally or through fog and condensation. This leads to or allows plants which are not especially large and sometimes very small, and affects the way they need to be treated in cultivation.
The basics of care are very simple, with free-draining soil, plenty of sun and ventilation, and regular light watering in the right season. Yet the difficulties are endless, trying to adapt to the Mesembs' own adaptability and to follow their growth habits in your particular conditions.
These plants require a loam-based compost with the addition of extra drainage material such as horticultural grit or perlite. They all like good light conditions and plenty of ventilation.
Some are relatively cold-hardy and can even survive mild winters outside. Most will survive temperatures down to freezing point. There are some Mesembs which begin to grow in the fall as the temperature drops and the days get shorter.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Mesembs.
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