07 November 2007

Ice Ice plants, baby!

Before we go any further with this post, you may want to adjust your monitor's brightness level, or perhaps run and get your sunglasses. I'm tired out after a day in Wolfville and Halifax, meeting with several of my editors, so I'll just rest here for a bit...you go ahead, I'll wait.

Ready? Alright....as promised, a little post about ice plants. There are a number of different plants that go by the name "ice plant', including one genus from Africa that is fairly perennial, Delosperma (various species). I thought I had planted one of those this summer, but if I did, I've lost it or it went to sleep. These are quite hardy provided you have good drainage, and I know other gardeners here in NS who have had no problem with them. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of them, but you can see one here.

But the plants that really rock my socks are those that are annual here, Mesembryanthemum, or Livingstone Daisy. Everything about this plant is appealing, from the succulent foliage that looks like it is frosted in ice to its cascading growth habit--good for hanging planters or edges of walls--to of course those amazing, luminous, even neon colours.

These neon colours can be very hard to photograph, because they are so vibrant that the digital camera's sensors get a bit flummoxed, except on cloudy days.

Whew...this one is a little softer in shade, and I have to say I don't like it nearly as well...but the other marvelous thing about ice plants is that they flower like crazy. Look no further for proof of that than the fact mine are still blooming even though we're now into the second week of November.

Everything about these flowers intrigues me, including the central florets, which change colour as the flower matures. they also act somewhat like a weather forecaster, opening in sunny weather, closing at day's end or on cool and cloudy days. For an interesting look at how the flowers open and close, visit this video; it's only five seconds long, so you shouldn't get too bored.

I'm going to try growing livingstone daisies from seed next year, because I want a LOT of them--they do very well in containers, and I'm going to plant some of them on a hill that is gradually being turned into an alpine garden, because the drainage is very good. That's the main secret to these plants--give them perfect drainage. If they're in too wet a site, or if it's a wet and soggy summer, they tend to rot, but I've only had this happen once in the few years I've been enjoying them in our containers and along the edge of a front garden. I'm not sure what it says about me that I like putting these vibrant coloured blossoms in close proximity to plants with gold or acid-green foliage, just to ramp up the brilliance factor a little bit.

You know how we are often served a sorbet or ice between appetizer and main course, to 'cleanse the palate'? Well, lest the dizzying neon glow of all these ice plant blossoms do you in, I thought a little cool, cobalt blue would cleanse your optical palate.

Are you still enthused? Quite a few seed houses carry Mesembryanthemum or Ice Plant seeds, although you may find it more of a challenge to find transplants, depending on where you live. I have two different nurseries where I've found them on a regular basis; with the mixed colours you never know what you'll get, but that's part of the fun of growing 'assorted colours of plants.


  1. I want some. So bright and pretty. And I didn't go get my sunglasses, so I have to rest my eyes now. You warned us!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  2. I couldn't wait to see your ice plant post. Now here it is! I love ice plants. I've been admiring them for months but just never get myself to buy any seeds. I'm a seed person I love to see things grow. Yours are beautiful. I hope you try from seed someday and tell us how it goes.

  3. Lovely photos.
    We've planted ice plants in our garden too. Look for HARDY ice plants. I think those are the perennials you are looking for.


  4. Beautiful is the one word I can think of when I look at these flowers. The color is so vibrant is it because of your location or just a green thumb?

  5. I have had an ice plant before. It did well in a container but when I put it in the ground...well after winter it never raised its pretty head again. The blooms on the one I had were pink.

  6. Gorgeous! These photos are just beautiful! I love checking in to see what you've got here every morning. It's a great way to begin the day, thanks so much. :)

  7. Your blog is like a ray of sunshine, Jodi. I wish ice plants would grow in the southland! xo - Debi

  8. I would like to spend my life photographing and living with animals. A carefree life as longed by a hectic-yet-procrastinating student like me.

    Photos! more photos!

  9. Hats off to you for exhibiting the patience and care that it took not only to create and tend such a garden but also to photograph it so beautifully.

    A question from one blogger to another; I noticed you were on Blogger's Blogs of Note; did you get a ton of extra visitors? If so, well deserved indeed!

  10. They would be stars in my garden. Good drainage is no problem, and I like vibrant colors. I never saw such flowers here. Maybe I could find some seeds?

  11. The flower colors on the ice plants are gorgeous. I've not seen the oranges, reds and pinks before. I have some that have yellow flowers, and some beautiful fuchia, but I think I like the mulicolor orange the best.

  12. Hi Jodi,

    I finished one of my paintings of one of your photos. If you would like for me to send you a picture of my painting of your picture I would need your email address.

    I had fun doing it. I didn't do the one that I originally thought I would do. I might do it next.

    I would post it to my blog but I am a beginning watercolorist and I am realllllly bashful(insecure):/ about my work.

  13. I'm using an old manual camera, a good one and only $8. I take some nature photos, professionally, and some cat pix as well as interesting manmade shapes about town. Because I don't have my own working scanner yet, it's difficult to post pix until I get one, but I've got a few you might appreciate on my blog. I sell posters of them. I LOVE your cat photos and flower photos. I'm still figuring out how to get the brilliant colors of fall leaves to show. I have a few cat pix, one already on the blog, that you might like.

  14. What beautiful photos and what beautiful ice plants! As a beginning gardener, I'm going to research immediately if we can grow ice plants here (Los Angeles)! Thank you so much -- love your blog, too, and think I'll learn much from it.

  15. Thank you so much for posting this. I am obsessed with livingstone daisies and you just gave me the idea to buy the seeds so i just bought 100 seeds on ebay for 2 bux! woo hoo! I am interested in knowing how you did with the ones you started from seed. If you read this, could you email me at wendyh@mountaincable.net and let me know how you did?



  16. OMG!!! I love those Mesembryanthemums, those bright colors. Where can I get some of those? I live in Texas, and I have the ice plant with the little pink flowers, but I really want the Mesembryanthemums. They are gorgeous!!

  17. Well i grew mine from seed but its now getting close to frost time in my area and they havent bloomed. :(

    I will try again next year and start them earlier.

  18. Yes I bought the seeds too from someone online and they did not grow either, I was really looking forward to them, either they just didn't grow, or I got taken.


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