How To Plant Ice Plant [ Full Guide ]

Ice plant (Delosperma) is a low-growing, heat-tolerant succulent known for its vibrant, daisy-like flowers and ability to thrive in hot, dry conditions. This resilient plant is an excellent choice for gardeners looking to add a splash of color to their landscapes while requiring minimal maintenance. Learning how to plant ice plant involves understanding its soil and climate requirements, selecting the ideal planting location, preparing the soil, and choosing the right varieties for your garden. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to successfully plant and grow ice plant in your outdoor spaces.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Ice Plant

  1. Understand the soil and climate requirements.
  2. Select the ideal planting location.
  3. Prepare the soil for ice plant.
  4. Choose the right ice plant varieties.

Understanding The Soil And Climate Requirements For Ice Plant

Before diving into the process of planting ice plant, it’s crucial to comprehend the soil and climate conditions that best suit this succulent.

Soil Requirements

Ice plant thrives in well-draining soil that is not too rich in organic matter. Sandy or gravelly soils are ideal for promoting proper drainage and preventing root rot. Additionally, the soil pH should be slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. If your soil is high in clay and tends to retain water, consider amending it with coarse sand or perlite to improve its drainage capabilities.

Climate Requirements

Ice plant is well-adapted to arid and semi-arid regions, making it a perfect choice for gardens in dry climates. It can withstand intense heat and sunlight, making it an excellent option for sunny areas with limited water availability. However, ice plant may struggle in regions with high humidity and excessive rainfall, as these conditions can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues. It is essential to consider the climatic conditions of your area before planting ice plant to ensure it will thrive in its new environment.

Selecting The Ideal Planting Location

When choosing a location to plant ice plant, consider the following factors to provide the best growing conditions for this resilient succulent.

Sunlight Requirements

Ice plant thrives in full sun, requiring at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Select a planting location that receives ample sunlight, such as south- or west-facing areas in your garden. Insufficient sunlight may result in leggy growth and reduced flowering, so it is crucial to prioritize a sunny spot for your ice plant.

Soil Drainage

As mentioned earlier, ice plant requires well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged conditions that can lead to root rot. Avoid planting ice plant in areas with poor drainage, such as low-lying spots or compacted soils. Elevated or sloped areas can be beneficial for ensuring proper drainage and preventing water accumulation around the plant roots.

Protection From Harsh Elements

While ice plant is known for its resilience to heat and drought, it may benefit from some protection against harsh winds, especially in regions with strong prevailing winds. Consider planting ice plant near windbreaks, such as fences, shrubs, or taller plants, to shield it from excessive wind exposure.

Preparing The Soil For Ice Plant

After selecting a suitable planting location, it’s important to prepare the soil to create an optimal growing environment for ice plant.

Soil Preparation Steps

  1. Clear the Area: Begin by clearing the planting area of any existing vegetation, rocks, or debris. This will provide a clean slate for your ice plant and prevent competition for resources.

  2. Loosen the Soil: Using a garden fork or tiller, loosen the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. This process helps improve soil aeration, root penetration, and water infiltration, creating a favorable environment for the ice plant’s root system.

  3. Incorporate Organic Matter (Optional): While ice plant thrives in lean soil, adding a small amount of organic matter, such as compost, can enhance soil structure and fertility. Mix in organic matter at a ratio of approximately 1 part compost to 3 parts soil, being careful not to over-enrich the soil.

  4. Adjust Soil pH: Test the soil pH using a reliable soil testing kit. If the pH falls outside the optimal range of 6.0 to 7.0, make pH adjustments by incorporating amendments such as elemental sulfur to lower pH or agricultural lime to raise pH, following the product instructions for proper application rates.

  5. Create Planting Holes: Once the soil is adequately prepared, create planting holes spaced according to the mature spread of the ice plant varieties you are planting. Typically, space the holes 12 to 18 inches apart to allow ample room for the plants to develop and spread.

Choosing The Right Ice Plant Varieties

Ice plant is available in various colors, flower sizes, and foliage types, offering a range of options to suit different garden preferences. When selecting ice plant varieties for planting, consider the following factors to ensure you choose the best options for your garden.

Flower Colors

Ice plant varieties display an array of vibrant flower colors, including shades of pink, purple, yellow, orange, and white. Consider the color scheme of your garden and choose ice plant varieties that complement or contrast with the existing plants and landscape features. For a striking visual impact, mix and match different flower colors to create an eye-catching display.

Flower Sizes And Shapes

The flowers of ice plant can vary in size and form, with some varieties producing larger blooms compared to others. Additionally, the shape and arrangement of the flower petals can differ, ranging from single-layered to densely packed blooms. Select ice plant varieties with flower sizes and shapes that align with your design preferences and garden aesthetics.

Foliage Characteristics

While the flowers are the main attraction of ice plant, the foliage also plays a role in the overall appeal of the plant. Some ice plant varieties feature succulent, needle-like leaves, while others have more rounded or elongated leaf shapes. Consider the foliage characteristics of different varieties and choose those that best complement the overall look of your garden.

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Drought Tolerance And Growth Habits

Certain ice plant varieties exhibit higher drought tolerance and more vigorous growth habits compared to others. If you live in a region with limited water availability, prioritize varieties known for their exceptional drought resistance. Additionally, consider the growth habits of the ice plant, such as spreading or clumping, to determine how it will fit into your landscape design and space availability.

Planting ice plant can be a rewarding addition to your garden, offering a burst of color and a low-maintenance, water-wise option for landscapes. By understanding the soil and climate requirements of ice plant, selecting an ideal planting location, preparing the soil, and choosing the right varieties, you can create a thriving environment for this resilient succulent. Whether used as ground cover, in rock gardens, or as part of a water-wise landscape design, ice plant brings both beauty and practicality to outdoor spaces. With proper care and attention to planting considerations, you can enjoy the vibrant blooms and easy-going nature of ice plant in your garden for years to come.

Purchasing Ice Plant Seeds Or Transplants

Ice plant, also known as Lampranthus, is a popular and attractive ground cover plant that is commonly grown for its vibrant flowers and succulent foliage. It is drought-tolerant and easy to care for, making it an excellent choice for gardeners looking to add color and texture to their landscapes. Whether you choose to grow ice plant from seeds or transplants, the process of planting and establishing this beautiful plant is relatively straightforward.

Before you can start planting ice plant, you will need to decide whether you want to grow it from seeds or transplants. Both options have their advantages and challenges, so it is important to understand the differences before making a decision.

Purchasing Ice Plant Seeds:
If you choose to grow ice plant from seeds, you will have a wider variety of cultivars to choose from. Seeds are generally less expensive than transplants and offer the satisfaction of watching your plants grow from tiny seeds. However, keep in mind that growing ice plant from seeds can be more challenging and time-consuming than using transplants.

When purchasing ice plant seeds, look for a reputable seed supplier that specializes in succulent plants. You should also consider the specific variety of ice plant you want to grow and whether it is suitable for your climate. Some popular ice plant varieties include Lampranthus aurantiacus, Lampranthus spectabilis, and Lampranthus deltoides.

Purchasing Ice Plant Transplants:
If you prefer a more convenient and faster option, purchasing ice plant transplants is the way to go. Transplants are already established plants that have been grown from seeds by a professional grower. They are more likely to survive and establish quickly in your garden compared to seeds.

When choosing ice plant transplants, look for healthy plants with well-developed roots and vibrant foliage. Look out for signs of pests or diseases, such as wilting, yellowing leaves, or discoloration. You can find ice plant transplants at local nurseries or garden centers, or you can order them online from reputable plant suppliers.

Planting Ice Plant Seeds

If you decide to grow ice plant from seeds, follow these steps to ensure successful germination and growth:

  1. Preparing the Soil: Ice plants thrive in well-draining soil, so it is important to prepare the soil before planting. Start by clearing the area of any weeds or debris. Use a garden fork or spade to loosen the soil and improve drainage. If the soil is heavy or clayey, amend it with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve its structure and drainage.

  2. Sowing the Seeds: Ice plant seeds are very small and should be sown thinly and evenly over the prepared soil. You can mix the seeds with sand or vermiculite to help distribute them more evenly. Gently press the seeds into the soil, but do not bury them too deeply as they require light to germinate. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of fine soil or vermiculite.

  3. Watering the Seeds: After sowing the seeds, water the area gently and evenly to moisten the soil. Avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can cause the seeds to rot. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, which typically takes around 2 to 4 weeks.

  4. Providing Optimal Germination Conditions: Ice plant seeds require warm temperatures and lots of sunlight to germinate successfully. Place a clear plastic cover or plastic wrap over the seeded area to create a mini greenhouse effect, which will help retain moisture and warmth. Keep the area in a location with bright, indirect light or under a grow light.

  5. Thin Out Seedlings: Once the ice plant seedlings emerge, they will need adequate space to grow and develop. Thin out the seedlings, leaving the strongest and healthiest ones spaced evenly apart. This will allow each plant to receive proper sunlight, airflow, and nutrients.

  6. Transplanting Seedlings (optional): If you started the seeds in a seed tray, you may need to transplant the seedlings into individual pots once they have grown true leaves. Use a well-draining potting mix and gently transfer each seedling into its own container, taking care not to damage the fragile roots. Water the seedlings after transplanting and continue to care for them until they are ready to be planted in the garden.

Transplanting Ice Plant Seedlings

If you opted to start your ice plant from seedlings instead of seeds, follow these steps to transplant them into your garden:

  1. Choosing the Planting Location: Select a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining soil. Ice plants require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. Ensure the area is clear of weeds and other plants that may compete for nutrients and space.

  2. Preparing the Soil: Just like when planting seeds, prepare the soil by clearing any debris and improving drainage. Loosen the soil using a garden fork or spade, and amend it with organic matter if necessary.

  3. Digging the Planting Hole: Dig a hole for each seedling that is slightly larger than the root ball. Make sure the hole is deep enough for the seedling to sit at the same level it was previously growing in the pot.

  4. Planting the Seedlings: Gently remove the seedlings from their pots, being careful not to damage the roots. Place each seedling in its respective planting hole and backfill with soil. Press the soil lightly around the base of the seedling to ensure it is securely planted.

  5. Watering the Transplants: After planting the seedlings, give them a thorough watering to settle the soil and help the roots establish in their new environment. Water the transplants regularly and deeply during the first few weeks, as this will promote healthy root growth.

  6. Mulching and Weed Control: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of each seedling to help conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. Mulching also adds an aesthetic appeal to your garden bed.

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Proper Spacing And Arrangement Of Ice Plant

Proper spacing and arrangement are essential for the healthy growth and visual impact of your ice plant. Follow these guidelines to ensure your plants have enough space to thrive:

  1. Spacing between Plants: Ice plants should be spaced approximately 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for adequate airflow, prevent overcrowding, and minimize the risk of diseases.

  2. Arranging Ice Plant in the Landscape: Consider the growth habit and size of your ice plant cultivar when deciding how to arrange them in your garden. Some varieties form low mats, while others develop upright or trailing stems. Planting them in groups or clusters will create a more visually appealing and impactful display.

  3. Combining Ice Plant with Other Plants: Ice plants are often grown alongside other drought-tolerant plants, such as succulents and cacti. Combining different textures, colors, and sizes of plants can create an interesting and dynamic landscape design. Consider using ice plant as a ground cover under taller plants or in rock gardens.

  4. Maintenance and Pruning: Regular maintenance is essential for the health and appearance of your ice plant. Remove any dead or damaged foliage to promote new growth and maintain a tidy appearance. Prune overgrown or leggy stems to encourage compact and bushy growth.

Planting ice plant can be a rewarding and straightforward process, whether you choose to grow it from seeds or transplants. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can establish a thriving ice plant garden with vibrant flowers and lush foliage. Remember to provide the correct growing conditions, properly space and arrange your plants, and provide regular maintenance to ensure the long-term success of your ice plant. With proper care, your ice plant will become a beautiful addition to your landscape, attracting pollinators and bringing color and texture to your garden year after year.

Watering And Irrigation Guidelines For Ice Plant

Ice plant (Delosperma spp.) is a versatile and attractive ground cover plant that is popular for its vibrant, daisy-like flowers and succulent foliage. It is a drought-tolerant plant that thrives in hot and dry climates, making it an excellent choice for xeriscaping and low-maintenance gardens. Ice plant is also known by several other names, including carpet weed, mesembryanthemum, and pig face.

Ice plants are native to southern Africa and are well-suited for coastal areas and regions with sandy or rocky soil. They can be grown in containers, rock gardens, or as a border plant.

One of the key factors in successfully growing ice plants is proper watering and irrigation. Although they are drought-tolerant, ice plants still require some water to thrive. Here are some watering guidelines to ensure healthy growth:

  1. Establishment Phase: During the first few weeks after planting, ice plants require regular watering. Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between each watering. This will encourage the ice plants to develop a strong root system.

  2. Established Plants: Once the ice plants are established, they require less frequent watering. In most cases, watering once every two to three weeks is sufficient. However, this can vary depending on your climate and soil conditions. Monitor the soil moisture level by sticking your finger into the soil. If it feels dry up to the first knuckle, it’s time to water.

  3. Watering Technique: When watering ice plants, it’s important to avoid wetting the foliage and flowers. Overhead watering can lead to fungal diseases. Instead, use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to deliver water directly to the soil. This ensures that the roots receive adequate moisture without the risk of foliage diseases.

  4. Rainwater is Ideal: Ice plants are sensitive to mineral deposits present in tap water. If possible, collect and use rainwater for watering your plants. Alternatively, allow tap water to sit uncovered for 24 hours to allow any chlorine to dissipate before using it on your ice plants.

Remember, it’s better to underwater than overwater ice plants. They are highly succulent and can rot if subjected to excessive moisture.

Ice Plant Maintenance: Fertilization, Pruning, And Weeding

Ice plants are generally low-maintenance, but regular upkeep is necessary to ensure healthy growth and vibrant flowers. Here are some maintenance tips for ice plants:

  1. Fertilization: Ice plants do not require much fertilization. In fact, excessive fertilizer can lead to poor flower production and leggy growth. Only fertilize if the plants show signs of nutrient deficiency, such as pale leaves or stunted growth. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer, applying it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  2. Pruning: Ice plants benefit from occasional pruning to maintain their shape and prevent them from becoming too leggy. Trim back any dead or damaged stems and remove any overcrowded or crossing branches. The best time to prune ice plants is in early spring, just before new growth begins.

  3. Weeding: Ice plants can quickly spread and cover a large area, but they are susceptible to weed invasion. Regularly weed the area around the ice plants to prevent competition for nutrients and moisture. Be careful when weeding not to disturb the shallow roots of the ice plant.

  4. Dividing and Transplanting: As ice plants spread, they may become crowded and lose their vigor. Every few years, consider dividing the plants to create more space and maintain their health. To divide ice plants, dig up the clumps and carefully separate them into smaller sections. Replant the divided sections in well-draining soil.

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Controlling Pests And Diseases In Ice Plant

Ice plants are generally resistant to pests and diseases, but they can still be affected under certain conditions. Here are some common pests and diseases that can impact ice plants and how to control them:

  1. Aphids: Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that can infest ice plants. They can cause stunted growth and may transmit viral diseases. To control aphids, spray the affected plants with a stream of water to dislodge the insects. Alternatively, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.

  2. Snails and Slugs: These common garden pests are attracted to succulent plants like ice plants. They can damage the foliage, leaving behind a trail of slime. To control snails and slugs, remove any hiding places such as rocks or debris near the plants. You can also use traps or apply organic slug control products.

  3. Fungal Diseases: Ice plants are susceptible to fungal diseases such as root rot and leaf spot. To prevent these diseases, ensure proper watering techniques, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Avoid overhead watering and provide good air circulation around the plants. If fungal diseases occur, apply a fungicide specifically labeled for the affected disease.

  4. Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, white insects that feed on plant sap. They can cause distorted growth and honeydew secretion. To control mealybugs, wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

Regularly inspect your ice plants for any signs of pests or diseases and take appropriate action promptly to prevent further damage.

Harvesting And Complete Care Guide For Ice Plant

Ice plants are primarily grown for their attractive flowers, which bloom in a wide range of colors, including shades of pink, purple, red, and yellow. Here are some tips for harvesting and caring for ice plants:

  1. Harvesting Flowers: Ice plant flowers can be cut and used in floral arrangements. They have a long vase life and retain their vibrant color even after being cut. To harvest the flowers, choose fully open blooms and cut the stem just above a leaf node. This will encourage new flower production.

  2. Deadheading: Regular deadheading helps prolong the flowering period of ice plants. Remove faded flowers by pinching or cutting the stem just above a set of healthy leaves. This prevents the plant from diverting energy into seed production and encourages the development of new flowers.

  3. Winter Care: Ice plants are hardy in USDA zones 6-9 and can withstand mild winter conditions. However, in regions with frost or freezing temperatures, provide winter protection. Apply a layer of mulch around the plants to insulate the roots and protect them from temperature extremes. Avoid excessive watering during winter, as this can lead to root rot.

  4. Propagation: Ice plants can be propagated from stem cuttings, division, or seeds. Stem cuttings taken in spring or summer root easily when planted in well-draining soil. Division is best done in early spring, while seeds can be sown indoors in late winter and transplanted outdoors once the threat of frost has passed.

  5. Companion Planting: Ice plants make excellent companions for other drought-tolerant plants such as agave, sedum, and yucca. They create a vibrant and low-maintenance ground cover that complements the architectural features of these plants.


Ice plants are a beautiful and versatile addition to any garden. Their vibrant flowers, succulent foliage, and drought-tolerant nature make them a popular choice for xeriscaping and low-maintenance landscapes. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can successfully plant and care for ice plants, ensuring their health and longevity in your garden. Enjoy the beauty and resilience of these stunning plants and create a colorful tapestry in your outdoor space.


What Is Ice Plant?

Ice plant, also known as Delosperma, is a hardy succulent plant that is native to South Africa. It has thick, fleshy leaves that store water and bright, showy flowers that bloom in the summer.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Ice Plant?

The best time to plant ice plant is in the spring or fall when the weather is cool and the soil is moist. Avoid planting during the hot summer months.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Ice Plant?

Ice plant prefers well-draining soil and does not do well in clay or heavy soil. Before planting, amend the soil with compost or peat moss to improve drainage.

How Much Sunlight Does Ice Plant Need?

Ice plant thrives in full sun, but it can also tolerate partial shade. Make sure to plant it in an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

How Often Should I Water Ice Plant?

Ice plant is drought tolerant and only needs to be watered sparingly. During the first few weeks after planting, water once a week. After that, only water when the soil is dry to the touch. Overwatering can cause the plant to rot.