Delosperma aff congestum – Ice Plant ‘Gold Nugget’ on May 25, 2015

Ice plants are lovely little succulents that form mats of juicy little leaves and a carpet of flowers. In other parts of the world, ice plants are very invasive and they can spread like crazy. In California, you’ll often see huge swathes of them (often with pink flowers) growing over rocks and beside highways. They are usually only hardy to zone 4 or 5, so they’re grown as annuals here (and they never get a chance to invade anything). But this variety, which I grew from seed, was listed as hardy to zone 3. (I ordered the seed from Gardens North, although they don’t seem to have it listed on their website anymore.) So I’m anxious to try it and see if it can survive our winter.

I didn’t have too much luck germinating these seeds, so I only ended up with about 4 or 5 little plants. This one is the biggest so far (and the white blob in the picture is a petal from my cherry tree, so that gives you a notion of the scale here), so I’ve actually transplanted it into its own pot and we’ll see how it does. I’m going to baby its little siblings a little longer. Apparently, ‘Gold Nugget’ prefers a bit of afternoon shade, which it will get in this spot on my stairs.

A surprising variety of succulents can be grown outdoors in Edmonton. In my experience, they do well in pots or other places where the soil will drain well – over-watering (and rotting) is more of a problem here than under-watering. You just have to make sure you put the pots somewhere sheltered during the winter, where they’ll have good snow cover and be out of the wind. I usually overwinter my pots in clusters between my raised beds. This year I forgot to put them away in the fall (=was too lazy) and they all died. FUN SCIENCE EXPERIMENT, JOCELYN!

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