How to Grow an Ice Plant


Native to South Africa, ice plant (Lampranthus) has naturalized along the California coastline, providing ground cover along beaches and highways. This plant spreads easily and provides erosion control, but can invade your garden if not trimmed back aggressively. Ice plant is cold sensitive at 36 degrees F; if you live in an area that experiences frost, grow ice plant only as a houseplant. The plant features brightly colored flowers that look like daisies, in hues of pink, yellow or orange.

Step 1

Purchase an ice plant start from a nursery. The Cactus and Succulent Society notes that ice plant comes in many varieties and recommends carpobrotus, cephalophyllum, drosanthemum and malephora types for home gardeners. Since ice plant varies widely in the amount it spreads, choose a trailing variety for use as ground cover or a less-trailing variety, such as cephalophyllum "Red Spike," for small garden beds.

Step 2

Mix builder's sand in with your native soil because succulent plants prefer a faster-draining sandy soil. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of sand where you plan to plant the succulent, then turn the sand and soil together with a shovel to mix them.

Step 3

Dig a hole for your ice plant that is twice the size of the plant's root ball. Remove rocks, sticks or other debris from the site.

Step 4

Pull your ice plant from its container. Squeeze the root ball between your fingers to break it apart. Separate out tangled roots before planting.

Step 5

Place the ice plant in its prepared hole and spread the roots against the soil with your fingers. Holding the plant vertically straight with one hand, fill in the soil around the plant's roots with the other.

Step 6

Water the newly planted ice plant to settle the soil around the plant's roots. Add water until the soil compresses and becomes wet but not saturated.

Step 7

Allow the soil to dry out thoroughly before watering your ice plant again. When the soil feels crumbly and dry to the touch several inches below ground level, add water until the soil becomes saturated. Then allow it to dry out thoroughly before watering again.

Step 8

Prune back your ice plant if it spreads too much. Clip off shoots, cutting just above a node or a branch. Dispose of the cuttings or use them to propagate new plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Builder's sand
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Anvil pruners


  • Cactus and Succulent Society of America: Ice Plant
  • Botany: Lampranthus
Keywords: ice plant, grow ice plant, ice plant care

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.