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How to Start an Ice Plant

When it comes to starting new plants, it doesn't get much easier than the the ice plant. The tough, durable ice plant thrives in hot, dry, sunny weather and poor soil and will spread at a moderate pace, making it a good ground cover for rock gardens or other difficult areas. Ice plant, a succulent, is the cool character of the plant world, and will feel cool to the touch even on the hottest days. Propagate ice plant by taking a leaf cutting any time.

Cut a plump, healthy leaf, with 1 to 2 inches of stem attached, from a mature ice plant with a razor blade. Be sure the razor blade is clean before you begin. Either use a brand new, sterile razor blade, or wipe the blade with rubbing alcohol. This will eliminate the possibility of transmitting bacteria to the ice plant leaf.

Set the ice plant leaf aside for two to three days. This will allow the ice plant leaf to form a callus, which will protect the leaf from developing rot.

Fill a pot with commercial potting mixture formulated for cacti and succulents. Any pot will work, but it must have a drainage hole in the bottom so that water can drain through the soil freely. Use a spray bottle to moisten the potting mixture until the mixture is just barely damp.

Make a small hole in the potting mix with a small stick or screwdriver. Dip the callused end of the ice plant leaf in rooting hormone and plant the stem and lower part of the leaf carefully in the hole. Tamp the soil down lightly around the leaf. It's fine to plant several ice plant leaves in the same pot, but leave enough space so that the leaves aren't touching.

Place the pot in indirect, bright light. Don't put it in direct light or in a windowsill. Avoid putting the pot near air conditioners, heating vents, open doors or drafty windows. The ice plant will root quicker in a warm room. Temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees F are best.

Allow the top of the soil to dry out between waterings, then water the soil until it's barely damp. Never allow the bottom of the pot to sit in water. Like all succulents, ice plants are susceptible to rot.

Watch for the development of new growth, which indicates that the ice plant leaf has rooted. This can take between a week and two months, depending on the temperature in the room.

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