How to Sow Ice Plant Seeds
Ice Plants have fleshy, succulent foliage and are originally from barren, arid, warm areas of the world such as South Africa. Depending on the variety, they are classified as perennials, sub-shrubs or annuals compatible with many different climate zones. Ice Plants are easy to grow and can be planted from seeds once gardeners have determined which variety they want in their garden.
Step One – Researching Ice Plants
Gardeners should select the type of Ice Plant they want to grow depending on its intended use. Almost all Ice Plants can be used as ground cover although the majority do not tolerate foot traffic.
The Family (Aizoaceae or Ficoidaceae) contains 135 genera and about 1,900 species. Not all of these varieties are interchangeable. Some are denser, some have larger flowers and some have heavier foliage. Most of these plants have attractive foliage and those that flower come in a variety of colors. Once a gardener has decided on the variety, the next move is to acquire seeds.
Step Two – Ice Plant Seeds
Most local nurseries sell Ice Plant seeds and they can be purchased from any number of seed companies either by mail or from online sites. Some areas restrict the type of Ice Plant that can installed so all variety of seeds may not be available in all areas.
Step Three – Preparing the Soil
Most Ice Plants prefer light, sandy soil with full sun although some tolerate some shade fairly well. Some varieties will grow in almost any soil and actually prefer a dry hard-packed area to discourage competition from other plants. In any case, the soil should be lightly scratched so seeds can make good contact.
Step Four – Sowing Ice Plant Seeds
Ice Plants can be planted in outside gardens from seed when all danger of frost is past. The seed should be spread sparsely in the desired area and then lightly raked into the soil and watered. In colder areas, seeds should be planted indoors at least two months prior to safe outdoor planting then transplanted to the desired area. Some ice plants, such as Trailing Ice Plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) "self-sow" once started and will spread and thicken on their own.
Step Five – Caring for Ice Plants
Most Ice Plants are heat and drought tolerant. Some horticulturists believe Ice Plants add sodium to the soil around their roots which discourages other plants from growing in their vicinity. As a result, an occasional heavy soaking is beneficial to most Ice Plants although they do well with only occasional watering.
Ice Plants are often used as a perennial ground cover and are commonly called "stone plants" or "carpet weeds". Many gardeners use them in succulent gardens where traffic is minimal
In cold-winter climates, ice plants can be used as house plants, summer window boxes or in hanging baskets that can be taken indoors when the weather changes.
Several ice plants are edible. A variety called "New Zealand spinach" (Tetragonia tetragonioides) is used in high-end salads.