How To Gardening Plant Portraits Trailing ice plant or Cooper’s ice plant

Trailing ice plant or Cooper’s ice plant

By Nancy Norris | January 11, 2023

| Last updated on June 16, 2023

This succulent likes well-drained soil and produces tiny flowers

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Trailing ice plant

Common name:
 Trailing ice plant, Cooper’s ice plant

Latin name:Delosperma cooperi

USDA Hardiness Zones: 6 to 9

Cultural needs: Well-drained soil, sun or part shade

Plant size: 3-inches high by 3-feet wide

Trailing ice plant next to model locomotive
This plant grows in Zone 6 on Denny and Judy LaMusga’s Garden Northern Railway. Photo by Nancy Norris

Sometimes called hardy ice plant or purple ice plant, this low succulent is not to be confused with the larger purple ice plant, popular in Southern California (Drosanthemum floribundum). English botanist Thomas Cooper collected this plant in the mountains of South Africa, where soil rarely holds moisture. The pictured ice plant grows on a raised bed in Ohio, Zone 6, which shows its hardiness; the 1 to 2-inch purple flowers on Denny and Judy LaMusga’s Garden Northern Railway haven’t opened yet, but still shine like a fluorescent light.

close up of tiny purple flowers
A close up of the purple flowers. Photo by Nancy Norris

Trailing ice plant is perfect on slopes, even the seaside, and hanging over waterfalls, but never in wet soil. This plant fares best in full sun, but will tolerate some shade. Flowers bloom from spring to fall. In warmer zones, ice plant remains green, but below five degrees Fahrenheit, leaves drop during winter, where it needs to be treated as an herbaceous perennial. Gardeners in Zone 5 will need to protect the plant in winter. To propagate, take softwood cuttings in spring and summer or plant seed.

Where does it get its common name, ice plant? Transparent flakes appear all over the foliage. A similar hardy African ice plant has yellow blooms, Delosperma nubigenum.

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