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Plant of the Month: July 2002
Hardy Ice Plants
    Being fond of odd salad ingredients resulted in my planting of a collection of so-called hardy ice plants and varied other succulents. The aim was to discover which species could survive outdoors in Seattle, and to compare their performance, appearance and flavor. This is my initial report. Some of the plants were set out in spring of 2000, so have had two full years.
    The ice plants on the whole are South African, and involve many genera in the family Aizoaceae. This family is related to the Cactus clan, though the flowers look superficially like they belong in the sunflower family. The Ice Plant Family has close to 2,000 species. Most of these are killed by winter frosts. The best-known genus of the "hardy" ice plants is Delosperma, of more than 150 species, all African succulent shrubs or herbs.
    For my ice-plant collection I selected the sunny, well-drained base of a Douglas Fir. The space is small, about 15 square feet. As a mulch I used pumice, in order to reflect light, increase drainage, reduce soil splatter from rain or watering, and to make weed-pulling easier. Though the bed was made mostly for ice-plants, I also added other succulents (Aloinopsis, Crassula, Dudleya, Echeveria, Graptopetalum, Kalanchoe, Portulacaria, Sempervivum), and some Thymus pannonicus seedlings. Some plants have perished, others have run rampant. I consider the bed a test plot. The list following indicates briefly my success and opinion with each taxon.
    I will continue my tests and report more later.

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Iceplantbed
photo by Lacia Lynne Bailey
Species Plant habit Flowers Flavor Other
Carpobrotus edulis Sprawls Largest; yellow Plain Rambunctious; looks good in winter
Delosperma Ashtonii Sprawls Large; magenta Bland; faintly acrid Gray-green; not good in winter
Delosperma Brunnthaleri 'Pink' Upright Small; dull pink Bland Very floriferous; green; robust; looks good in winter
Delosperma congestum 'Gold Nugget' Low Modest; yellow Acrid Slow; thirsty & may need some shade
Delosperma Cooperi Sprawls Moderate; magenta Bland Rambunctious; looks good in winter
Delosperma Daveyi Low none made did not taste Weak, very slow; dark green; it died
Delosperma floribundum 'Starburst' Upright Small to moderate; pale magenta Bland Floriferous; looks good in winter
Delosperma 'John Proffit' Sprawls Magenta Plain Died
Delosperma lavesii Sprawls moderate; magenta Slightly acrid Semi-glossy
Delosperma nubigenum (of commerce) Low Yellow Slightly acrid Makes almost no flowers for me; looks good in winter
Delosperma nubigenum (true species) Low Yellow Acrid Weak; dwarf; died
Delosperma obtusum Sprawls Small; deep magenta Bland Weak; ugly in winter; died
Delosperma "Yellow" Sprawls Moderate; yellow Slightly acrid Green; looks okay in winter
Drosanthemum floribundum Prostrate Small; pink Slightly acrid Glistening gray-green; looks good in winter
Ruschia hamata Sprawls Has not flowered Bland Looks good in winter
Ruschia Putterillii Upright Small; dull pink Tastes good Looks good in winter
Ruschia pulvinervis Stiffly upright Did not bloom Astringent Died. Had a pretty gray color. Looked good in winter



Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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