Mesembryanthemum

Mesembryanthemum flowers

A low-growing, spreading succulent, suited to hot dry conditions. The glistening stems and leaves are topped with bright star-shaped flowers throughout summer. Although, the free-flowering blooms only open when the sun is shining.

Family: Aizoaceae (fig-marigold family)
Botanical Name: Mesembryanthemum (Dorotheanthus bellidiformis)
Common Names: Livingstone Daisy, Ice Plant.

Foliage: Narrow flat, glistening, light green succulent leaves on reddish stems.

Flowers: Single star-like flowers in a wide array of bright colours, ranging from white, pink, crimson, yellow and orange-gold. The flowers only open in full sun.

Flowering Period: July-September.

Soil: Thrives in light, dry, sandy soils. Avoid waterlogged conditions.

Conditions: Full sun, all day. Best grown in an open, south-facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Prostrate, spreading.

Type: Half-hardy annual.

Origin: South Africa.

Hardiness: Half-hardy in the UK. Protect from frost.

Planting and Growing Mesembryanthemum

Thrives in poor dry, sandy soil, in a warm sunny situation. Dislikes wet soil and excessive rain.

Ideal for any dry, sunny position around the garden. Excellent for dry walls, shallow clay pots, paving cracks, rock gardens or tumbling down dry banks.

They can be grown from seed but the easiest way is to purchase spring bedding plants or plug plants from garden centers and nurseries. Do not plant outside until all danger of frost has passed in your area.

Taking Care of Mesembryanthemum

Water until established, then water sparingly.

Pruning

Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.

Pests and Diseases

Slugs can attack young seedlings. May be affected by foot rot and fungal disease.

Propagating Mesembryanthemum

Sow under glass in March or April, at a constant temperature of 15°C (59°F) Prick-out, pot on, harden-off and plant out when all danger of frost is past. Space the young seedlings around 8-10in (20-25cm) apart.

Popular Varieties of Mesembryanthemum

Usually sold as seeds in mixed glowing colours. Some varieties have a lighter shade or zoning near the centres. Average height from 4-6in (10-15cm), spread to 8in (20cm) or more.

Mesembryanthemum criniflorum (syn. Cleretum bellidiforme, Dorotheanthus bellidiformis) is usually available in a mixture of colours, including white, pink, red, orange, yellow and bi-colours. Useful varieties include:

  • 'Gelato' produces lush, succulent, fleshy foliage that covers the ground quickly, with bright flowers all summer long. Winter hardy. For sale at You Garden.
  • 'Lunette' produces yellow flowers with a red central disc.
  • Magic Carpet Mixed' provides a rainbow of sparkling pastel shades. For sale at Van Meuwen.
  • 'Sparkles Mixed' has succulent, fleshy-leaves and bright flowers all summer long. Seed available at Thompson & Morgan.