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Ice Plants Care

The ice plant belongs to the huge Aizoaceae family of flowering dicotyledonous plants consisting of 135 genera and around 1800 different species. They are commonly described as vygies or “small figs” in South Africa. Most species in this family are common to Southern areas of Africa with a few species in Australia and the Pacific area.

This plant is a succulent that doesn’t grow very big, only growing about 6 inches high and spreading 4 feet wide. When it is properly cared for, it can reach its mature size within a month. Some varieties tend to spread out and become gangly, which is generally controlled with pruning. 

When one hears the name “Ice Plant”, it’s automatically assumed that the plant can tolerate extremely cold weather but it describes their leaves that have small white dots that resemble ice crystals, hence their name.

Ice Plants are often cultivated for their bright presentation of flowers that grow similarly to daisies. These flowers are varied in color, from white, purple, pink, orange, and yellow. They are also thought to be easy-maintenance and attractive flowering indoor plants.

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Sunlight

Ice plants need plenty of exposure to the sun. It can tolerate growing under partial shade, but it thrives better under full sunshine. Find a place indoors that gets the best sunshine and make that location the home for your ice plant.

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Water

The first important step you need to do when it comes down to watering this plant is to be very sure that water can flow freely from its container. This cannot be stressed enough since water-logging this plant increases the chances of it wilting and dying. It also needs soil that won’t retain water. 

If the plant is grown outdoors, it can survive on just rainfall throughout the year, needing just a total of 18 inches of water every year. However, if it doesn’t rain as often, watering will be necessary.

Ice plants grown indoors should be watered once a week, although some prefer to water the plant once every 10 days as the soil will be given a chance to dry out always remember that your ice plant is succulent and needs less water than most other plants. 

The time of watering this plant can also make a difference – it will get stressed if it is watered during the morning hours of the day. It prefers to be watered in the afternoon. Just make sure you water it while the sun is still up or there’s enough light for the leaves to dry.  

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Humidity

As a succulent, it generally isn’t a big fan of high levels of humidity. Humid conditions tend to give rise to root rot and fungal infections affecting the plant. 

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Temperature

Temperature is also not a big issue when growing this plant indoors. It will be happy growing in a temperature range between 50-70°F. However, temperatures below 35°F will kill the plant.

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Soil

This plant doesn’t like dense, water-retaining soils. A cacti/succulent soil mix will suit it just fine. You can make up your mix consisting of sand and gravel with a little loam added.

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Repotting

This is a very hardy plant and doesn’t need repotting as the roots stay small and will not get crowded. The only situation where you might be forced to report your ice plant into another pot is when the roots get waterlogged and the soil can’t dry out fast. As mentioned, over-watering is a major issue for this plant. 

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Propagation

This plant is propagated through division, cuttings, and seeds. Stem cuttings and dividing the plant during its active growing period are the two easiest ways to get clones. 

Select a suitable stem with several leaves and cut off around 2-4 inches from the stem. remove all leaves from the cutting, keeping just the top 2-3 leaves. Air-dry the cutting to form a callus – overnight would be better. Fill another pot with fresh cacti/succulent potting mix – the pot must have quite a few drainage holes for good drainage and water the soil. After the water drains away, insert the cutting around 2 inches deep into the soil. Select an appropriate spot to place your prospective new ice plant, preferably a place with plenty of bright indirect light. Continue watering the cutting as usual until the cutting has formed roots, and move it to a slightly bigger pot.

Dividing the plant to get new plants is as easy as the stem cutting method, if not easier simply cutting the plant, ensuring that each divided section has stems, leaves, and roots, effectively a whole new plant already. Plant the divided plant into a pot filled with well-drained cacti/succulent soil.

Additional Care

Since cacti/succulent soil isn’t high in nutrients, this plant doesn’t need feeding. It might get a boost from being fed with a balanced fertilizer. This must only be done once during spring to encourage healthy growth. Other than this one time, it will not require to be fed again in the year.

This plant tends to grow unruly, spreading out and a bit gangly at times. Trimming the plant back will encourage more vibrant flowering the next year. Prune the plant in autumn when it has finished flowering. Start by removing any wilted flowers and dead foliage. 

If the plant has gone through a cold spell of weather and the foliage starts dying, pruning can help resolve this. You can remove all the dead and dying foliage from the plant base, and growth will resume.

Common Problems

The pests that affect ice plants are aphids and mealybugs. They can be removed from the plant with strong sprays of water.

If the leaves turn yellow and start falling off, it usually signals that the plant has developed root rot. This is a serious matter for this plant as it can’t be water-logged for too long – the whole plant will get damaged. First, carefully rinse the plant to remove excess soil and let it sit to dry out. Transfer the plant to another pot with several drainage holes and fill with fresh cacti/succulent mix. Review and adjust your watering schedule. 

Fertilizers with nitrogen can reduce flower production as nitrogen promotes plenty of foliar growth but is not suitable for flower production. If you notice your plant producing fewer flowers, stop using fertilizer as this plant doesn’t need it.

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