Mesembryanthemum cordifolium
Common Name: heartleaf iceplant
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Aizoaceae
Native Range: South Africa
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: Purplish-red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 where it performs well in dry to medium, well-drained sandy loams in full sun. Best growth occurs in areas where night temperatures do not dip below 50 degrees F. Established plants perform well in dry soils, and tend to remain compact in dry soils. Plants grow much more aggressively in moist soils. Plants may only last 2-3 years, and need to be periodically replaced. Propagate by tip cuttings or seed. Container plants also need full sun. When watering container plants, allow soils to dry before adding additional water.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium, commonly called heartleaf ice plant or baby sun rose, is a succulent, creeping, short-lived, mat-forming perennial that is native to the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It has escaped gardens and naturalized in some parts of California, Oregon and Florida. Plants only rise to about 4" tall with prostrate stems trailing along the ground to 2' long. Stems are clad with smooth, heart-shaped, fleshy, oval, bright green leaves (to 1" wide). Solitary, many-petaled flowers (to 1") from the leaf axils are purplish-red with yellow stamens. Flowers love the sun, but close up at night and remain closed on cloudy days. Flowers bloom primarily from spring to fall. The California Invasive Plant Council has recently determined Mesembryanthemum cordifolium to be invasive in California and has listed it as a wildland weed red alert. In moist soils, this plant will grow rapidly to overwhelm nearby vegetation.

Formerly known as Aptenia cordifolia.

A variegated form of this plant has been widely sold and labeled as Dorotheanthus bellidiformis 'Mesbicla' MEZOO TRAILING RED, which as best we can determine is a very different plant. The species Dorotheanthus bellidiformis is quite different from Mesembryanthemum cordifolium. We have not been able to establish the validity of the cultivar 'Mesbicla' or how this species name and cultivar got associated with the herein plant.

Genus named means middle-embryo flower in reference to the position of the ovary in the flower.

Specific epithet means heart-shaped leaf.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Too much soil moisture combined with poorly-drained soils may lead to the onset of root rot.

Garden Uses

In USDA Zones 10-11, heartleaf ice plant serves as an excellent bedding plant or ground cover for rock gardens or small garden areas. Where not winter hardy, grow as an annual in the ground or in containers and hanging baskets.