Lampranthus - Ice Plant, Lampranthus
DESCRIPTION: This group of gorgeous, flowering succulents comes from southern Africa. These plants have various habits of growth; some are creeping and some are bushy; some flower for a short time, while others bloom from spring to fall. These succulents are grown mainly for their pretty, daisy-like flowers and fairly hardy nature. The flowers, which grow at the stem tips and need sun to open, come in an array of colors including yellow, scarlet, magenta, red, and orange. L. haworthii is a beautiful, bushy variety that grows up to 2 feet high with an unlimited spread. The candelabra-like leaves of this plant are blue-green and fleshy. In the spring, this plant is blanketed by large, bright pink, magenta, or purple flowers. These flowers grow up to 2 inches across and are followed by fleshy fruits, which are woody when ripe. L. aurantiacus is another pretty variety that bears brilliant orange flowers in the spring. The erect-growing stems of this plant eventually grow prostrate. Their tapering leaves are bluish-green.
POTTING: These plants need a minimum temperature of 36º F. In unsuitable climates, they may be grown in containers indoors. The best soil to use consists of two parts sandy loam and one part of equal quantities of sand, crushed bricks and limestone chips. For vigorous-growing plants, repotting should be done annually in March. Water freely during the summer and let the soil become dry before watering in the winter.
PROPAGATION: Cuttings can be taken from March to September. Shoots, 2-6 inches long, are taken and stripped of their lower leaves. Like all succulent plants, the cuttings should be laid on a bench for a few hours to allow a protective skin to form over the cuts. They can then be inserted into sand or sandy soil. The pots are set in a cold frame until they've formed roots. They are then potted in 3-inch pots and later, in larger pots. Seeds also may be used. They sprout quickly in well-drained pots of sandy soil placed in a light location kept above 55 degrees.
VARIETIES: L. aureus (18 in. high, 2in. wide, golden flowers); L. coccineus (up to 3 ft., speckled leaves & scarlet flowers); L. glaucus (2 ft., flat, rough-dotted leaves & sulphur yellow flowers); L. reptans (dotted, grayish-green leaves & yellow flowers); L. spectabilis; L. aurantiacus; L. haworthii.
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