After two trips to the Republic of South Africa and over two decades growing and testing South African flora in the high, cold desert of northern New Mexico, I've become a great fan of these Old World plants. And the cold hardy Ice Plants (Delosperma) are among my favorites. Few plant genera can compete with the brilliance of their flowers, the attractiveness of their foliage and their value as a nectar source for honeybees.
Red Mountain® Flame (Delosperma x PPWG02S) is my latest introduction and one I'm particularly excited about. The original mother plant showed up as a seedling among a large group of ice plants that I grew from seed. Its performance in my trial garden demonstrated it to be a superior plant exhibiting both excellent cold hardiness and outstanding durability as a groundcover. Flame blooms beginning in mid-to late spring and sets the garden on fire with its large, brilliant scarlet-orange flowers. Low growing (only about 2" tall in bloom), it grows to form a dense mat of evergreen foliage that has a pleasing bronze color over the winter months.
Delosperma is an indispensable groundcover for the Western United States, and will be successful in other parts of the country when grown properly. Here are some helpful hints about growing them in your yard.
Plant them in a well drained, non-clay soil in full sun (except 'Gold Nugget' which likes afternoon shade).
Delosperma does best when grown in beds covered with gravel mulch. The plant loves to ramble across the gravel which keeps its stems and leaves out of direct contact with the soil, while the roots are cool and moist under the gravel blanket. Keeping the stems and leaves dry during the soggy freeze/thaw cycle of spring is key to keeping these plants alive and healthy.
In arid climates, they need irrigation during the growing season; they don't like to be grown too dry. (But over the winter, "dry" is good.)
In cold climates, condition the plants for winter by withholding irrigation water during the fall months.
In areas where snow stays on the ground for long periods of time over the winter and spring, protect the plants from wet conditions by covering them with a piece of frost blanket fabric (also known as "row crop cover").
Protect from rabbits who love the water-filled leaves.
Delosperma Red Mountain® Flame is an excellent companion plant for other late spring blooming perennials and shares a need for similar growing conditions.