The succulent evergreen with brilliant blooms has three-sided leaves that form a thick, fleshy green mat. The common ice plant grows six inches to one foot, spreading three feet through an aggressive rooting system. Its bold foliage and warm season color makes it a great choice as a groundcover. The common ice plant produces small, aster-like flowers in shades of red, pink, purple, or magenta, depending on the variety. The blossoms are showy from early summer into the fall. Its flowers are sterile and do not produce any seed. Use it in sunny gardens, train it to trail down a vertical wall, or plant it in rock gardens or around pools and water features. The common ice plant can also be used in heavily eroded areas to root into the soil as a bank cover. It is an excellent choice for beachfront landscapes because it tolerates salty conditions. Rabbits may eat the plant, so when it is young, place chicken wire for protection. The ice plant is native to the Pacific coastline from Oregon down to Baja California, as well as in Chile and South Africa. It species name, Chilensis, comes from the Latin name for Chile. The plant can become highly invasive in some areas.
This fast-growing, perennial groundcover spreads quickly and requires minimal maintenance. While drought-tolerant, it requires occasional water at least once per month. It needs full sun and good drainage and is easy to propagate. Prune off fleshy stems and re-plant them in amended, well-draining soil. Provide irrigation and they will re-grow in other parts of the landscape. The plant can be walked on and will bear a great deal of human disturbance and foot traffic. It is hardy into the low twenties Fahrenheit.