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The various species of the ice plant, derived from the Greek Delosperma, originally come from Africa. Since we now also like to use it for garden design, the question of overwintering the ice plant, which is justified in our latitudes, arises. Although they are not actually exposed to frost in their homeland, the popular ornamental plants can also be brought through the winter in Germany with a few tricks.

Hardy midday flowers

Although they all belong to the ice plant family, the individual Delosperma species differ in terms of their hardiness. Some species are explicitly known to be hardy, while other species, or lack of knowledge about the exact species in their own garden, quickly lead to uncertainties among hobby gardeners.

General indications of winter hardiness

Regardless of the exact species, a few characteristics can be used to reliably estimate whether the ice plant in question is hardy or whether it requires more effort to overwinter.

The most obvious sign of a certain winter hardiness is a squat growth. More compact ice plant species are less sensitive to frost than species with tall inflorescences. The clump formation of the plant body is also an indication of a higher frost resistance compared to ice plants without a pronounced clump of plants. Due to a more compact form of the plant, particularly finely developed and therefore frost-prone components are avoided.

Ice plant species known to be hardy

These midday flowers, which are widespread in our country, are considered hardy and are therefore particularly suitable for outdoor use:

  • Delosperma Red Fire
  • Delosperma Indian Summer
  • Delosperma Fire Spinner
  • Delosperma African Queen
  • Delosperma Golden Nugget
Delosperma Fire Spinner


Prerequisites for a successful hibernation

In order to get the midday flowers in your own garden through the winter undamaged, an understanding of the problems involved in overwintering is one of the indispensable basic requirements. Contrary to popular belief, the actual cold is not the critical factor in terms of ice plant hardiness. Instead, two aspects can be clearly identified that only become a serious problem in connection with the winter cold.

  1. Humidity: The ice plant prefers full sun and rather dry locations. From her homeland she knows and loves sandy soil without waterlogging. If you compare our rather heavy soil and the high amounts of precipitation in winter, it quickly becomes clear that the conditions here are not ideal. Excessive soil moisture is a problem, especially in winter. On the one hand, wet soil dries out very slowly in winter, so that standing water can easily lead to rotting of the root areas and thus to the death of the plant. The second disadvantage of high soil moisture is the damaging effect on the finest root segments when the water in the soil freezes through during periods of frost and expands considerably in the soil.
  2. Kahlfrost: Winter temperatures are always no problem if a protective layer of snow protects the soil and plants from the intense effects of frost. On the other hand, if this insulation is missing, hard frost will reach the plant unabated and can cause considerable damage there. One speaks of frost because the frost reaches the bare, not snow-covered ground directly. Especially the snowless winters with short periods of extreme cold, which have been increasing in recent years, are extremely unfavorable for the winter plant.

This is how the ice plant overwinters

In the case of hardy or at least partially hardy Delosperma species, effective protection of the plant over the winter can be achieved with just a few measures. Even unfavorable hibernation conditions and extreme weather events can be managed so well.

  • Creation of a drainage-capable soil by adding gravel/sand to increase water drainage
  • Covering of the planted areas to reduce precipitation moisture
  • Replacement of a missing, frost-protecting snow cover with brushwood, coconut mats, or similar materials
Ice Plant, Delosperma

What to do with non-hardy Delosperma varieties?

If, on the other hand, your own Delosperma is not hardy, the only option for safe hibernation is to place it in a plant pot. In the pot, it should then survive the winter in a frost-protected but unheated room with sufficient daylight. Temperatures above 5°C should be avoided, otherwise the plant will interrupt its hibernation and begin to form new shoots.

Tip: Neither, or only partially hardy ice plants, can survive the cold season. Since the Delosperma species reproduce by self-seeding at the same location, after the mother plant dies in winter, a new seedling often emerges from the seeds already in the soil, which revitalizes the location of the old plant as spring approaches.

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