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Oscularia deltoides


What started as an innocent gift from a dear friend has turned out to be one of the hardiest potted plants in the garden. Oscularia deltoides, which shares its common name, ice plant, with too many other succulent species, is a prolific spring/summer bloomer that never seems to stop growing. Upping the container from its original, each year it cascades down the pot's sides and would endlessly creep along the ground if I did not give it a severe pruning after blooming. The resulting haircut reveals desiccated limbs from years past, but it does not take long to overcome its untidiness to once again flourish beyond its confined space.


I am thinking of areas in the garden where I might transplant it, to let it run free and crowd out any weeds. Am I inviting annoyances by allowing it to expand, or will it be a show stopping ground cover with pink flowers (apparently fragrant, I never tried to smell them) and an unusual leaf shape? It feels right to give it a try.


Sunset features a small section, "Meet the Ice Plants" for general information about their habits, which include at least nine species if not more (p. 371). The University of Arkansas references about 180 species, and most will share similar characteristics as succulents that trail like a ground cover. O. deltoides is one of them. What this ice plant is not, thankfully, is invasive, as several others are listed on California's Invasive Plant Councils database, even featuring one such species on their website's banner.


Since O. deltoides is not listed as invasive, despite its aggressive stance in my garden, it certainly has its place. Clearly, I am ready to give it its freedom and see how it will perform outside of container gardening. More later as I monitor its performance.


 

facts

Botanical Name: Oscularia deltoides

Oscularia: Latin, osculum for little mouth (the appearance of the foliage)

Deltoides: Triangular, as in the foliage shape

Common Name: Ice plant

Family Name: Aizoaceae


Origin: South Africa


design considerations


Positioning: Foreground, raised planters, slopes

Garden Themes: Mediterranean/dry, container, pollinator, succulent, moonlight

Uses: Ground cover, mass, hillsides, potted, raised planters to allow cascading, hanging baskets


identifying characteristics


Type: Succulent

Form: Mounding, spreading, arching

Texture: Fine

Size: 1' tall and spreading


Outstanding Feature(s): Flower, foliage


Stem: Slightly red turning gray with maturity

Leaf:

  • Type: Simple

  • Arrangement: Decussate

  • Shape: Three-sided, faceted

  • Margin: Slight dentate with red tips

  • Color: Gray-green, blue-green

  • Surface: Glabrous, fleshy

Flower: Spring to Summer. Small, composite, daisy-like, lavender/pink with slight scent. Showy

Fruit: Autumn. Capsule. Sunset recommends deadheading to eliminate unattractive fruit.


cultural requirements, tolerances & problems


Sunset Zones: 14-24

USDA Zones: 8-11


Light: Sun

WUCOLS SF Bay Area Hydro Zone: Low

Soil:

  • Texture: Sand, rocky

  • Moisture Retention: Well-drained

  • pH: Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline

Tolerances: Drought

Problems:

  • Branch Strength: N/A

  • Insects: Not recorded at time of posting

  • Disease: Rot


citations & attributions


Bayton, R. (2019). The Royal Horticultural Society's the Gardener's Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names. London: Mitchell Beazley.


Cal-IPC. "Plants A to Z." California Invasive Plant Council, Berkeley. Accessed on September 4, 2021, from https://www.cal-ipc.org/plants/profiles/.


Klingaman, G. (2013, July 23). "Plant of the Week: Ice Plant." University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Little Rock. Accessed on September 4, 2021, from https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/ice-plants-7-26-13.aspx.


Norris Brenzel, K. (Ed.). (2012). The New Sunset Western Garden Book. New York: Time Home Entertainment, Inc.


Plant Z Africa. "Oscularia deltoides." South African National Biodiversity Institute, Brummeria. Accessed on September 4, 2021 from http://pza.sanbi.org/oscularia-deltoides.


Products. "Oscularia caulescens." San Marcos Growers, Santa Barbara. Accessed on September 4, 2021 from https://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=3819.


Water Use Classification of Landscape Species. "WUCOLS IV Plant List." University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Davis. Accessed on July 27, 2021.

https://ucanr.edu/sites/WUCOLS/Download_WUCOLS_IV_List/.


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