in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Growing Mesembryanthemum cordifolium: Baby Sun Rose

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Form: A mat-forming, succulent subshrub growing from a woody base.
Lifespan: 2-3 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen in regions without freezes.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 6" high and 12-24" wide.
Flowers: Dozens of bright pink to purple-red, very narrow, petals surround a center of yellow stamens. The flowers open morning and close at night.
Bloom: Spring to fall.
Fruit: Tiny, green, apple-like, containing four seeds.
Leaves: Medium green, succulent, smooth, edible.
Stems: No thorns. The stems grow roots where their nodes touch moist soil.
Roots: Fibrous, often fleshy. They are subject to root rot in continually moist soil.
Wildlife: Attracts bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds when it is more than 3' off the ground.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: South Africa.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9-10. It will die to the ground in hard freezes.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water after becoming established: At least once a month. More frequent water will maintain its appearance in the hottest months of the year, but is not necessary for survival. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Do not overwater.
Soil: Well drained, dry, low in organic content, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline).
Mulch: No.
Planting: This plant can be grown in containers. Avoid areas with foot traffic.
Prune: Only if dead sections appear.
Litter: This plant dies after a few years and may be replaced by new seedlings.
Propagation: Stem cuttings that include a leaf node, or seed sown in summer.
Uses: Ornamental ground cover, weed suppression, erosion control on mild slopes.

This plant is a member of the Ice Plant family (Aizoaceae). Its former scientific name and synonym is Aptenia cordifolia. Another common name is Heartleaf Iceplant.
The most commonly sold cultivar is 'Red Apple', a hybrid of Mesembryanthemum cordifolium and M. haeckelianum.
This plant is invasive and quite vigorous near wetlands and moist areas. In California it is considered an invasive weed.

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Latest update: July, 2020.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium: Baby Sun Rose flowers

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium with hummingbird