Tri-colored Ice

 

Delosperma Firespinner® (Firespinner Cold Hardy Ice Plant)

About 25 years ago, Panayoti Kelaides of  the Denver Botanic Garden brought the first cold hardy iceplant, Delosperma cooperi into cultivation. This magenta flowered beauty was a revelation. Who had ever heard of an Iceplant that could live in a cold winter climate?  Since that first introduction the genus Delosperma, with its various cold hardy species and hybrids, has become a staple groundcover and rock garden plant in waterwise landscapes throughout the intermountain West.

 

Well, Mr. Kelaides has done it again with the introduction of Delosperma Firespinner ®. It’s a rare occurrence when a new plant with such vividly and unusually colored flowers is brought into cultivation. Chosen to receive a Direct Gardening Association’s 2012 Greenthumb award (formally known as the Mail Order Gardening Assoc.) and as a 2012 Plant Select® winner, this dazzling groundcover is getting lots of attention in the gardening world.

 

Blooming for about 4 weeks beginning in late spring/early summer, the outrageous tri-colored flowers sit right on top of the plant’s evergreen foliage. Plant it into well drained soil and mulch with crushed gravel in full sun. It is cold hardy in USDA zones 5-8. Note that Firespinner® needs some cold winter temperatures to bloom in the spring. So unlike many of the other Iceplants, it is NOT recommended for planting in zones 9, 10 and 11 because of the lack of winter cold.

 

Aloinopsis ‘Karoo Red’ (Hybrid Aloinopsis)

Closely related to the Delosperma, are other members of the large family of succulent plants known as the Aizoaceae. Native primarily to South Africa, this fascinating family of plants have very brightly colored, shimmering flowers and some of the most unusual foliage in the plant kingdom. Rock gardeners love these small growing jewels. ‘Karoo Red’ is a spectacular hybrid that I found about 5 years ago in one of my flats of Aloinopsis aff. villetii. A cross between Aloinopsis spathulata and Aloinopsis aff. villetii (a new subspecies I discovered in South Africa in 2003), the plant has a similar tri-colored flowers to Firespinner® held over scalloped shaped succulent leaves. Requiring fast draining, nutrient poor soil and full sun, ‘Karoo Red ‘ loves to be tucked into rock crevices where its enormous tap root can grown deeply into the ground. Cold hardy in USDA zones 6-8.

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