Choose the Right Time for Propagation
The ideal time for ice plant propagation from cuttings or seeds is during the spring and summer when the plants are actively growing. The warm temperatures and increased sunlight during these seasons speed up germination and rooting, allowing new ice plant seedlings and cuttings to establish quickly.
For propagation from seeds, the time between [[Wikipedia|spring]] and midsummer is best. Sow ice plant seeds in well-draining seedling mix and keep the soil moderately moist while the seeds are germinating. Seedlings can take 3 to 6 weeks to become established and should be transplanted into the garden after the last spring frost.
For stem cuttings, the time between late spring and early fall is optimal for rooting ice plant cuttings. Cuttings taken from mature, healthy plants during this time will root within 3 to 4 weeks when provided with bottom heat and humidity. Once the cuttings have rooted and developed new growth, they can be transplanted into your garden.
To propagate ice plants through division, the best time is after they finish flowering in late spring when the soil is warm and the plants have the whole growing season to re-establish themselves. Divide ice plants in early summer for the fastest regrowth and establishment. With the right timing and care,ice plants can thrive through propagation.
Collect Seeds from Mature Plants
To successfully propagate ice plants from seed, collect seeds from mature, healthy plants. Mature ice plants will produce seed pods that are dry and brown. Once the seed pods start to split open, the seeds inside should be fully mature and ready to collect.
Here are some tips for collecting ice plant seeds:
•Allow seed pods to dry on the plant. Collect seeds once the pods have dried out and started to split open. Dry, split pods indicate the seeds inside are mature and ready to harvest.
•Collect seeds from multiple plants. Gathering seeds from 3-5 healthy ice plants will produce good genetic diversity among your seedlings.
•Collect seeds on a dry day. Pick seeds when the plants and pods are dry to avoid collecting moldy seeds. Only collect seeds if there has been no rain for at least 1-2 days.
•Wear gloves and be careful of sap. Ice plant sap and leaves may irritate the skin. Gloves will protect your hands, and be careful not to get sap in your eyes.
•Gently crush pods to release seeds. Pods that have started to split open can be gently crushed between your fingers to release the seeds inside. Shake the seeds out of smaller pods into a container.
•Allow seeds to dry completely before storing. Spread the collected seeds out on a plate or screen to dry away from direct sunlight. Keep in a cool, dry spot for 1 to 2 weeks until the seeds are dried out. Discard any soft, moldy or damaged seeds.
•Properly store seeds for planting. Place the dried seeds in an airtight container, such as a plastic or glass jar with an airtight lid. Label and date the container and store in the refrigerator or another cool area. Stored properly, ice plant seeds can remain viable for up to 3-5 years.
When propagating ice plants from seed, starting with mature, healthy seeds is key. Collecting seeds at the right time and following proper harvesting and storage methods will provide you with viable seeds ready to germinate when planted. With care and patience, mature ice plant seeds can produce a successful crop of new seedlings.
Prepare the Soil for Planting
To successfully propagate and grow ice plants, preparing the proper soil conditions is essential. Ice plants require well-drained, sandy soils with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. The ideal soil mixture for ice plants is:
- 2 parts coarse sand or perlite – Provides drainage
- 1 part peat moss or compost – Improves moisture retention
- 1 part native soil – Provides nutrients
If you do not have access to these components, a commercial cactus and succulent soil mix can work as well. Here are some tips for preparing the soil for your ice plants:
•Provide good drainage. Adding perlite, gravel, or sand creates air pockets in the soil that allow water to drain freely. Without good drainage, ice plants can succumb to root rot.
•Use containers with drainage holes. When growing ice plants in containers, choose pots with drainage holes and fill the bottom 1/3 with perlite before adding the soil mixture.
•Test your soil pH. The ideal pH range for ice plants is between 6 and 7.5. Slightly acidic or neutral soils suit them best. Test your native soil and adjust as needed to reach the proper range.
•Mix in organic matter. Adding compost or peat moss helps increase moisture retention while still providing drainage. Aim for no more than 1/3 organic matter in your soil mixture.
•Fill containers to within 1 inch of the rim. Leave some space at the top of the planter to allow room for watering. This allows water to drain sufficiently and prevents overflow.
•Water thoroughly after planting. Water new cuttings or transplants thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the roots. Let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering again.
•Fertilize during the growing season. During the active growing season in late spring through summer, fertilize ice plants once a month with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer applied at 1/2 the recommended strength. Dilute fertilizer to 1/4 strength for new cuttings or seedlings.
With the proper soil conditions and care, your ice plants should thrive when propagated and planted. Monitoring soil drainage and fertility will keep your ice plants happy and allow them to reach their full potential.
Use the Appropriate Propagation Method
There are several effective methods for propagating new ice plants, including propagation from:
The method you choose depends on the resources you have available and your experience level. Here is an overview of the common methods for propagating ice plants:
Propagation from Seed
Starting ice plants from seed is an easy and inexpensive method, but can take 3-6 months for seedlings to mature. To propagate from seed, collect and sow seeds during spring and summer following the tips provided in the “Collect Seeds from Mature Plants” section.
Propagation from Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings involve taking cuttings from healthy, mature ice plants and rooting them to produce new plants. Take 3 to 6 inch cuttings from the tips of stems and remove the lower leaves. Allow the cutting to dry for 1 day before dipping in rooting hormone (optional) and planting in well-draining rooting medium. Provide humidity and bottom heat, and new roots should form in 3 to 4 weeks.
Propagation from Leaf Pullings
Leaf pullings involve removing mature, plump leaves from the mother plant and propagating small plantlets that form at the base of the leaf. Twist or cut off leaves at the base, dip the end in rooting hormone (optional), and lay on rooting medium. New plantlets take 1 to 2 months to form, at which point they can be transplanted as seedlings.
Propagation Through Division
Division involves separating an overgrown ice plant into multiple smaller plants. During late spring, uproot the entire plant and separate it into divisions containing both roots and stems. Replant the divisions immediately and water thoroughly. Division allows mature ice plants to propagate quickly, while reducing the plant size.
With the proper technique and care, all of these methods can be successful for propagating new, healthy ice plants from your established plants. Take time to choose a propagation method that suits your needs and experience level. With patience, you’ll soon have new baby ice plants ready to plant in your garden!
Ensure Proper Drainage for Seedlings
Proper drainage is essential for ice plant seedlings to survive and thrive. Ice plants are susceptible to root rot if soil is kept too wet, so ensuring excess water can drain away from the roots is key. Here are some tips to provide good drainage for your ice plant seedlings:
•Use a commercial cactus and succulent soil mix. These mixes are formulated to drain well while still retaining some moisture. They contain perlite, sand, and limited peat moss or compost.
•Amend native soil with perlite or sand. For every 2 parts native soil, add 1 part perlite or coarse sand. Perlite and sand provide air space in the soil that allows water to drain.
•Utilize containers with drainage holes. When propagating ice plants in containers, choose pots with multiple drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the bottom 1/3 of the pot with perlite before adding the soil mixture.
•Create a drainage layer. Add a layer of perlite, gravel, or pumice to the bottom of larger planters and hanging baskets before filling with your soil mixture. This creates a reservoir for excess water to drain into.
•Do not overwater. Allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out between waterings. Water seedlings thoroughly but do not leave the soil soggy, which can lead to root rot.
•Ensure good airflow. Place seedlings where they will receive good airflow, such as near a circulating fan. Good airflow helps excess moisture evaporate from the soil surface and prevents disease.
•Elevate planters. If planting seedlings in low-lying areas where water may puddle, place them on elevated platforms such as plant stands, wooden pallets, or bricks. This allows water to drain away from the base of the planter.
•Gently slope the soil surface. When sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings into the garden bed, create a slight slope to the soil surface to direct water flow away from the base of the plants. The slope only needs to be slight, about 1 inch lower over 6 to 10 inches.
Providing proper drainage and preventing overwatering is key to success with ice plant seedlings. With the right soil, planters, and watering technique, your seedlings should thrive as they become established. Monitoring soil moisture closely, especially for the first few months, will help get your new ice plant propagation off to a healthy start.
Protect Seedlings from Extreme Weather
Ice plant seedlings are susceptible to damage from harsh environmental conditions, including extreme heat, cold, and excess rain. Protecting your seedlings will ensure they become well-established as they develop. Some methods for protecting seedlings from extreme weather include:
Excess sun and heat can scorch young ice plant leaves and roots. Provide partial shade for seedlings, especially during the middle of the day. Place seedlings under shade cloth, place on the east side of a building, or use shade umbrellas to block about 50% of the sunlight.
Insulate from Frost
Frost and freezing temperatures can kill ice plant seedlings. If frosty weather is expected, provide insulation and protection:
•Place mulch around the base of plants. 2 to 3 inches of mulch will help insulate roots from freezing.
•Cover seedlings overnight. Use frost protection cloth, blankets, towels, or clear plastic sheeting to cover seedlings during freezing nights. Anchor coverings around the edges to protect from wind.
•Use cloches or tents. Clear plastic cloches and tents help retain heat around seedlings on cold nights. Ventilate on warmer days to prevent overheating.
•Bring plants indoors. If practical, dig up your ice plant seedlings and bring them indoors overnight during hard freezes. Keep soil moderately moist while indoors and place in a sunny spot. Return outdoors once temperatures warm and there is no threat of further frosts.
Provide Protection from Excess Rain
Heavy rains can drench seedlings, leading to root rot and fungal issues.
•Use rain gutters or canopies. Place gutters, canopies, or overhangs over seedlings to redirect rainwater away from the soil.
•Improve drainage. Add perlite, gravel, or pumice below and around seedlings to help move water away from the roots.
•Cover plants during heavy rain. Use cloches, tarps, or plastic sheeting to cover seedlings during periods of heavy rain. Remove covers once rain has stopped to avoid overheating and allow for airflow.
•Avoid overhead watering. Water seedlings at the base of the plant to avoid getting the leaves and stems excessively wet. Let foliage dry between waterings.
Protecting your ice plant seedlings from extreme weather conditions will help ensure they thrive during propagation and become established for planting in your garden. Carefully monitoring weather forecasts and providing the necessary protection and shelter will help your new seedlings survive and develop into hardy plants.
Fertilize Your Ice Plants Regularly
While ice plants are relatively low-maintenance, providing regular fertilizer during the growing season will help them thrive. Here are some tips for fertilizing your ice plants:
•Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. A fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (such as 10-10-10) works well for ice plants. Alternatively, you can use a fertilizer formulated for cactus and succulents.
• fertilizer to 1/2 the strength recommended on the package. Dilute the fertilizer in water to half the recommended concentration. For new cuttings or seedlings, further dilute to 1/4 strength. Full-strength fertilizer may burn young plants.
•Fertilize once a month during the growing season. From late spring through summer while your ice plants are actively growing, fertilize once every 4 to 6 weeks. Discontinue feeding in fall and winter when growth slows down.
•Apply in the morning when the soil is moist. Fertilize just before watering your ice plants or in the morning when the soil is still damp from rain or watering. Do not fertilize if the soil is completely dry.
•Never apply fertilizer to dry leaves. Always water fertilizer in to avoid burning the leaves. Do not spray fertilizer solutions directly onto the ice plant foliage.
•For potted plants, less is more. When fertilizing potted ice plants, use a fertilizer concentration on the lower end of the recommended range. Soil in pots holds nutrients differently than garden soil, and excess fertilizer can easily build up to levels that burn the roots.
• Watch for signs of nutrient deficiencies. If ice plant leaves start to turn yellow, crinkle, or develop strange spotting, the plant may need more nutrients. Provide a balanced fertilizer and be careful not to overwater, which can leach nutrients from the soil.
•Flush the soil every few months. Once every 2-3 months, water your ice plants heavily to flush excess fertilizer and mineral salts from the soil. Allow the water to run through for several minutes to clear out built-up nutrients. Then return to your normal watering schedule.
With proper care and feeding, your ice plants should produce healthy green growth and abundant flowers. But be careful, as too much fertilizer, especially in potted plants, may cause fertilizer burn. Monitoring your plants and following recommended product instructions will help ensure your fertilizing regimen is effective and providing enough nutrients for your thriving ice plants.
Prune Your Ice Plants for Optimal Growth
While ice plants typically require minimal pruning to maintain their shape, some strategic pruning will help promote flowering and a healthy form. Here are some tips for pruning your ice plants:
•Prune after flowering in late spring or summer. Once ice plants have finished blooming for the season, prune them to shape the plant and promote new growth. Pruning at this time will not remove next year’s flower buds.
•Remove dead or dying stems. Cut off any dead, damaged, or crossing stems at their point of origin. Pruning out dead growth will improve the appearance and health of your ice plant.
•Shape plants by pruning branch tips. To maintain the natural shape of your ice plant or reduce its size slightly, simply prune the tips of stems by pinching off 2 to 6 inches. New shoots will develop further down the stem.
•Thin dense growth. If your ice plant has become very thick and dense, pruning it to open up the center and allow for better airflow can help prevent disease and improve the plant’s vigor. Remove select stems at their base where they attach to other stems or the main trunk.
•Prune minimally in fall before flowering buds form. While major pruning should be done after flowering in summer, some touch up pruning in fall before buds set can be done if needed. Be careful not to remove next year’s flower buds.
•Repot root bound container plants. Ice plants grown in containers may need occasional root pruning or repotting in fresh soil to maintain health. If roots become tightly packed in the pot, growth and flowering will decline. Repot one size up and replace some of the old soil.
•Routinely remove spent flowers. While not strictly pruning, deadheading your ice plant by pinching off faded flowers and their stems will promote continued blooming and a neat appearance. Remove flowers once they start to turn brown and die back.
•Wear gloves and use clean shears. Ice plants can irritate the skin, so wear gloves when pruning. Also, sanitize pruning shears in between cuts with rubbing alcohol to avoid disease transmission.
With regular pruning and maintenance, your ice plants should continue producing abundant flowers and healthy, compact growth for years to come. But be cautious not to remove too much of the plant at once, especially when shaping young specimens. Careful pruning and deadheading is all that is typically required to keep most ice plants looking their best.