In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
April, 2008
Regional Report

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Delospermum makes a glorious ground cover for early-spring color.

Glorious Ground Cover

This brilliant magenta ground cover is an annual two-month-long glory on the hillsides in front of and behind our home. The explosion of color inspires gasps of wonder from visitors and the slowing of cars passing by. The color on the back hillside even casts a distinct pink glow on our living room's walnut walls.

My mom always called it mesembryanthemum, but the ice plant's name has been changed to Delospermum cooperi. The "icicles" are only an inch long and glistening. Two years ago, after 40 years of increasing dead growth underneath, we ripped it all out and replanted the hillsides. The tandem of mild winters and summers -- even with last year's minimal rain -- enabled thorough rooting with only biweekly watering.

Establishing a Patch
Replanting is extremely easy. Use end cuttings for the most vigorous growth. Anchor foot-long strands with their center four nodes covered with soil. Place them about a foot apart, alternating rows for a triangulated pattern. I double them up, with two strands per planting, to ensure that at least one "takes." Sprinkle morning and evening for two weeks to keep the strands moist and encourage rooting.

Once new growth appears, reduce the frequency of watering to every other week until the soil is covered with plants. Be sure to remove weeds that germinate due to moisture and exposure to warming sun. Once established, water only once a month or so, but deeply, so roots continue to anchor the hillside.

At the bottom of the slope, poppies and bulbs, including species freesias (the original cream-colored and extremely fragrant freesia) I planted years ago benefit from the moisture working its way down the slope. They eventually dry out and go dormant during the summer.


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