Mesembryanthemum is a low-growing flowering ground cover of pure succulents that grows in the South-Eastern regions of Africa, the Australian continent, and the Mediterranean. Most representatives of the culture are found in dry deserts, where the sun mercilessly burns during the day, and at night the temperature can drop to sub-zero temperatures. Its unpronounceable name has a simple translation – blooming at noon. Among lovers of succulents, it is known under the names of crystal chamomile, midday sun, ice grass. Mesembryanthemum really looks like a brilliant ice daisy, sparkling in the sun with its diamond leaves and petals. It is not difficult to plant and grow these flowers in open ground in Russian gardens. Their natural endurance makes it possible to do this with proper fit and proper care.
General botanical description, photo
Mesembryanthemum is a genus of flowering herbs, occasionally shrubs, from the Aizov family. It has many species, among which there are both annuals and representatives of a long-term life cycle. It is a succulent – a plant whose tissues are able to accumulate moisture reserves, due to which the aerial parts of the plant look fleshy, juicy. The shoots of most species are erect, short, while others can be creeping or ascending, up to 30 cm long. The mesembryanthemum stems have a characteristic shiny pubescence. On the surface of dense thick leaves are small papilla-reservoirs filled with plant juice. Under the sun’s rays, they shine like ice or the smallest pieces of crystal.
Axillary inflorescences with narrow, sometimes needle-shaped petals have a chamomile shape, their color is very diverse – yellow, pink, snow-white, red, burgundy, purple, purple. Flowering is of medium duration, depending on the species, after which a multi-seeded fruit box ripens on the peduncle.
A characteristic feature of the flower is its sensitivity to sunlight. By evening or in cloudy weather, its corollas are closed.
Mesembryanthemum can be grown at home as an indoor flower. Of the varieties for this purpose, tiger and echinatum are more suitable than others. The main difficulty in home care will be the need to provide a difference between night and day temperatures.
Types and varieties of mesembryanthemum with a photo
About fifty varieties of succulents have been classified.
The second name of this plant is doroteanthus daisy. Botanists take this species as the original, basic. A low groundcover with creeping shoots up to 30 cm, the height of the curtain does not exceed 15 cm. The color of the flowers is very diverse, including variegated combinations. In appearance, it really resembles daisies, but with slightly longer petals. Blooms in the second half of summer.
It is this species native to the South African deserts that is called crystal grass for the droplets-reservoirs sparkling in the sun on the leaves and wide-spreading shoots. From a distance it seems that they are touched by soil frosts and covered with hoarfrost. For its high decorativeness, this species is the most popular among gardeners. It has strongly branched shoots, the color of its flowers is diverse. The height of the curtain is 15 cm. The leaf plates are oval with wavy edges, light green in color. The most cultivated varieties of domestic selection:
- “Sparks” – has light whitish-yellow leaves and differently colored flowers similar to daisies with a diameter of up to 45 mm.
- “Harlequin” – the buds are painted in two bright colors, pink and orange.
- “Limpopo” – is a mixture of highly decorative representatives of this species. Due to the selection of varieties, flowering is very long, from the beginning of summer and almost to October.
Landscape designers most often use daisy mesembryanthemum in their compositions, extending this name to other varieties.
Mesembryanthemum gramineous (tricolor)
Small species up to 12 cm tall with an unusual pale red color of the stems. The leaves are linear, pubescent, fleshy, up to 0.5 cm in length. It blooms with carmine-red inflorescences with a darker colored core. The flowers are small, not more than 35 mm in diameter.
This variety is grown in culture as a ground cover, however, in its natural habitat, it is a semi-shrub. The leaves are oval, strongly thickened in the middle, arranged vertically. In warm weather, they are painted in a light emerald color, but when it gets cold, they easily change color to a bronze tone. Frost-resistant variety with a short flowering period of up to 2 weeks. The color of the shiny petals is golden yellow, bright orange, red or purple. The colors are pure, without halftones, the diameter of open inflorescences is 35 mm.
Mesembryanthemum ocellar (yellow-flowered)
It is valued by flower growers for its unusual color – the main tone of the petals is bright yellow, and the center of the inflorescence, stamens and pistil are painted bright red. The bushes are low, up to 10 cm, the leaf plates are lanceolate-lanceolate, up to 4.5 cm.
How to plant mesembryanthemum
These flowers can be propagated vegetatively and generatively (by seeds).
In the fall, after flowering, well-developed healthy adult specimens should be selected and divided into cuttings, which are stored in a cold, dark room (recommended temperature + 10C). Transfer for planting in open ground is carried out in spring, depending on the climatic zone and weather conditions from March to May. After planting, it is important to organize the correct watering regimen. On the one hand, it is necessary to create conditions for successful rooting, for which the soil should not be excessively dry, on the other hand, succulents do not like excess moisture and rot easily.
Important! Mesembryanthemum cuttings are prone to rotting when stored in an excessively humid room.
How to plant mesembryanthemum seedlings?
Flowers can be grown both by sowing in open ground and by seedlings. The second method is more popular and more reliable. The algorithm for its implementation is common. In light and loose soil with predominant sand content, mesembryanthemum seeds are planted by the surface method, without deepening. Sowing seeds is done in March or April. The germination of crystal chamomile seeds lasts for 2 years and has high rates. From above, sowing is covered with a film to create greenhouse conditions. This is the only period in the life of the mesembryanthemum when it needs high humidity at home. However, the temperature should not be too high, but rather cool.
Shoots appear unevenly, the first shoots can be seen after a week, the bulk will appear within the next 2.5-3 weeks. After that, it is important to provide seedlings with high-quality lighting. Watering is carried out extremely moderately, the earth should not be wet, but only slightly damp, its short-term drying is allowed. The room temperature should be cool or even cold.
When to dive?
Mesembryanthemum does not like transplants due to the rapidly expanding root system, therefore, if possible, it is better to avoid picks by immediately planting the seeds in separate containers, 2-3 per pot. If this is not possible, you need to make a pick as soon as possible, at the stage of growth of 2-3 leaves. Root pinching is not required.
When to plant seedlings in open ground?
The usual time for planting seedlings is the end of May or the beginning of June. Young seedlings grown at home do not tolerate frost well. In the case of gradual hardening, the dates can be shifted to the beginning of May. The planting scheme for ordinary ground cover species is 10 * 15 cm. Tall varieties with long shoots are planted half as often.
Direct planting in open ground
Possible only in the southern regions or at a later date. The algorithm of actions is similar to the seedling method.
Landing and care
The place for planting the mesembryanthemum should be chosen open to the sun, in this respect the succulent does not compromise. In nature, crystal chamomile grows in open, dry areas, including southern rocky slopes. The soil is preferably sandy and sandy, always light, with high-quality aerobic performance. If there is no confidence in the sufficient permeability of the soil, you need to take care of a powerful drainage layer.
The contact of the stems and leaves of the mesembryanthemum with moist soil easily causes them to rot. For preventive purposes, it is recommended to scatter small, non-sharp pebbles and river pebbles on the surface of the soil.
The mesembryanthemum does not require time-consuming self-care, moreover, excessive attention can only harm it. Basic rules to follow:
- The lack of light is critical for this succulent, its stems stretch ugly, the distance between the leaves increases, and bald spots are visible in the soil cover. In this case, you can not wait for flowering at all.
- Watering the mesembryanthemum is necessary only in a hot dry summer, the rest of the time the plant has enough of its moisture reserves.
- Two mineral top dressings per season are recommended.
- Adult bushes of crystal chamomile are not afraid of cold snaps down to 0C. But the winter cold for her can become critical even under cover. Therefore, the plant must either be planted annually, or transferred for wintering to a room with low positive temperatures.
Where to plant mesembryanthemum?
The use of succulents in landscape design is very wide. Crystal grass looks amazing framed by garden paths, on alpine hills and in rocky gardens, on infertile slopes. It can be combined with bulbous tall flowers, decorating the foreground with it. The mesembryanthemum also looks great on a mono-flower framed by a green lawn. Another planting option is outdoor hanging planters, pedestal wide flowerpots, containers for balconies and terraces.
Application in cosmetology
Mesembryanthemum has a unique ability to influence the skin at the cellular level, launching renewal processes in it and leveling the impact of negative environmental factors. This is the reason for its widespread use in cosmetology, in particular, by the Yves Rocher company, which has its own plantations in La Gacilly for growing succulents. However, it is impossible to prepare a medicinal preparation based on mesembryanthemum at home, since this requires a special technology of enzymatic cryoextraction.