Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ (Heartleaf Ice Plant, ETC.)

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ after I brought it home on 5-1-19, #564-2.

Heartleaf Ice Plant, Baby Sun Rose, Dew Plant, Etc. 

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium


mes-em-bry-ANTH-ee-mum  kor-di-FOH-lee-um


Aptenia cordifolia 

ap-TEN-ee uh  kor-di-FOH-lee-uh

Synonyms of Mesembryanthemum cordifolium (4) (Updated 11-7-22 from Plants of the World Online): Aptenia cordifolia (L.f.) Schwantes, Litocarpus cordifolius (L.f.) L.Bolus, Mesembryanthemum cordifolium variegatum Hovey, Mesembryanthemum tetrasepalum Regel

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium L.f. is once again the correct and accepted name of this plant. It was named and described by Carl Linnaeus the Younger in Supplementum Plantarum Systematis Vegetabilium… in 1782.

The genus, Mesembryanthemum L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

Plants of the World Online by Kew listed 106 species in the genus (as of 11-7-22 when this page was last updated). The Mesembryanthemum genus has had species moved in and out and back again for quite some time. My contact with Kew, who is pretty high on the ladder, says he believes it is stable now. It is a member of the plant family Aizoaceae with 120 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

The synonym, Aptenia cordifolia (L.f.) Schwantes was named and described as such by Martin Heinrich Gustav Schwantes in Gartenflora in 1928.

The genus, Aptenia N.E.Brown, was named and described by Nicholas Edward Brown in Gardener’s Chronicle in 1925.

Aptenia cordifolia was moved back into the Mesembryanthemum genus in 2007, but in 2009, several authors proposed this move be reversed. Although Plants of the World Online continues to list Mesembryanthemum cordifolium as the current accepted scientific name, you can find it by both names online.  


Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ leaves on 5-1-19, #564-3.

I found A LOT of these plants at Wagler’s Greenhouse on May 1, 2019. The plants were unlabeled so I asked Mrs. Wagler what they were. She said they were an Ice Plant. When I think of an Ice plant, I think of the Delosperma cooperi. I decided to bring one home.

I took photos and did some research and found out they were Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) has it listed as Mesembryanthemum cordifolium f. variegata hort. The “hort.” stands for “horticultural use”. I don’t know where or when the variegated leaves came from, but the trend is somehow to use a cultivar name rather than an infraspecific name as in this case… SO, Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ it is even though I am not in 100% agreement.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ flower on 5-6-19, #567-1.

The flower of the plant I brought home was closed up when I took the first photos on May 1. I didn’t get a photo of the flower until May 6. Their flowers only open certain times of the day and I prefer taking mine in the late afternoon/early evening… After this one is already closed. Unlike the Delosperma I have grown before, these plant’s flowers seem stemless and just kind of stick right out of the end of the plant. As you can see from the photo, the flower isn’t exactly red.

Family: Aizoaceae
Origin: South Africa
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (30-40° F)
Size: Hmmm… Dave’s Garden says 6-12” tall and space them 18-24” apart. 🙂
Light: Sun to light shade
Soil: Well-draining mix as with most cactus and succulents. Potting soil amended with pumice or grit and perlite. It also seemed to do fine in regular potting soil…
Water: Regular watering spring through fall. Water only when leaves start to shrivel during the winter.
Propagation: Easy to propagate with stem cuttings. 

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ on 5-25-19, #576-9.

The plant I brought home was a single stem with a few branches. When I put it in a larger pot I cut a few of the stems and placed them around the pot so it would branch out evenly around the pot. That would look much better since this is a trailing plant and in a pot by itself.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ in one of the planters I arranged at a friend’s home. This photo was taken on 6-4-19, #582-30.

A friend of mine asked me to do his planters on his deck and around the house. I went back to Wagler’s Greenhouse and bought several of the Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ to use as a trailing plant. I took cuttings of several stems and put them in another planter.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ on 6-8-19, #584-2.

Hmmm… I am not going to ask what first comes to your mind when you see this photo… Nature definitely has a sense of humor. I have never seen a bud form on any plant like this before.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ on 6-8-19, #584-3.

This flower is getting ready to close when the above photo was taken at 4:48 PM.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ on 6-12-19, #587-1.

It is almost like the plant is giving birth… Well, when you live on a farm you see a lot of that.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ on 6-19-19, #592-2.

Growing and looking GREAT on June 19, 2019.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ on 6-22-19, #593-37.

Well, I must admit I think this plant and I will become great companions. I seem to take a lot of photos of it.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ on 6-22-19, #593-38.

I am not a fan of pink, but sometimes I make exceptions. I will just say the flowers are magenta.

There is a hybrid of this plant between Mesembryanthemum cordifolium (Syn. Aptenia cordifolia) and Mesembryanthemum haeckelianum (Syn. Aptenia haeckeliana) that produces red flowers. Proven Winners has a variegated selection called Mezoo™ Trailing Red. They say it is a Mesembryanthemum Hybrid and the common name is Livingstone Daisy. Hmmm…


Mesembryanthemum cordifolia ‘Variegata’ (Heartleaf Ice Plant) on 9-19-21, #832-5.

I decided in the spring of 2021 I would bring home more of these plants so I could have a planter for myself. One small pot just isn’t enough. I always put them in my friend’s planters and they always do well.

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ (Heartleaf Ice Plant) on 10-19-21, #847-9.

They were still going strong and looking great on October 19 when I took the above photo. Luckily, we didn’t have an “F” yet but we came close…

I will continue to update this page as time goes by, and I will continue to use this plant for years to come.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. Remember, the websites may refer to Mesembryanthemum cordifolium or Aptenia cordifolia


2 comments on “Mesembryanthemum cordifolium ‘Variegata’ (Heartleaf Ice Plant, ETC.)

  1. says:

    Re: Heartleaf Ice Plant. Thank you for this detailed and helpful information! I get your blog posts by email and quite enjoy them, though I don’t often have any of the plants you write about. This Mesemb I do have — I’ve had it all summer in its 2″ pot and haven’t decided what to do with it, but now I have more knowledge, and more ideas! I’m in Victoria, BC, about zone 8b, so I won’t put this in the ground at this point, but will pot it up and keep it under the eaves (or in the garage, in the event of another “arctic outflow” like we got last winter), so that I’ll have it to play with in the spring. You mention using it in planters as a trailer; I take it that means that it can handle the “regular” potting soil and more frequent waterings that annual combo planters get? That was my initial intent when I picked up this basket-stuffer, but then I hesitated because of it being a succulent — or maybe it was just procrastination : ). Your 2021 shot of the overflowing pot is marvelous and inspirational. I fear the deer will eat mine, so I’ll have to spray it with Bobbex repellant, like everything else that lives out in my yard. Keep well. Brenda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Brenda! Glad to hear from you! Did you see where it is only cold hardy in USDA Zones 10a-11? How is Victoria, BC 8b? 🙂 I put several plants in the bigger pot (planter) and they have done very well. My friend’s planters looked great the last time I saw them. They do fine with regular potting soil and regular watering during the summer. I haven’t got any experience growing them inside over the winter, but I will give it a shot. Information online (mainly Llifle) says to only water them over the winter when they are dormant if their leaves shrivel. It also says they will continue growing if they are given water. GEEZ! They say they can take temps. down to -7° C, but they are not frost tolerant… So, maybe we both have some experimenting to do. Keep me posted with your results and watch out for the deer. 🙂 I am glad you are enjoying my posts by email. Take care and thanks for the great comment!


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