Delosperma echinatum, or Pickle Cactus, is native to South Africa. It has small pickle-shaped leaves with bristly hairs on thin wiry stems. Leaves reach about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and are light green. It has a more upright habit than most Delospermas, often reaching 18 inches (45 cm) when grown outside in zone 7. In containers or baskets, it will reach about 1 foot (30 cm) in height. The most notable features are the water vesicles that cover the leaves. Aizoaceae are frequently succulents, but Delosperma is definitely no cactus (not Cactaceae).
Blooming Time: In the greenhouse, the small white flowers appear at the tips of stems in spring. Individual flowers are ¾ of an inch (2 cm) across.
Culture: Delosperma echinatum need full sun to light shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts sand to 1 part loam to 1 part peat moss. The soil mixture should be slightly acidic, with a pH of 6.5 to 6.0. During the growing season, plants should be allowed to dry in-between waterings. They should be fertilized only once during this period with a very dilute fertilizer. We usually dilute the fertilizer to ¼ the recommended rate. During the winter months, it is very easy to overwater them. Water should be restricted to just enough to keep the leaves from shriveling at this time. Winter temperatures should be dropped to 45 to 50° F. When grown outside in zone 7, it should be treated as an annual.
Propagation: Delosperma echinatum is easily propagated from stem cutting or by seed. Seed readily germinate at 58 to 65° F (12 to 18° C).
Delosperma echinatum was featured as Plant of the Week May 2-8, 2003.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.