Aptenia haeckeliana is a low growing drought resistant groundcover native to South Africa. When I first saw this plant, I was sure it was a hybrid form of Aptenia cordifolia. Turns out I was wrong. This delightful plant has the same attributes as A. cordifolia, but with yellow flowers. It is fairly fast growing, reaching up to 2 feet (0.6 m) across in a single season. The succulent leaves are up to 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) long and elliptical in shape. Stems are 4 sided, much like a mint stem. It is a great ground cover and when planted with A. cordifolia it makes a stunning show of bright yellow and red flowers. Also, it makes great hanging baskets for full sun. Plants are hardy in the landscape in USDA zone 10-11.
Blooming: Aptenia haeckeliana flowers are greenish-white, small, solitary and inconspicuous. Flowers are followed by a fruit of variable shape to 4 inches (10 cm) across with a tough rusty colored skin. The fruit is edible and sweet.
Culture: Aptenia haeckeliana grows best in full sun to light shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts sand and 1 part loam. Plants are well watered and allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again. We fertilize them once a month with a water soluble fertilizer diluted to 1/4 the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, we follow the same regime as any other time. If grown in full sun they will flower all winter long indoors.
Propagation: Aptenia haeckeliana is propagated by cuttings and from seed when available.
Aptenia haeckeliana was featured as Plant of the Week November 19-December 2, 2010.
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.