Mesembryanthemum cordifolium: Baby sun rose

Family: Aizoaceae
Common name: Baby sun rose, Red Aptenia, Heart-leaf, Aptenia, Heartleaf iceplant, Heart-leaved aptenia, Heart-leaved midday flower, Aptenia cordifolia, Rock rose, Noon flower, Dew plant, Red apple, Ice plant

If you are looking for flowering plants for hanging pots or baskets in your garden, look no further than Baby sun rose plants. They look lovely with their glossy green, succulent leaves and stems; and beautiful pink flowers.

Baby sun rose plants only grow to a height of about 4 inches but can spread over 2 feet with their long, trailing stems. The stem is capable of rooting along the nodes where it touches the soil, thus helping the plant spread horizontally.

Leaves are 1-2 inches long, heart-shaped and succulent, covered with tiny hairs. The distinguishing feature of this plant is the beautiful pink flowers that cover the plant during the sunny part of the day.

As the name suggests, these plants are sun-lovers, flowering only during warm, sunny days. In fact the flowers wait for the sun to come out before opening; and close when the sun disappears. On rainy or cloudy, the flowers just refuse to open.

These plants need good direct or indirect sunlight to thrive well. But they can tolerate drought and poor soil. Since Baby sun rose plants are succulents, overwatering can be more dangerous that underwatering.

Baby sun rose flowers are deep pink or red with yellow stamens clearly visible at the center. The petals are many and thin, arranged in multiple layers. These bright flowers attract birds, bees, insects and butterflies that help in pollinating the them. Baby sun rose plants also produce small, green, apple-like fruits containing 4 tiny seeds inside.

Old parts of the plants might die off in 2-3 years, but the long trailing stems produce new plants, thus making the plant a perennial capable of surviving for many years. They form good ground cover for ledges, and look lovely in hanging pots. The trailing stems fall beautifully over the edges of pots or flowerboxes, producing beautiful flowers during summer and spring.

These plants are mostly grown as ornamental plants these days, though they were used to treat inflammations in traditional herbal medicine. Since they are low-maintenance plants which need very little care, Baby sun rose plants are very popular among gardeners. And are ideal plants for amateur gardeners. So go ahead, plant some of them in your garden and enjoy the beautiful, trailing vines.

Propagation is through seeds or stem cuttings.