Baby Sun Rose

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Baby Sun Rose, Aptenia cordifolia

Family: Aizoaceae

Also known as: Heartleaf Ice Plant, Heart and Flower, Dew Plant, Red Apple Aptenia,  Red Aptenia or Creeping Charlie

This succulent plant is correctly called a Sun Rose as its flowers are solar controlled – they only blossom when Sol shines! 

Its botanical name stems from the Greek word, aptenos meaning “wingless,” referring to its wingless seed capsules; while cordi, in Latin, means heart and folia means leaf.  It’s native to the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

If you are seeking a superlative hanging basket or window box plant this is it.  Or, applied on a broader scope as a groundcover for smaller areas, or to be placed among rock garden plants under blistering sun, than look no further!  This easy-care plant actually thrives in hot, dry, sunny areas and can even be used as a beachside planting.  It spreads its pretty self via creeping, mat forming, stems that can reach to five feet (1.52 meters) in length.

Its leaves are trailing to mounding – up to twelve inches (30.48 cm) depth.  Its flowers look like miniature asters and are a favorite of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.  They not only close up at night but will remain closed on cloudy days – We sorta’ relate to that

In moist soils, the Baby Sun Rose will grow so rapidly as to reach the point of overwhelming nearby vegetation.  Accordingly, though introduced to the State as a friendly, horticultural plant, the California Invasive Plant Council now says that Aptenia cordifolia is invasive to that State, has listed it as bad and placed it on a “weed alert.”  You know our overly-zealous west coast pals . . . . they mean well!

Preferring dry to medium, well-drained, sandy loam with full sun, this evergreen can successfully grow in dry soils but, therein, tends to remain compact.  So what’s that tell us?  Correct! They’ll grow more aggressively in moist soils – but allow the soil to fully dry before watering again. (They are, however, like us and have an expiration point.)  They last two to three years and will require replacement.

As to propagation, plant division, tip cuttings or seed are best. Container plants – with very good drainage – also need full sun.  While Baby Sun Rose can grow in nutrient-poor conditions, it will thank you profusely if you give it two or three light fertilizations every year with ammonium phosphate.

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Its magenta-pink, purple to red button-like flowers are sun lovers and attract bees.

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These crunchy leaves are, purportedly, edible and can be added to a salad.

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Ana and our potted Baby Sun Rose.