Delosperma congestum - plant of the month May 2012
The genus Delosperma is a member of the family Aizoaceae, with around 130 species of succulent shrubs, perennials and biennials coming from South Africa and Madagascar. Once included in the genus Mesembryanthemum, with obvious similarities, Delosperma congestum has the somewhat annoying habit of only opening its flowers when the sun shines - an obvious adaption which protects the sexual parts from frosts, heavy night dew and preditors but still allows the attraction of pollinating insects.
Native to dry areas in South Africa and surprisingly hardy provided they are grown in very well-drained soil. They have long lasting flowers over succulent evergreen leaves, which change to a reddish maroon colour during winter. Full sun and very good drainage are essential to keeping this plant in good health and at its peak of flowering. Does well in a trough or on a scree/crevice bed outside or as a pot plant in an unheated alpine house.