Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Baby Sunrose, Heartleaf Ice Plant
Aptenia 'Red Apple'

Family: Aizoaceae (ay-zoh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Aptenia (ap-TEN-ee-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Red Apple
Additional cultivar information: (Aptenia cordifolia x Aptenia haeckeliana)

30 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Cactus and Succulents

under 6 in. (15 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is fire-retardant

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 30 photos.
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16 positives
4 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive kassarooni On Feb 7, 2015, kassarooni from Marrero, LA wrote:

Looking to purchase this plant. Unable to find in Louisiana.
Unable to ship from California to my area. Any ideas on where to get this plant locally or otherwise??

Positive lgcalifornia On Jul 19, 2013, lgcalifornia from Santa Ana, CA wrote:

Let's clear something up - the invasive version of ice plant, aka "sea fig" or Carpobrotus edulis is the invasive species that grows along the California coast. The C. edulis ice plant actually produces fruit which is made into a jam in its native country of South Africa. The succulent leaves look like fingers and they are not heart shaped. C. edulis is famous for causing major issues on the coast of California.

The Baby sunrose or Heartleaf ice plant, "Aptenia cordifolia" is not invasive. There is much misinformation regarding ice plants in general due to the invasive aspects of C. edulis, but not all ice plants are bad. The difference between ice plants C. edulis and A. cordifolia are akin to the difference between the highly invasive Creeping Charlie and a mint plant (both in the mint family).

It must also be noted that A. "Red Apple" is a hybrid cross of A. cordifolia and A. (Platythyra) haeckeliana, and Red Apple can become invasive whereas true A. cordifolia does not. True A. cordifolia has magenta/purple flowers and is not invasive. If you want to grow this, make sure this is the case, especially if you live near wild lands! Do not plant the Red Apple hybrid if you are concerned about invasive qualities and make sure it is the true purple A. cordifolia variety.

Additionally, we have A. cordifolia (purple flowers) growing at my housing complex here in California where we have many large gardens throughout the grounds. A. cordifolia grows as ground cover along with English ivy, and it does not become invasive even with the sprinklers going off every night to water every square inch of this place.

In my experience, this plant is easy to grow (I have it in a container) and requires little water in the hot southern California landscape without becoming invasive. People even plant in their lawns instead of grass so they don't have to waste precious water on grass, but it doesn't take over the landscape like Creeping Charlie does. It does just fine on our balcony.

Positive AliceG On Jan 6, 2013, AliceG wrote:

Most people don't know that Baby Sun Rose is actually edible and can be used in salads. The plant was also used in traditional Zulu medicine. You can read more about its edible and medicinal uses here:

Positive BevL On Aug 31, 2012, BevL from Tempe, AZ wrote:

My plants are all in pots. Started off with one, then as I pinched off tips to encourage the plant to thicken up I just pushed the tips into new pots and they are all rooting. One problem I have is that although my earlier plants are now large and lush green, none are flowering. They get what looks like a little flowering bud..but it never opens into a flower. Has anyone had this problem? I get morning sun (about 5 hours) and then (living in Phoenix AZ area) have very bright light for the rest of the day. Any ideas would be appreciated. I'm having the same problem with Calibrachoa Hybrid (Strawberry Punch Superbells) which gets about an hour more sun a day.

Positive johnthelandlord On Aug 19, 2012, johnthelandlord from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

This is absolutely the BEST ground cover solution for areas of hot sun, poor soil and limited watering. A tenant had planted some as an experiment to the horrible grass situation. For years, with no sprinklers, dogs and gardeners only watering a little once in a while the lawn situation was horrible. It was such a success, that I had the gardeners plant it in all the other areas. Within about a year and a half, it looks like an amazing green carpet. It even draped over the 5ft retaining wall, so much that it looks like a hedge. With little water needed, no fertilization ( oh that nasty manure smell), dog pee resistant and no mowing what more could somebody ask for?

Neutral misfit17 On Aug 13, 2012, misfit17 from San Diego, CA wrote:

I have a question for those with this, since i've just transplanted it and had someone tell me that it was responsible for the stains on my t-shirt. does it stain? i'm been googling and searching and can't find confirmation, but i've had mystery stains on my t shirt two of the last 3 mornings out watering this to get it started. any input would be appreciated, particularly since we're contemplating putting it in an area that the dogs will walk on regularly. thanks.

Positive cessilie On Jun 18, 2012, cessilie from Poway, CA wrote:

we have a large amount of this growing on a hill in our backyard and i love it! the only problem is, there are areas that tend to turn yellow or brown. this part of the yard gets a lot of sun so i water it with a hose a few times a week; is this enough? does anyone know how often i should water this stuff? am i drowning it or not watering enough? is there some sort of fertilizer or anything i can use to make it more green?

Positive village1diot On Mar 20, 2012, village1diot from Vacaville, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have been growing this for 3 years now and it is not growing anywhere I don't want it to. It does grow vigorously, but it doesn't take root easily, so all you have to do is cut it back. It is not invasive, just vigorous.

IMO it's the best ground cover there is, for warmer climates. It needs my attention once a year to cut it back. The rest of the year, I just enjoy it. It attracts tons of bees, stays green, and flowers all year.

About the only negative I can think of is that you can not walk on it, at all. It crushes very easy.

Neutral zinniasgirls On Sep 29, 2011, zinniasgirls wrote:

I have been searching for a drought tolerant ground cover for a large area of poor soil and I think i finally found it! I am so excited about baby sunrose. my neighbore gave me a bunch of clippings from her garden and i started them in the dirt yesterday - i really hope they grow, they are in shade. thanks everyone for the info.

Positive diaph On Jul 23, 2011, diaph from Culver City, CA wrote:

I'm in Los Angeles area, and have only had Aptenia since ca. january. by accident, recently found a great use for those yanked-out overgrowths.

pulled out a bunch of it, and stuck it in a pail of water in the sun, planning to plant the cuttings around the garden. after about a week, or maybe 2, with some heat, the pail started smelling unbelievably rotten. so disgusting, i couldn't get the smell off my fingers.

which gave me an idea: like stinky fish emulsion, it must be full of fantastic decomposing bacteria and nutrients for plants. used the rotten green fluid to fertilize a passion flower vine, snake plant, bougainvillea, philadendron, tomatoes, honeydew melons--everything LOVES the stuff. a truly satisfying way of creating one's own organic fertilizer.

and in S. Africa, Aptenia has medicinal use as an anti-inflammatory. just a great plant!

Positive DisHammerhand On Jun 24, 2009, DisHammerhand from Fontana, CA wrote:

When I bought my house 12 years ago I planted this along my front fence near an arborvitae hedge. Since then it has gradually climbed the chain-link fence and covered the ground between the curb and fence. (I have no sidewalk). It has made the front of my property look very neat and keeps the weeds down. How I wish I had planted it along the north side of my corner lot. I battle weeds constantly over there.

Positive A_Caruso On Jun 12, 2009, A_Caruso from Lockhart, TX wrote:

I have this growing in a flower garden that is 100' long. I love it!! It is a fast grower, frost hardy, drought tolerant and looks beautiful all year round. Easy to take care, just cut it back. IT IS NOT INVASIVE------IF YOU DON'T WANT IT PULL IT UP AND THROW IT OUT!!!

Positive igeethecat On Oct 4, 2008, igeethecat from Fresno, CA wrote:

This is not the same plant that grows along California coast and it is NOT INVASIVE at all. It does well on the trellis or as a ground cover, grows fast, looks good and does not require much attention.

Positive htop On Jun 3, 2007, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have never ad a problem removing it from where I don't want it however, maybe its just because of the climate here. It does grow profusely, but that's what I want where I have it planted. I have found that comes up easily when pulled. I lop it off when it is spreading too far and have it growing over the top of mulch in some areas. It loves the heat and blooms continuously. It does not freeze unless it is a really hard freeze for sustained hours. Maybe I ahve a different plant than the ones that other people have.

Negative julia_d On Jun 5, 2006, julia_d from San Francisco, CA wrote:

If this plant acts the same as the ice plant that grows all along California's coast, you should know that not only is it invasive (crowds out native dune plants) but it also puts a lot of salt into the soil. I'd think very carefully before putting this plant anywhere.

Positive jaxpatart On Aug 31, 2005, jaxpatart from Jacksonville, FL wrote:

We found this delightful little plant thriving in many corners of Egypt this summer: from the mountains of Sinai to the delta gardens of Alexandria and everywhere in between. I am planning to try some in my garden in Jax - can't be any more invasive than a whole lot of other plants that we have to pull and pull after such a summer of heat and rain!

Neutral c_semerad On Jul 22, 2005, c_semerad from Queen Creek, AZ wrote:

Am still trying to figure out where it grows best, and what it's water needs are. I have it in full sun now, and some is growing better than others. I have one patch on drip, and one I hand water. Both are doing about the same. Not as prolific yet as people have said; just trying to keep it alive. Hopefully it will do better once the heat of the summer has passed. I have one in a half gallon plastic container that I have yet to transplant. It has been sitting there for 2-3 weeks, and looks better than the ones I have put in the ground.

Negative FutureRockStar On Jul 9, 2005, FutureRockStar from Newbury Park, CA wrote:

this plant grows on a hill on my aunts property. for years she has been trying to get rid of it, but with no success. this plant is a pain to get rid of!!!

if any one knows how to get rid of it, please e-mail me at:

Positive jh_sanders On Mar 23, 2004, jh_sanders from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

We love this plant! It grows like crazy, so it might be called invasive, but it's easy to clip away and isn't hard to pull out. It propogates very easily from clippings, and once established hardly needs any water. It's a great plant for filling in a large area and I've been able to fill in several bedsfrom one 4-inch pot . It's done well in both shade and sun, and easily recovered from being frozen.

Neutral Kelli On Apr 22, 2003, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I find it kind of blah, but "familiarity breeds contempt", they say.

Positive Zanymuse On Apr 22, 2003, Zanymuse from Scotia, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Having been warned it could be invasive, I grew this in a pot and it did wonderfully. It looked great trailing from a hanging basket and stayed looking full when pinched back to incourage branching out.

Positive jkom51 On Sep 9, 2002, jkom51 from Oakland, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This iceplant relative is a terrific groundcover IF you are able to keep it confined; e.g., urban areas. It is an extremely aggressive grower and will overrun native species so do NOT plant this if you are near a park, wildland area, etc. 6-8" H, length infinite if you water it. Color is very bright clear green, unusual in a succulent-type plant. Without water it gets an amber or reddish tone. Flowers are bright red, like little ox-eye daisies that form at the base of each pair of leaves. Bees absolutely love it. Also excellent as a trailing plant over walls, or in planters. I keep it in-bounds by occasionally ripping off runners or even yanking out entire plants. Tough plant; even a single leaf left will resprout. It loves No. Cal. weather and a single flat will cover an entire city lot in one year with a weekly watering.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona (2 reports)
Scottsdale, Arizona
Tempe, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona (2 reports)
Yuma, Arizona
August, California
Banning, California
Beale Afb, California
Canoga Park, California
Carlotta, California
Clayton, California
Culver City, California
Fairfield, California
Fontana, California
Fremont, California
Fresno, California
Hayward, California
Los Angeles, California
Menifee, California
Merced, California
Monterey, California
Monterey Park, California
Murrieta, California
Newbury Park, California
Oakhurst, California
Oceanside, California
Ontario, California
Poway, California
Sacramento, California
San Diego, California
Santa Ana, California
Stockton, California
Vacaville, California
Valley Village, California
Ellendale, Delaware
Brandon, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Key West, Florida
Miami, Florida
Odessa, Florida
Seminole, Florida
Tampa, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Franklin, Indiana
Zwolle, Louisiana
Mathiston, Mississippi
Henderson, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada (3 reports)
North Las Vegas, Nevada
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
El Paso, Texas (2 reports)
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas
Humble, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Lockhart, Texas
Lubbock, Texas
Lufkin, Texas
Plano, Texas
Portland, Texas
San Angelo, Texas (2 reports)
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Victoria, Texas

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