Garden Basics 25L Organic Compost
Name: round baby pigface, round-leaf pigface, noon-flower (Disphyma crassifolium ssp. Clavellatum).
Plant type: perennial succulent.
Climate: cool and warm temperate, semi-arid to arid.
Position: full sun to part shade.
Foliage: small, fleshy green leaves that are often tinged red-yellow in hot, dry conditions.
Flowering and fruiting: vibrant pink-purple blooms appear at various times of the year, followed by red-brown fruit capsules that dry as they age.
Feeding: feed occasionally with a complete organic fertiliser.
Watering: water regularly until established.
Round baby pigface is an attractive spreading ground cover that grows 10–30cm tall and 1m wide. Its small, cylindrical and fleshy leaves appear in clusters along a creeping horizontal stem that roots easily at the nodes, allowing it to spread quickly . Bright pink-purple flowers appear at various times during the year, normally from spring to summer, but it may spot flower in autumn and winter. The fruits are red-brown capsules that split open at the top when ripe. All parts of the plant are edible, but the leaves are highly coveted for their fleshy texture and salty flavour.
This succulent ground cover tolerates salt, frost and drought. It’s also adaptable to a wide range of soil types, provided they are well-drained.
This ground cover is ideal for mass planting garden beds, trailing over retaining walls or hanging baskets, or as a soil stabiliser on sloping sites. It grows into an extensive mat, especially when planted at short intervals and will quickly colonise a space. Use the fleshy, salty leaves in stir-fries, to flavour fish or add a juicy crunch to salads. It’s also great pickled.
Choose a spot in full sun or part shade with well-drained soil. While round baby pigface grows in poor soils in its natural environment, it will benefit from handfuls of organic matter added to the soil prior to planting. Dig a hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the existing root ball. Remove the plant from its pot, loosen the root ball and place in the centre of the planting hole. Backfill, firm the soil and water in well. If planting over a large area, space plants at 30cm intervals to help form a dense ground cover.
Round baby pigface is a hardy succulent that needs little care once established. Take care not to overwater, especially if growing in heavier soils.
Harvest the succulent leaves year-round as needed.
Water regularly at first. Once established, it is drought-hardy and can withstand long periods of extended dry conditions. The leaves may turn red and/or yellow but will recover when given a deep watering. To keep it looking healthy, water occasionally throughout summer.
Feeding isn’t necessary, but the application of a complete organic fertiliser a couple of times a year will help maximise growth and keep plants healthy.
Cut back as needed to control the growth.
This plant is fairly pest and disease free, but it may be attacked by cottony cushion scale. Use a horticultural oil, but take care when applying as oil can burn the foliage.
Division is one of the easiest ways to propagate round baby pigface. Take a sharp spade to a large plant, lift and divide as needed.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
Old man saltbush: an attractive, drought-hardy native shrub with edible salty foliage.
Chamelaucium ‘Jambinu Zest’: a Geraldton wax with lemon-flavoured leaves and flowers.
Queensland Davidson’s plum: a slender tree with edible blue-black plum-like fruit that form on the trunk.
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Photo credit: Alamy Stock Photo, Getty Images and tuckerbush.com.au