Ruschia uncinata is a succulent in the Mesembryanthemaceae family that I am currently trying out in my garden. The R. uncinata, recommended for USDA Zones 10-11, may not do well in our Zone 9b, but I wanted to try it out. If it makes it this summer, I may plant more of this groundcover. This species grows to about a foot high, with a good spread. It is a winter grower, and flowers in mid spring and early summer. The flowers resemble those of the Desert Ice Plant (Drosanthemum hispidum,) but are a paler pink. There is a reason for this resemblance. The Mesembryanthemaceae family has two subfamilies. They are Mesembryanthemoideae and Ruschioideae. Both these plants are in the Ruschioideae subfamily. Oddly, I couldn’t get a decent photo of the R. uncinata—it sort of blended in with the gravel groundcover no matter what I did.
I didn’t know a thing about the Ruschia genus until earlier this year when I attended a Cactus and Succulent Society meeting and obtained a cutting of Ruschia crassa, a species that does very well in Zone 9b. Until then, I’d never heard of the genus. The R. crassa has a blue-gray color and R. uncinata is gray-green. R. crassa can be invasive in moderate climates. I’m not sure if that holds true for R. uncinata. It will be interesting to see if the heat keeps the invasive tendencies in check.
I planted this groundcover in full sun. The light and heat intensity in the next couple of months will answer the question on the hardiness of this drought tolerant plant in Zone 9b.