Portulaca, also known as Purslane or Moss Rose, is an annual plant known for its bright and colorful blooms. It is commonly used as a colorful ground cover or a trailing plant in hanging baskets and containers. Portulaca can thrive in hot and dry conditions, making them an excellent choice for drought-tolerant gardens.
The plant’s overall size can vary, typically reaching a height of 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) and spreading up to 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters) wide. Its compact nature and trailing habit lend themselves well to creating eye-catching displays.
Leaves and Flowers
Portulaca showcases petite, succulent leaves that are cylindrical or needle-like, creating a delightful texture. These leaves often form dense, low-growing mats or trailing vines, making Portulaca an excellent choice for ground cover or cascading from hanging baskets.
The plant starts to bloom in mid to late summer, and the flowers will continue to bloom until the first frost. The flowers are small and cup-shaped and bloom in shades of pink, red, orange, yellow, white, and various bi-color combinations. The flowers are typically about an inch in diameter and have a delicate, papery texture. Portulaca flowers are unique because they open during the day and close at night, earning them the common name “moss rose.” Deadheading or removing spent flowers can encourage more blooms and help maintain a tidy appearance.
Portulaca prefers well-draining soil and full sunlight. The seeds should be sown in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. Water the Portulaca sparingly, as it is a drought-tolerant plant. It is best to water Portulaca in the morning to allow the foliage to dry out during the day, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Fertilizer is not typically necessary for Portulaca, as it prefers poor to moderately fertile soil. However, a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer can be applied sparingly every few weeks during the growing season to promote healthy growth and flowering.