Portulaca Plant Care: Growing Portulaca Flowers [Grandiflora]

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Portulaca plants or moss rose, or common purslane, are succulent groundcovers and Portulacaceae family members.

Portulaca grandiflora earned its specific species name (Grandiflora) because of its large flowers.

Assorted colors of Portulaca flowersPin

Portulaca is native to Uruguay, Argentina, and southern Brazil. In these areas, the plant grows naturally as a perennial.

Throughout the United States, it grows as an annual in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 10a. It can grow as a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 10b through 11.

The plant earns its common name, Moss Rose, because its flowers look very like wild roses.

The rambling, succulent foliage forms a dense, moss-like mat even in very challenging settings.

Other common names include:

  • Sun Rose Plant
  • Rock rose
  • Mexican rose
  • Purslane
  • Wild Portulaca
  • Rock Moss
  • Pigweed
  • 11 O’clock

Portulaca Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Portulaca grandiflora
  • Common Name(s): Moss Rose, Purslane, Sun Rose Plant, Rock rose, Mexican rose, Wild Portulaca, Rock Moss, Pigweed, 11 O’clock
  • Synonyms: Portulaca oleracea
  • Pronunciation: por-tew-LAK-uh
  • Family & Origin: Portulacaceae, native to Uruguay, Argentina, and southern Brazil
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 2-11
  • Size: 6-8 inches tall, 12” inches wide or more
  • Flowering: Blooms rose-like blooms in shades of white, yellow, orange, tangerine, pink, fuchsia, lavender, and red throughout the summer and into the fall
  • Light: Full sun but tolerates light shade
  • Humidity: Relative humidity levels between 90% to 95%
  • Temperature: 65° and 75° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Drought-tolerant, minimal watering
  • Fertilizer: Feed with balanced 20–20–20 liquid fertilizer twice a month
  • Pests & Diseases: Aphids, gnats, spider mites, slugs, snails, root rot
  • Propagation: Propagate via seeds or stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Great as a ground cover, container plant, or rock garden plant; an excellent choice for xeriscaping, rock gardens, hanging baskets, bedding plants, curbside strips

Portulaca Care

Size and Growth

This succulent annual is a fast grower that grows to be about 6″ or 8″ inches tall, and each plant has a spread of about 12” wide or more.

The foliage has reddish fleshy stems and cylindrical succulent leaves about 1″ inch long at the stem tips.

Flowering and Fragrance

Portulaca flowers are unscented, rose-like blooms in shades of white, yellow, orange, tangerine, pink, fuchsia, lavender, and red (and pastel variations) throughout the summer and into the fall.

Flowers may be single-petaled, double-petaled, or semi-double with ruffly flower petals. 

However, most varieties tend to have double-flowers that resemble small roses, hence the common name moss rose.  

The flowers typically close on rainy and cloudy days. They also stay open longer in cooler and cloudier weather.  

Light and Temperature

Perennial moss roses prefer full sun and love the heat but can tolerate light shade. It prefers a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight per day.

Because it is native to South America, the plant has a high drought tolerance and prefers a hot setting.

The ideal temperature ranges between 65° and 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

These succulents do very well when grown as an annual during the summer and grow as a perennial in semi-tropical settings.

Watering and Feeding

Once established in a garden setting, the common purslane needs minimal watering, if any.

When you grow the plant in pots or containers, you should check the soil occasionally to determine your watering schedule.

Wait until the top layer of soil is dry, and then water thoroughly at the base of the plant or from the bottom.

Moreover, it prefers relative humidity levels between 90% to 95%.

Fertilize with general-purpose high-nitrogen fertilizer when first sowing seeds or planting seedlings. The food helps get plants a good start.

When plants start to bloom, use a fertilizer high in phosphorus to encourage more blossoms.

You should not need to fertilize more than these two times throughout these plants’ growing seasons.

If your plants need more frequent fertilizing, use a balanced 20–20–20 liquid fertilizer, and apply it no more than twice a month.

Another option is to apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in the middle of the growing season to promote new growth.

Be sure to water immediately after applying any fertilizer.

Soil and Transplanting

Portulaca plants grow easily in any well-draining poor to average soil. To improve drainage, you can add soil amendments, including perlite, compost, and peat moss.

When transplanting, keep the soil evenly moist until the plant sets its roots and begins to grow.

Taper off and establish a light watering schedule as described above.

Grooming and Maintenance

While your seedlings are still small, pinch them back to encourage bushier growth. Pinch off the first blossoms to encourage more flowers.

Throughout the growth, season trim and pinch back as you wish to maintain the plant shape. Deadhead the flowers promptly to encourage more blooms.

If expecting frost, cover plants to avoid losing them.

Removing spent blooms will also prevent self-seeding if grown outside.

How To Propagate Portulaca Plants?

Portulaca seeds can be sown directly into the spring garden after the last frost. Start seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the predicted last frost.

Seedlings can be set out following the last frost.

In warmer climates, your plants may reseed themselves and appear on their own as annuals year after year.

Growing Portulaca From Cuttings

Starting plants is very easy. Trim off straggly stems and lay them on top of a very slightly damp, well-draining potting mix.

Use a succulent or cactus mix or a homemade mixture using regular potting soil and coarse sand.

Allow the soil to become almost dry before very lightly watering it again. Within a week to 10 days, cuttings will put out roots and start growing within a month.

Portulaca Plants Pest or Diseases

When kept in a well-ventilated setting with well-draining soil and plenty of sun, Purslane has few, if any, problems. If the plant is kept too wet or otherwise suffers, it may attract aphids.

Overwatering and poorly drained soils cause crown and root rot. Be sure to use sharply draining soil.

Planting Portulaca plants in a slightly elevated bed can improve drainage and help prevent problems with fungus.

If you experience insect problems, gnats, spider mites, and aphids, use an insect repellent or insecticide as needed.

Encourage predator insects such as lacewings, ladybugs, and the like to help keep these pests under control.

Because these rambling plants are very low-growing, slugs and snails can be problematic. This is especially true if you tend to overwater.

Dry, well-drained soil and proper ventilation will discourage moisture-loving slugs and snails.

If you have a problem with them, pick them off by hand and use slug and snail bait or natural means of control.

Suggested Portulaca Rose Uses

Portulaca is an excellent choice for xeriscaping, rock gardens, hanging baskets, bedding plants, curbside strips, and other dry, hot areas where a ground cover is desired.

These plants make a beautiful border around the flower garden and are popular for planters, rock walls, parks, and other bare spots in public settings.

It can also be grown in containers and kept indoors through the winter. It also does nicely as a houseplant year-round and is attractive in hanging baskets.

Portulaca Rose also helps attract beneficial insects and pollinators like butterflies and bees.

This drought-tolerant succulent enjoys full sun and relatively dry soil. It’s also considered deer-resistant.

It is an excellent low-maintenance choice as a groundcover, to naturalize in semi-tropical areas, and to grow as an annual in any location.

Is Portulaca Considered Toxic or Poisonous To People, Kids, Pets?

According to the American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals, Portulaca olearata (a cousin variety of Portulaca grandiflora) is highly toxic.

The plants are very similar in appearance. Both are intended to be ornamental, not edible, so err on the side of caution and keep both out of reach of children, pets, and livestock. [source]

Is Portulaca Moss Considered Invasive?

Although this lively succulent may be reseed in a conducive environment, it is not robust enough to become invasive.

Recommended Reading

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