Portulaca: Fixing the Reputation

Authored by Kristelle Falk, Greenhouse Sales Manager
Jun 9th, 2020
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Let’s talk Portulaca. Now I know what you are thinking, “Isn’t that a weed?” or “Don’t those take over entire gardens?” And you would be right, if they were the same plant. Portulaca come with a bad reputation since they are so often compared to their awful cousin, Portulaca the weed. The portulaca I am talking about is a tamed portulaca, also called Moss Rose, a far less aggressive plant with beautiful blooms. This portulaca is an annual, and amazing for baskets and containers. Its growth structure is a low trailing ground cover, and is very easy to control. So now that we have established that this portulaca won’t take over your entire yard, what are the best features about it? Why am I convinced that everyone needs to love these plants? Well, allow me to get into the details.

Let’s start off with the most important feature to everyone: the flowers. Portulaca blooms in all kinds of colour; from vibrant shades of pink, red, orange and yellow, as well as a few striped flowers of yellow and pink and orange. Just stunning! Once a portulaca gets going the branches will be covered in colourful blooms that open and close with the rising and setting of the sun. This sounds kind of romantic actually. 

Another feature that is very important and enticing is the care. Portulaca is perfect for that hot spot where everything seems to fry and die. They love it hot and dry, which means that care is minimal! Portulaca make it very obvious when they are stressed making it easy to cater to their needs. Their leaves seem to lie down on their stems and almost seem to deflate rather than stand off and look full. This means it’s time to check the soil. If the soil is dry and crispy up to three inches down, your plant will need water. But if the soil is damp and sticky three inches down you need to let your portulaca dry out, as they do not like being wet!

Portulaca are native to South America, and have been a favourite flower bed plant since the 1700’s! That’s when you know a plant is good. Think about is, gardeners have been using portulaca for over 300 years! After the list above, it starts to make sense why people have liked them so much.

All in all portulaca are the perfect plant for anyone, from the expert gardener to those with a lacking a green thumb. Portulacas are gorgeous, tough, and user friendly plants that have stood up to the test of time and proving against all odds that it is far superior to its weedy counterpart that it is so often compared to.

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