Portulaca grandiflora must be the cheeriest looking plant in the whole garden when it flowers. Its myriad of bright reds, yellows, whites, oranges, and every colour in between can transform a desolate looking garden bed overnight.
We were at a camp on the weekend and the place we stayed at had a bed of succulents including some gorgeous orange Portulaca. Against the foliage backdrop of these other succulents, it stood out a mile and made the garden bed quite spectacular.
Common Portulaca Varieties
There are between 40 -100 different species of Portulaca (or purslane) with the two most recognised species are Portulaca grandiflora (moss rose purslane) or Portulaca oleracea (common purslane or pigweed).
Common purslane is edible and can be steamed or boiled and it has a texture similar to cooked okra. Both of these species are fairly common and available in most nurseries.
Moss rose is the most common Portulaca you may find, especially in nurseries. A native plant to Brazil they are mainly grown as annuals and grow great as a groundcover. They will usually only grow to about 15-20 cm (6-9 in) high.
If you want to grow Portulaca you may need to check with your local plant authority as Portulaca oleracea has been classified in some areas as a noxious weed. Due to its easy propagation, it can take over areas quite quickly and be hard to eradicate.
However, while Portulaca is kept contained within a garden (in areas that allow it) it will grow wonderfully.
How to Propagate Portulaca
Portulaca can be propagated two ways. Firstly, by seed that can either be collected from plants that are already growing or by purchasing through catalogues or nurseries. Portulaca can also be grown very easily by taking cuttings.
To do this, cut off a small stalk that is not flowering or about to flower and place it in the ground. It couldn’t be any easier, could it?
The Best Use of Portulaca
As Portulaca is a low growing plant it’s best use is as a groundcover in front of other foliage type plants, especially succulents. They don’t require a lot of water and have no real pest problems so they would work really well in a xeriscape or dry garden setting.