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Complete Guide to Portulaca Plants: How to Plant & Care for “Portulaca grandiflora”

Read our complete guide to Portulaca Plants for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting and caring for "Portulaca grandiflora"
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Portulaca plants are part of the Portulacaceae genus, with just under a hundred species identified. The most common type of portulaca plant is the Portulaca grandiflora. Also known as the “moss rose,” the portulaca plant is a good choice for bedding plants, and most nurseries across the United States will carry them in stock during the springtime.

The portulaca plant is a very hardy species, and they’ll look as good in the fall as they do in the spring. This plant produces succulent foliage, displaying the drought-tolerance of the portulaca. They make ideal plants for flowerbeds in drier regions of the United States, such as Southern California.

Most varieties tend to have double-flowers that give them the appearance of small roses, thus earning them the moniker of the moss rose. The flowers come in an array of spectacular colors, including hot pink, orange, yellow, and red. Some varieties also come in a cream-white or variegated color arrangement.

Portulaca adds beautiful colors
Portulaca adds beautiful colors

The plants tend to grow up to 8-inches tall, and they may spread as wide as 2-feet in diameter when mature. The spreading nature of the plant makes them a great choice for ground cover in flowerbeds.

The portulaca plant does well in flowerbeds or containers, and they like growing in hanging baskets on the patio as well. These plants don’t have any concerns with winds or high temperatures, and they do well in rockeries that receive less water. Plant them next to cacti to bring some color into the garden during the summertime.

What are the Light Requirements for Portulaca Plants?

  • When planting your portulacas, we suggest you select a flowerbed that receives full sunlight throughout the day.
  • The more sun these plants get, the harder they flower. If you plant in a shady flowerbed, your portulacas won’t put the flowers on display. Instead, they pout and close the flowerheads.
  • Portulaca plants are so picky about the sun that they often refuse to open on cloudy or overcast days.
  • The plants require a minimum of 6 to 8-hours of sun each day,

What are the Soil Requirements for Portulaca Plants?

  • Plant your portulacas in a flowerbed that has a loose, loamy, and airy soil that offers excellent drainage. The plants prefer sandy and rocky soils over clay types, and it’s better to plant in pots if your flowerbeds don’t provide these growing conditions.
  • When planting in pots, we recommend you use a good-quality potting mix. You can make amendments to the soil with peat moss and perlite to improve the drainage—Line the bottom of the pot with a layer of small stones, and a drainage gauze. Always ensure you’re using a container with adequate drainage holes.
  • Air pots are also an attractive option for potting in outdoor areas. These pots have materials siding that increases airflow to the roots of the portulaca. More airflow means that the soil drains better, and the roots get to breathe.
  • Overwatering your plants will waterlog the soil, resulting in the onset of root rot. It’s for this reason that planting in a well-draining soil is vital to the health of your portulaca.

Moss Rose Plant Seed Mix – 5000 Seeds

How Do I Water Portulaca Plants?

As mentioned, overwatering your portulacas is not a good idea. However, your flowers still need plenty of water to grow up strong and healthy. Watering is essential to help the plants establish a root system. The healthier the plant’s roots, the more it will blossom in the summertime.

Portulacas are reasonably drought-resistant, but its best to keep them in moist soil if you want them to flower properly. A drip irrigation system is ideal for these plants, providing them with all the water they need to thrive in the garden.

What are the Humidity and Temperature Requirements for Portulaca Plants?

Portulaca plants are native to the highlands of Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. The moss rose is no stranger to hot and dry conditions, and it can tolerate the cold as well. The plant’s nature to spread makes it a popular choice for xeriscaping.

You don’t have to worry about humidity, and if you go away on a family vacation, the plants won’t die if they don’t receive water.

If you live in a region of the United States that receives rainfall throughout the season, you might not need to water these plants at all. The low-maintenance requirements of the portulaca make it a favorite choice for corporate landscaping projects.

How Do I Fertilize Portulaca Plants?

Plant your portulacas in a good-quality soil mix. Following this rule ensures that your plants have all the nutrients they need to grow. A good soil mix means that you won’t need much fertilizer during the growing season.

However, for those gardeners that feel their plants could use a boost, you can fertilize them in the early spring to boost the initial growth. Feed again in the mid-summer to prepare the plant with all the nutrients it needs for the dormancy period.

Miracle-Gro Pour & Feed Plant Food is Perfect

A liquid, all-purpose fertilizer is a good choice, and you can dilute it to half the recommended strength before application. Overwatering and over-fertilizing your plants may cause the leaves to burn and the flowers to wilt.

How Do I Prune Portulaca Plants?

Portulaca plants bloom throughout the growing season. However, most varieties start to look a bit leggy in the midsummer months. At this stage, you can cut them back, and then add the second round of fertilizer to help them recover from the pruning stress.

Follow the same pruning strategy at the end of the growing season, but don’t add the fertilizer. Stop feeding and watering the plant over the winter. During the dormancy period, the plant recovers and prepares itself for the following spring.

To bring back your portulaca in the springtime, simply start watering again. Start slowly and then increase the amount you water each week until the start of the summer.

Can I Grow Portulaca Plants from Seeds?

Portulaca plants are readily available from nurseries at an affordable price. However, some advanced gardeners might want to try their hand at growing them from seed. While growing from seed is challenging, it’s also a rewarding experience for the gardener.

When growing portulaca from seed, the gardener must take care not to sow too many seeds in the same nursery container. Unfortunately, it’s easy to make this mistake, as the seeds are as small as mustard flakes and challenging to move around in the soil.

Portulaca”Double Mix” (Moss Rose) Pack of 1,000 Seeds, From Amazon

Start your portulaca seeds indoors at least eight weeks before the beginning of the spring. The seeds take around 10 to 14-days to germinate and require temperatures of between 75 to 85F for successful germination.

After the seeds germinate and start to grow a root system, plant them in pots at around the 2-week mark. Keep the plants warm, and mist the soil with water one a day for moisture.

Plant your seedlings in pots or flowerbeds outdoors after the last frosts fall on the ground. Check your local listings for frost dates in your area.

What are the Pests and Diseases Affecting Portulaca Plants?

As with any other plants in the flowerbed, portulacas are susceptible to certain pests and diseases. In the springtime, be on the lookout for aphids. Ants bring them to your plants, and they like to infest the stems. Aphids suck to moisture out of the plants, and if they attach to the growing tips, they can kill the plant.

If rainy conditions persist for a few days, check your garden when the rain stops. Remove any slugs and snails that come out to feast on your portulacas. Prolonged rainy and cold periods of the year may also result in the onset of disease of your plants.

White powdery mildew is a common problem in damp areas. It takes the appearance of a light off-white to gray-colored powder on the petals and leaves of the portulaca.

Diatomaceous earth is an excellent organic fungal-killing amendment. Shake it out around the plants, and it will kill off the WPM. Diatomaceous earth also acts as a natural pest deterrent, keeping bugs away from your plants.

What are the Common Varieties Portulaca Plants?

There are dozens of varieties of portulaca available. The flowers come in plenty of colors, providing the gardener with plenty of variety in their landscaping requirements. The moss rose also makes for an excellent companion plant in flowerbeds, and it’s a great ground cover option as well.

These plants are an excellent choice for gardens throughout southwester California, and the southern states. They do well in dry and rainy climates, as long as they get enough sun. Use the portulaca to fill in the gaps around your flowerbeds and pathways in the garden.

Some of the more popular varieties of the moss rose, or portulaca include the following

  • The Duet series – Produces beautiful bi-color flowers in red and yellow or rose and yellow
  • The Afternoon Delight – Keeps its blooms open into the early evening hours.
  • The Margarita series – An All-American selections winner
  • The Happy Hour – Early blooming and suitable for regions with fewer sunlight hours
  • The Sundance – Produces large flowers, on upright stems that are uncommon to any other variety

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Hollie Carter

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

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