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How to Grow and Care for Portulaca

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Portulaca is a genus of the flowering plant family Portulacaceae, comprising about 40-100 species found in the tropics and warm temperate regions. They are also known as Purslane, Sun Plant, Rose Moss and Wax Pink. Common Purslane (P. oleracea) is widely considered an edible plant, and in some areas an invasive type of weed. Purslane can be eaten raw or cooked, and lends itself to stir fry dishes.

Members of the Portulaca genus are relatively easy to grow hardy or half hardy annuals that reach from 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm) in height. They carry succulent leaves and bloom from summer to the second half of autumn and carry cup shaped flowers; these may be of yellow, red, pink or white.

Growing Conditions

Light: Full sunlight
Water: During the growing period the plants need frequent watering, but let dry between watering. Portulaca does not like wet conditions and will rot in constantly wet soil.
Soil: Well-drained soil is the best.
Fertilizer: An application of a balanced slow release fertilize with minor elements every 6 months.

Portulaca

Photo via wikimedia.org

General Care

Portulaca plants tolerate many kinds of soil but prefer sandy, well-drained soil and love the full sunlight. These plants are excellent for high heat and drought tolerance, and will seed and spread themselves very well. Some control methods may be needed to keep Portulaca plants from becoming invasive to areas where they are not wanted. These wonderful plants do spread easily and very well. Portulaca species such as Purslane require no attention at all when growing and flowering; however you should remove them from the garden before Portulaca have chance to set seed as they may take over the garden. You do not need to water often for proper Portulaca care. The cylindrical foliage of the Portulaca plants retains moisture very well, thus, regular watering is not needed. When they are watered, just a light watering will do, as their root zone is very shallow.

The seeds of Purslane and other Portulaca members should be sown on the soil surface following the last frost of spring. Ideally Purslane should be grown in a sunny part of the garden and Portulaca genus members thrive in hot areas. The soil that Purslane grows in should be sandy and poor with a pH of 5.5 to 7.

If starting Purslane indoors then start about one and a half months in advance. You first need to imbibe Purslane seeds by placing within soil in a plastic bag and placing in the fridge for about 15 days. Once finished, place the soil /seeds in light and germinate at 70 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 30 degrees Celsius). It typically takes about one to three weeks for Purslane seeds to germinate. Once ready transfer into the garden at from 6 to 24 inches (15 to 60 cm) apart (depending on the size of the Portulaca species). This should be done towards the end of spring.

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