There are two types of portulaca, Purslane and Moss Rose. Purslane has broad leaves and cup-like flowers and Moss Rose has needle-like leaves and rose-like flowers. Both love hot weather and can -tolerate some drought. I grow both types but I’m partial to Purslane which is a fast-growing plant with jade-like succulent leaves and produces an abundance of colorful flowers – from spring through early fall. It grows wild in much of the US, and in some places is considered a weed. States that report lots of wild-growing Purslane include Iowa, Illinois and Indiana and most of the New England States. I discovered the beauty of Purslane and how easy it is to grow and to propagate several years ago, and I have had purslane plants every year since, some, in the ground and some in pots.
When shopping, choose a plant with shiny green leaves and lots of new growth. Whether the plant has flowers is not important; they will show up later. Plant them in a location that gets lots of sun, give them a good soaking and appy some fast-release fertilizer – and water them from time to time. The easiest way to propagate purslane is to cut a stem that has new growth above your cut and to stick the lower end of the stem into a hole in the soil – in a pot or in your garden. Soak the cuttings after you set them out and add enough water from time to keep them moist. The left photo above shows one of my healthy plants that has several stems suitable for cutting and planting. The other photo shows a pot of soil where I have recently set out several cuttings from plants with different colored flowers. I expect these plants to root and show new growth in about a week.
This is what one purslane enthusiast says about Purslane: “If I were going to be on a deserted island and could take only one plant it would be purslane – happy blooms, grows fast and you can eat it.” That’s right you can eat purslane which contains lots of nutrients, including heart-healthy omega-3 oils. The leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds are all edible and are used in lots of recipes, especially salads. Always wash your harvest well before making a meal. Check out this cucumber-tomato-purslane salad that sounds and looks delicious.
In short, Purslane Portulaca will give you an abundance of beautiful colored flowers from spring to fall – with a minimum of effort on your part, and you can harvest these plants to make delicious, healthy meals.