Moss rose

A succulent annual that works well in hot, dry areas
Nancy Norris
Common name: Moss rose, Portulaca
Botanical name: Portulaca grandiflora
Plant type: Annual
USDA Hardiness Zones: Not applicable
Cultural needs: Full sun, well drained, sandy, slightly acidic to neutral soil
Plant size: 4-6" high
Moss rose forms a low clump of multiple stems, covered in succulent flat or tubular leaves. As a succulent plant, an occasional drying will not harm it. Reserve this annual for hot, problem areas. Showy flowers, which grow in every color but blue, may overwhelm a scene, but may also compliment southwest adobes, as in the photo, where parched earth needs a lift. Allow portulaca flowers to wake up those strolling in the garden by planting it along walkways. A closer look at the stem ends reveals flowers that have dried, as well as knobby brown seed cases. Pinch a few seed cases off and store in a cool dry place. Each little pod holds dozens of tiny black seeds for sowing outdoors the next year after all signs of frost have gone. Several species of portulaca, like purslane (P. oleracea), grow wild and may make even more suitable railway annuals than the P. grandiflora you see here. While they are probably smaller, they may also be more invasive, so watch out. All portulacas are edible and nutritious, and are grown as vegetables in some areas. Flowers would be fun in salads. Buy seeds or starts in six-packs at your local nursery.


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