Care of Moss Roses

Overview

Moss rose is an old-fashioned flower that was found and developed in the early 19th century by Dr. John Gillies, who discovered them growing like a carpet in Argentina near the Andes. They are also called portulaca and are a non-invasive plant from the purslane family. They are a succulent plant with vining stems that vary in color from green to yellow to red and leaves that look like little bananas. Moss rose can grow to 6 inches tall and each vine produces flowers that look like miniature roses, hence the name. The flowers bloom in yellow, orange, red, pink, white and lavender and can have five petals; double varieties have 30 or more.

Step 1

Select a sunny, well-drained planting area.

Step 2

Wait until soil has warmed and there is no chance of frost. Turn over the soil with a shovel and break up any large clumps of dirt. Add a few shovels of compost and dig it in to make a light soil mix.

Step 3

Mix a package of the small, black seeds with ½ cup of sand. Sprinkle the seed-sand mixture on the ground and cover lightly with soil. Saturate the ground around the seeds with water, using a spray bottle so the seeds do not get washed away.

Step 4

Water the area when it gets dry every day or so. Thin seedlings to about 3 inches apart once they are about 1 or 2 inches high. They will reach their optimum height in about three weeks from the time they sprout and will start to produce flowers.

Step 5

Plant established plants purchased at the garden center if you wish to get a head start on the growing season. Prepare the soil in the ground or in containers. Remove the plant from the temporary container and pull apart the roots if they are bound together. With a trowel dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots and place the plant in the hole. Cover with soil up to the base of the stem and press down to secure the plant in the soil. Keep them watered a little every day for the first few days.

Step 6

Water only when there has not been rain for more than a week. These plants are succulents and similar to cactus. They hold water in their fleshy vines and leaves and disperse it when needed. They are extremely drought tolerant. Do not use an overhead sprinkler to water moss rose. The flower petals can be knocked off easily. Instead use a watering can and avoid hitting flowers with the water or use a drip irrigation hose around the roots of the plants.

Step 7

Cut back the vines with garden shears if the plants stop blooming. Remove any seed heads. This should start them blooming again.

Tips and Warnings

  • Plant moss roses only in the sun as they will not bloom in even partial or filtered shade. The flowers will close at night but they will reopen once the sun hits them in the morning. Aphids can be a problem with moss rose on occasion. If you have an infestation, carefully spray with an insecticidal soap.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers (flower pots)
  • Sand
  • Seeds or plants
  • Gardening shears
  • Watering can or drip irrigation hose
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Trowel

References

  • Gay Gardener: Portulaca Grandiflora
  • University of Arkansas Dept of Agriculture: Moss Rose
  • Floridata: Portulaca Grandiflora

Who Can Help

  • Botany: Portulaca
Keywords: moss rose care, planting moss rose, cultivating moss rose, portulaca care