Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a plant that features succulent leaves and a distinctively red stem. Most commonly thought of as an invasive weed, the plant is becoming more popular with home gardeners who enjoy growing it for its edible qualities. High in fatty acids and vitamin C, according to an article published by The Washington Post, young purslane plants can be eaten in a salad or as cooked greens.
Purslane grows in any type of soil, from poor rocky soil to rich, loamy garden soil, according to information published by the University of Illinois. There is no need to amend poor soil to increase the nutrient levels. These plants thrive even in soil with limited organic materials.
Purslane grows from seed, and it re-seeds itself very readily. To sow the seeds, scatter them on finely textured soil. This helps them stay near the surface, as they will not germinate if they are buried more than 1/2 inch below the soil. Purslane seeds take about two weeks to germinate, and they grow quicker in warm soil. Sow in June if the weather is consistently warm (around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit). Lightly water after sowing.
Purslane is highly drought-tolerant. Its succulent leaves and stems allow the plant to survive for long periods of time without water. Still, it grows best if watered once a week during the summer if there is no rainfall.
Purslane grows best in full sunlight, but it also grows in partial shade. Morning sun exposure followed by dappled afternoon shade is best.
Purslane is ready for consumption about six weeks after growth. The young leaves and the tips of the stems are the most desirable because they have a taste similar to that of spinach, notes the University of Illinois. Wash them well, then toss them into your salad or stir-fry them. However, don't overcook them, or they will become soggy.