Portulacas (Portulacas grandiflora) are also referred to as moss rose, sun plants and rose moss. A native plant to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, portulacas love heat and can survive in conditions that make many other plants wilt. They are annual plants that have a succulentlike appearance and produce 1 to 1 1/2-inch wide, cactuslike flowers that come in shades of orange, pink, red, yellow and white. Plan on starting portulaca seeds six to eight weeks before the last spring frost in your region.
Germinating Portulaca Seeds
Place seed compost into a plastic bucket. Mix the seed compost with enough water to moisten the compost down until it is moist to the touch.
Scoop the compost into the biodegradable pots to fill each full to about 1/2 inch from the top. Portulacas do not like being transplanted. Using biodegradable pots will reduce the chance of the portulaca seedlings developing transplant shock.
Lay out three or four of the portulaca seeds onto the compost in each of the biodegradable pots. If possible, purchase pelleted portulaca seeds, which can make planting the tiny seeds easier and more efficient. If you cannot purchase pelleted seeds and you are experiencing difficulty handling the seeds, use a pair of tweezers to pick up individual seeds.
Pinch a generous amount of seed compost between your thumb and index finger. Sprinkle no more than 1/8 inch of the compost over the portulaca seeds.
Set the biodegradable pots near a south- or west-facing window in your home. Ideally the temperature for germination should be between 70 and 85 degrees F, as suggested by Cornell University's Flowering Growing Guide for Portulacas. Spritz the seeds with a fine mist of water as often as needed to keep them leaning toward the moist side, but never let them become dripping wet with moisture. Germination of portulaca seeds will begin in 10 to 14 days. Transplant the seedlings when they are 2 to 3 inches high and daytime and nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees F.
Choose a planting site for the portulacas that is in full sun.
Cultivate the planting site using a garden hoe to remove any weeds, roots, sticks or clods of dirt.
Turn over between 6 and 8 inches of the soil using a spade or garden fork. Portulacas can be grown in sandy or gravelly soils, but the soil must be well-drained. If in doubt, lay out over the topsoil a 3- to 4-inch layer of perlite or plant-based dehydrated compost. Mix the compost or perlite into the soil using the fork or spade.
Dig holes for the portulaca seedlings that are large enough to accommodate the depth and width of each biodegradable planting pot. The holes should be about 8 to 10 inches apart.
Set each biodegradable pot into a basin or bucket that contains about 1 inch of water. Soaking the pots helps to soften them up and speed up the disintegration process.
Plant one portulaca seedling into each planting hole. Scoop soil in and around the seedling until the hole is totally full of soil. Water each seedling with 2 to 3 cups of water. Plan on providing the portulacas with regular, weekly watering for best flowering.
About this Author
Katelyn Lynn is a certified holistic health practitioner who specializes in orthomolecular medicine and preventative modalities. She also has extensive experience in botany and horticulture. Lynn has been writing articles for various websites relating to health and wellness since 2007. She has been published on gardenguides.com. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in alternative medicine from Everglades University.