How to Look After a Portulaca

Overview

Portulaca, also known as moss rose, is an annual flowering plant native to South America. The plant is hardy in all zones of the United States, but will die back after the first frost. Portulaca is valued for its ease of care, jewel-toned blossoms and adaptability to hot, dry areas of the garden where other plants may not survive. It is widely available at nurseries, typically found growing in cell packs for easy transplanting.

Step 1

Plant portulaca in spring after the threat of frost has passed and the soil is warm to the touch. Select a planting location that receives full sun and has very well-drained, sandy soil. Moss rose is drought tolerant but will not thrive in wet, heavy or clay soils.

Step 2

Prepare the planting site by spreading a two-inch layer of coarse sand over the soil. Use a garden tiller to incorporate the sand to increase drainage, which is necessary for the health of the plant. Space portulaca plants 12 to 18 inches apart.

Step 3

Water thoroughly immediately after planting to help portulaca plants become established. Continue watering about once every two weeks during the hot summer months, but only if there has been no natural rainfall.

Step 4

Cut back portulaca when it begins to look leggy, usually around late summer. Use pruning shears to remove about half the plant's height. This will revitalize the plant and encourage more blooming before winter.

Step 5

Feed portulaca just after cutting it back, using a balanced garden fertilizer diluted to half the strength recommended by the manufacturer. Water immediately after application. Avoid over-fertilization, as this will cause thick foliage growth with few flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Coarse sand
  • Garden tiller
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden fertilizer

References

  • University of Florida Cooperative Extension: Portulaca Grandiflora
  • University of Vermont: Portulaca
  • "The Carolinas Gardener's Guide" Toby Bost, Jim Wilson; 2005
Keywords: portulaca, portulaca plants, moss rose

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.