Purslane is a succulent annual herb long regarded as nothing more than a troublesome weed requiring eradication from one’s property. In fact, in North America it’s affectionately known as “pigweed." Purslane sprouts up randomly and uninvited even in the best cared for landscapes. Shallow-rooted and easy to pull up, Portulaca oleracea often finds itself on the compost heap. But that kind of thinking would cause you to miss out on delicious additions to salads, soups, sauces and many other dishes. Not only tasty, purslane may very well be more nutritious than anything you already grow in your garden. Even the newest gardener will succeed with growing purslane.
Choose a sunny spot where rampantly growing purslane won’t be a problem for you in April, when all danger of frost has passed. It can quickly take over, particularly where there’s little or no competition for resources. Although purslane’s favorite growing medium is sand or sandy loam, there’s almost no soil that it won’t thrive in. So feel free to plant it anywhere.
Broadcast seeds as sparsely as possible. This will make thinning less of a chore later on. The young plants will quickly fill in any bare spots once they establish themselves.
Rake a little topsoil over the tops of the seeds. Sprinkle to water, thoroughly moistening the soil evenly. It shouldn’t be soggy or wet. Seeds will sprout in five to seven days.
Thin purslane seedlings to about 4 inches apart when they’re 3 to 4 inches tall. Keep the soil surface just evenly moist.
Pinch or cut off succulent leaves and stems any time throughout the summer for use in your kitchen. This will also encourage plant growth, so help yourself until frost takes your purslane for the winter.
Deadhead flowers immediately after blooming throughout the season, unless you want the plants to copiously seed themselves for next season. Dispose of the clipped flowers where they can’t drop seeds. Purslane plants can begin blooming as early as four to six weeks after seeds germinate. Seeds have been known to remain dormant but viable in the soil for 40 years.
Things You Will Need
- Garden rake
- If you'd rather not have purslane spoiling your lawn or garden, use it as an attractive groundcover where all else refuses to grow.
- Don't discard pulled purslane plants by tossing them onto the compost heap. They'll simply take root and resurrect, merrily dropping tons of seeds while they're at it.