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How to Look After a Portulaca

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Direct-seed portulaca into the garden if you're unable to find the plant in cell packs. Scatter the seeds on the surface of the soil and use a flat board to tamp them down. Do not cover with soil. Water thoroughly and the seeds will germinate in 10 to 14 days.

Grow portulaca in hot, dry sites such as rock gardens, near paved areas or as path edging.

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