Portulaca Grandiflora. Mixed Jewels.
Portulacas are perennial succulents - drought and heat tolerant plants which require very little maintenance. They may look like roses and may often be called Moss Roses, but the leaves are the giveaway. Moss Roses are, in fact, a type of true rose belonging in with the Centifolias.
Their other name is the common Purslane and is often seen in herbal remedies and even in cooking. Purslane is full of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, lots of Minerals and Vitamins and many other nutrients which are certainly worth investigating if you are interested in Herbs.
My Portulacas have always grown from spring right through to autumn and well into winter, perhaps because they loved their hot, dry climate and their hot, dry bed. I honestly think they could live on a rock with just a little dew in the mornings. However, they do look lovely in between the gaps in a rock garden. I would thoroughly recommend this plant as the first for your rock garden if you are thinking of building one. Magnificent specimens, but addictive - once again - as so many plants are.
And they're cheap. Buy one and you've got many by pinching off bits of the leaves and planting them. They also self seed. They come in singles and doubles. The singles really do look like single roses but their leaves are narrow and pointy and very succulent. You can pinch one off anywhere and you will get a whole new plant.
Portulacas come in white, yellow, pink, orange and red. But with the modern hybrids and cultivars, the doubles have more colours. They can be grown from seed, but I wouldn't have the patience for this. Besides, the seeds are so tiny that they're barely visible. The double looks spectacular in deep crimson pink.
Portulaca Grandiflora. Beutiful.
They are short and showy and will spread horizontally, not vertically. They are fantastic as bedding and edging plants. I had borders of Evolvulus and popped the Portulacas in just under them at the front. Their colours looked striking against the blue flowers of the ground covers. See the Evolvulus on the Perennials page.
Portulacas grow in a little mound from about 3" to 8" high and will spread about 12" across. The yellow ones look and feel like buttercups and as I said, the rest look like roses. I can't think of a better, more cheerful little plant to give your garden a lift. They open during the day in the sun, and they close at sundown to conserve water and energy. Originally from South America, they can be grown just about anywhere except in cold or high mountainous regions. They have no perfume; they were not built for that! They don't need it.
Portulaca Grandiflora Singles Mixed.
They are surface rooters, meaning they have a fibrous root system rather than a tap root (like a rose does). They love sandy soil which doesn't need to be very deep, just an inch or so, and they require very little care. They are often called the 'Ten O'Clock Flower' because that's the time when they are fully open or awake. Because they are so versatile and hardy, they can be started indoors earlier on and then transplanted outdoors when the cold weather is gone. One thing they will not tolerate is frost. Mine all went black when we had a very cold night. Warning: They do close up in the evening. This saves considerable energy when it's hot and dry. They just want sunshine .
There are lots of cultivars which open up access to many different colours. They even have a tendency to 'trail' if grown in hanging baskets. Being succulents, they will tolerate a certain amount of neglect, but it's best if they have well-drained soil and some water about three times a week. Unlike the cacti which can survive for months to years without water, they can't go dry for too long. They'll spring back though and are very forgiving. But I have had some die because I left them way too long without a drink. I mean months. They are an ideal choice for a rock garden. Another drought-tolerant plant is Dusty Miller. It will really show off your moss roses. Beautiful! And there are so many different types of Portulacas nowadays, from tiny flowers to big and fluffy blooms.