Portulaca Update

Brightly colored moss roses blooming along bricks
Portulaca Color Pop by Protopian Pickle Jar (2015) CC-BY-SA 2.0

Earlier this spring at the Children’s Garden, we instituted “The Portulaca Protection Program.” The PPP rescued baby portulaca (“moss rose”) volunteer seedlings from between the bricks of the path and replanted them along the edges of our raised beds. Unlike other plants, “who like their beds fluffy,” Portulaca grandiflora does well in between rocks and bricks, in poor quality (but well-drained) soil. The goal: Get a bright pop of color at kid-eye-level, but also be hardy enough to take the hot sun and occasionally being stepped upon by children.

The PPP has been so successful in the intervening weeks that we have expanded our mission to include not just transplanting rooted seedlings, but also propagating more portulaca plants from cuttings. Thanks to The GardenWeb message boards, I learned that you can take a piece of portulaca (especially those that are getting pretty leggy), remove some small, succulent leaves from part of the stem and just stick the denuded part in the ground. Given sufficient water (and enough soil to keep it from washing away), I found most cuttings root very quickly and will produce a good-looking baby plant. It will still be a few weeks, I think, until the baby plants bloom, but I’m looking forward to masses of moss roses in technicolor through the fall.

It’s become somewhat of an obsession, going out to the garden to check on the progress of “my” portulacas. However, we have been getting quite a lot of compliments on them, so enjoying the positive response to a project I would have taken on as a holy mission anyway.

I also have become the compulsive transplanter of a related plant species: Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea.) Like its moss rose cousin, purslane grows well between the bricks of the path. We have been transplanting it to a patch in one of the beds that we can use to teach kids about edible weeds. The purslane doesn’t really taste like much, it has kind a mucilaginous texture that tastes vaguely “green.” It might be good with a nice vinaigrette dressing, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Edit: You can see more pictures of the Beanstalk Children’s Garden from Summer 2015 here.

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