Portulaca grandiflora (Rose Moss Plant)

Portulaca grandiflora
top view green and pink Portulaca grandiflora (Portulaca, Moss Rose, Sun plant, Sun Rose) for background .

Portulaca grandiflora, also known as the rose moss plant or portulaca plant, is an easy-to-grow succulent that produces prolific white blooms with red centers. Rose moss plant care isn’t difficult and will provide you with lots of beautiful flowers all summer long!

The rose moss plant, despite its name, does not belong to the true Moss family (Bryophyta). It is native to Mexico, but has naturalized in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. It has become a very popular garden ornamental in California due to its drought tolerance and low maintenance requirements.

The Portulaca grandiflora has thick tap roots that penetrate deep into the soil, which allow it to thrive in dry conditions that would be fatal to most other plants.

A popular hanging plant with reddish stems and small, blue-green leaves, Portulaca grandiflora (also known as the rose moss plant) has beautiful flowers that blossom from midsummer to late fall.

Its long bloom period and ability to grow in low light make it ideal for hanging baskets or terrariums indoors or outdoors.

Portulaca grandiflora is native to South America, particularly in Brazil and Uruguay, and has been cultivated in Europe since at least the 18th century.

Origin and distribution

Portulaca is a genus of succulent plants belonging to the family Portulacaceae. This plant is native to Mexico and is often found growing wild in arid regions such as San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Querétaro, Hidalgo, and Coahuila.

It has become naturalized in Argentina, South Africa, and parts of India where it is also grown commercially for use as a herbal remedy. The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

Today there are around 80 different types of portulaca cultivated throughout the world.

Portulaca grandiflora plants are usually annuals or short-lived perennials that form mat-like colonies on rocky soil with their fleshy, sometimes tuberous roots which store water and nutrients for later use.

They can be distinguished from other members of Portulacaceae by their simple leaves which are usually deeply lobed with 3 to 5 segments per leaf and white or pink flowers that bloom from June through September.

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Portulaca grandiflora propagation

Portulaca grandiflora

Portulaca propagates by both root and stem cuttings. For propagation by cuttings, a rooting medium should be used, such as vermiculite, perlite, or sand. Mix enough rooting medium into a container to allow for approximately 4-8 inches of depth and fill it with water.

Let it sit overnight so that any chlorine present in tap water will dissipate. The next day, remove excess water from your container and plant your cutting(s). Make sure you have removed all leaves from your cutting except for one near its base.

This leaf is called a node and will serve as an anchor point for new roots. Fill in around your cutting with the more rooting medium until only 1/2 inch of space remains between your cutting and the top of your container. Mist lightly with water every few days to keep the soil moist but not wet.

After several weeks, small white roots should begin to appear at your nodes. At this time, transplant your portulaca into a pot with potting soil and continue to care for it as you would any other houseplant.

You can also propagate Portulaca grandiflora via root division. To do so, simply dig up an established clump of portulaca and separate each individual plant using a sharp knife or trowel.

Portulaca grandiflora care information

Portulaca grandiflora

Portulaca grandiflora plant is a low-maintenance plant that requires little care. Although it requires little in terms of watering and attention, it does need some TLC if you want to maximize its flowering capabilities.

They grow well in both sunny and partial shade areas of your garden or yard. In full sun, they tend to stretch a bit, but they’ll produce more flowers than if grown in partial shade or indirect sunlight.

Light requirement

Portulaca grandiflora is a versatile houseplant that requires very little light. It prefers filtered sun and only needs about 6 hours of direct light per day. This plant can tolerate lower-light situations like a semi-shaded windowsill, which makes it a good choice for homes with lighter interiors.

Just make sure to avoid placing your portulaca in direct sunlight; even though it can handle some low-light situations, too much sun will dry out its leaves and prevent them from photosynthesizing properly.

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Soil/potting mix

Add some perlite or vermiculite to your soil if it doesn’t drain well. Your potting mix should be light, airy, and well-draining. If your rose moss plant has trouble recovering from periods of underwatering, try a soil mix with extra perlite or vermiculite to add moisture retention.

Watering

Portulaca grandiflora has low watering needs, requiring just a light watering once every few days to keep it from drying out. Only water when your plant starts to look dry or wilted.

Overwatering will lead to root rot, so be careful not to overwater. You can use room temperature tap water, but you may want to let it sit for at least 30 minutes before pouring it over your plant—cold water shocks plants and could cause wilting or even death in extreme cases.

Also, ensure that you only water when necessary; over-watering is just as bad for your plant as underwatering is!

Fertilizer

Portulaca grandiflora needs a steady supply of water, but not too much. You don’t want to overdo it with fertilizer either, though. Be sure that any fertilizer you do use has a neutral pH and does not contain any minerals or salts that might burn your plant’s roots.

Some sources say that you should avoid high nitrogen formulas because they can reduce root growth. If you are in doubt about what to use, ask your local garden center for advice.

Temperature

Plants do better when kept at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Light: Keep rose moss plants in areas with indirect sunlight and avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.

Humidity

Portulaca grandiflora is succulent, which means it does best in areas with relatively high humidity. If you live in an arid environment, water your portulaca regularly and mist its leaves to keep its leaves from drying out. Although it can withstand frost, it’s best to grow portulaca indoors or in partial shade if possible.

The ideal humidity range is 40 to 60 percent. The best way to control humidity is by using a humidifier or by creating your own miniature greenhouse with plastic wrap. Mist your plant frequently and remove it from direct sunlight during the summer months, when temperatures may become too high for Portulaca to withstand.

Pruning

When pruning the rose moss plant, it’s important to take into account how often and how much light it gets. Portulaca needs a lot of sunlight, so be careful not to over-prune it. You can also prune away any dead or dying stems and leaves.

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Always make sure your pruning shears are sharp to avoid damaging your plant’s stems. If you don’t have a pair of pruning shears, you can cut off branches with small scissors. Prune in early spring before new growth begins.

When to repot

In zones with warmer summers, rose moss can remain in a container indefinitely. In cooler regions, it’s best to repot every two years in late winter. To repot your plant, choose a pot that’s slightly larger than its current one; you want to allow room for some of the plant’s root growth.

You can also keep plants in their original containers and simply refresh their soil every year or two by adding fresh topsoil mixed with compost or sand.

Dormancy/Winter rest

Portulaca grandiflora plants are perennial succulent plants that require dormancy in winter. During dormancy, they can be grown indoors in a warm and brightly lit area with plenty of water. Portulaca flowers are best if it is regularly pinched to promote branching and flowering.

It should not be allowed to dry out during dormancy. It will grow back from its roots if left outside during the winter months. If kept inside, it should not be allowed to completely dry out until spring when you begin watering again.

It can also survive outdoors year-round in zones 9-11 as an annual plant or as a perennial where temperatures do not drop below 45 degrees F for extended periods of time.

Portulaca grandiflora flower & fragrance

Portulaca grandiflora

Portulaca has long, slender flower stems that reach 2–4 inches in length. They are attached to spreading, succulent rosettes. The flowers of Portulaca are usually small and yellow, but pink or red forms exist.

As is common with members of its family, Portulaca has a strong scent.

This scent can vary depending on growing conditions and variety; plants may emit an odor reminiscent of oranges, pineapple, or even chocolate. The fragrance may attract beneficial insects like bees and butterflies to your garden.

Growth rate

Portulaca grandiflora grows rapidly in warm, wet climates. If left untended, it will quickly spread through your garden and possibly overwhelm other plants. The best way to control its growth is to place it in a container; however, you’ll want to plan on frequent watering during dry periods.

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To get rid of unwanted growth, pull up as much of these vines as possible before they have a chance to flower or produce more seeds.

Toxicity

Like many other ornamental flowers, Portulaca grandiflora is toxic to dogs and cats. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center notes that Portulaca grandiflora has a low toxicity level for pets, but recommends still keeping it out of reach of your pet.

Ingestion can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive thirst. Large ingestions may also cause anorexia or depression and weakness in dogs.

Excess consumption of rose moss may also cause nausea and diarrhea in humans.

USDA hardiness zones

Portulaca grandiflora thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 9 and 10. This means that it can survive temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.7 degrees Celsius). In colder climates, you may want to grow your rose moss plant indoors during the winter months.

However, if you live in a warmer climate, you can leave your plant outside year-round. The only exception is if your region experiences heavy frost or freezes frequently, in which case, it’s best to bring your plant inside for its own protection.

Pests and diseases

As with most plants, rose moss is susceptible to several common pests and diseases. Watch for aphids and whiteflies that attack rose moss in spring and summer.

Mealybugs can afflict rose moss as well; control them by hosing off affected plants with water or insecticidal soap. Mites also like to munch on roses, but usually, cause little damage; spray-infested rose moss plants with an organic miticide made of neem oil.

Conclusion

Portulaca grandiflora is also known as rose moss because of its delicate, rosy blossoms. Commonly used as a ground cover in sunny locations, it does well in pots and hanging baskets. It prefers full sun to partial shade and soil that drains quickly but holds some moisture.

A fast-growing annual plant with small green leaves and succulent stems, portulaca is hardy to 24 degrees Fahrenheit if kept dry, although plants grown indoors may bloom all year round.