Right about now, the heat of summer has stressed many flowers. Portulaca is one of the annual flowers that thrive in the heat without looking like a weed. Its blooms seem to be defying temperatures with its airy, rose-like, brilliantly colored flowers.
The green, leafy part of the plant is semi-succulent, but not prickly. It lays low to the ground and the flowers grow right off of the main segments, so this is not a cutting flower. But its low growing habit makes it convenient as a cheerful border for sidewalk entries and other pathways.
Although the plant reseeds a bit, without being invasive, the new seedlings are nearly microscopic. They are easily lost with the general spring clean-up. That is why I frequently start my own seedlings in my greenhouse.
Even though the seedlings are small, they are not fussy. They germinate well (except for that pelleted seed that I tried once), and the main care needed is to water gently with a misting setting. Otherwise, the plants are so teeny, they might get accidentally buried.
I prefer to start the seeds in late February, so that the plants will be large enough to keep track of in the garden when transplanted. Since they never get tall, they are easy to keep under the greenhouse lights.
I think group plantings of Portulaca are the most satisfying. I plant the Sun Dial variety most often. All the colors seem to accentuate each other. Sometimes, I do tuck a plant or two away in unusual places to surprise me later.
Seeds for Portulaca are usually easy to find locally, but not early enough to plant in February. So if you want to plant some next year, but don’t want to deal with mail order, you could buy some now for starting. Now is at least a good time to begin making a list of what you may be interested in come next late winter or seed starting time. There’s nothing wrong with having flowers on the brain all year long!