Yes, purslane, or Portulaca oleracea, is a succulent native to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, India, and Australia. Like most succulents, it has thick leaves and stems that can absorb and store water for the plant to use in the event of a drought. This means it can tolerate long periods without watering than most regular plants.
Purslane is an annual succulent that is considered either a weed or a medicinal plant, depending on the time in history. It has been gaining popularity again recently for its nutritional benefits, such as its vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content. The stems, flowers, and leaves of the plant can all be eaten.
Common purslane has leaves that resemble those of the jade plant: fleshy and oblong-shaped.
In this article, we will learn more about purslane and its proper cultural care. So, if you are planning on adding this plant to your succulent garden, or if you simply want to learn more about it, just keep reading.
What is Purslane?
The purslane plant is also known as pusley, fatweed, pigweed or hogweed. It is an annual flowering succulent that can grow to about nine inches tall and 12 inches wide.
It blooms during the early summer, continuing until the frost starts, and the flowers can be pink, red, yellow, orange, or white.
Purslane can tolerate cold temperatures up to hardiness zone 2.
It is edible both raw and cooked and is said to contain more beta carotene than a carrot.
Is purslane succulent?
Yes, purslane is a succulent native to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, India, and Australia. It has thick, fleshy, oblong-shaped leaves and juicy stems that store water for the plant to use in the event of drought.
Purslane plant care
Purslane prefers bright, direct sunlight, especially if you want it to produce flowers. A plant that is kept indoors, where it does not get the light that it needs, will have a hard time producing blooms, and even if it does, they might not open due to the lack of light.
This plant likes six to eight hours of full sunlight every day, but if you live in a place where the sunlight is particularly harsh, it is still possible for it to get sun damage. In that case, you will notice the tips of the leaves turning yellow or brown and becoming crisp.
If your plant is getting too much light, you might need to transfer it to another spot where it can get a little more shade every day.
A purslane plant that does not get as much light as it needs will have pale, droopy leaves and leggy stems. The latter is due to a process called etiolation, which is when the desperate plant focuses its energy on growing selected stems in the direction of the closest source of light so that it can continue to perform photosynthesis.
If you think your plant is not getting enough light, transfer it to a spot where it can get at least six hours of sunlight a day.
If you live in an apartment, place it next to a window and make sure you turn it every few days so that all sides can get their fair share of time in the sun.
If you live where sunlight is scarce during winter, you might need to use a grow light to provide the plant with its lighting needs.
Like most succulents, purslane does not need that much water because it can store a significant amount in its leaves and stems. It may not be as drought-tolerant as cacti, but it is more than capable of surviving dry spells when compared with regular houseplants.
Correct watering can also determine the success of the plant’s flowering; it does need its soil to be a bit moist at all times. As long as the soil is well-draining, your chances of overwatering will be greatly decreased.
If you keep the plant outdoors and are anticipating a long stretch without rainfall, water the plant well until all of the soil is soaked and all the roots have had adequate access to moisture.
An underwatered plant will have yellowing or browning leaves that are wilted. To resolve this, water the plant immediately. Keep watering the soil until you can see excess water flowing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
Another common mistake is overwatering the plant. This can happen if you give the plant too much water every time you water it if you water it more frequently than you need to, if you leave the plant outdoors during rainy weather, if the soil or the pot has poor drainage, or if you do not adjust your watering habits according to changes in the weather, season and climate.
Overwatering causes the plant’s roots to stand in waterlogged soil for prolonged periods so that they cannot dry out completely between waterings.
Plant roots need to dry out periodically in order to absorb oxygen; if they are in wet soil all the time, they will drown and begin to rot. The rotting roots will then be susceptible to opportunistic pathogens like fungi and bacteria, which will make the rot more aggressive and cause it to spread to the rest of the plant. Once the rot has reached the stems and leaves, it may be too late to save the plant.
If you think your purslane is overwatered, stop watering it immediately and place it in a sunny spot to help the soil dry out faster.
If you suspect that the plant has root rot, you will need to remove it from its pot. Wash off as much soil as you can from the roots, and be gentle as you do this because they will be quite fragile at this point.
Inspect all of the roots and look for sections that have turned brown or black. These roots are rotten and will have to be removed. Use a sterile knife or pair of scissors to do this until only the healthy, white roots remain.
Place the plant on dry paper towels to let the air of the root dry for a few hours.
Prepare a new pot by filling it two-thirds of the way with a fresh succulent potting mix. Place the plant in the middle of the pot and cover the roots with more soil.
Water the repotted plant and let the excess water drain from the bottom of the pot before placing the plant back in its original spot.
The best way to avoid both underwatering and overwatering is by developing good watering habits. Water the plant when the top layer of soil is dry to the touch and the lower layers are slightly moist, but not wet.
Purslane likes to grow in rocky, sandy soil because this type of potting medium drains water well.
If you plan on planting the purslane in your outdoor garden, check the consistency of the soil first. Make sure it is not dense, like clay, because this means it will hold too much moisture and may cause overwatering and root rot.
If the soil in your garden is too dense and compact, it is better to plant the purslane in a container where you can use a well-draining potting mix.
You can make your regular potting soil more well-draining by incorporating perlite or coarse sand into it.
The pot that you use for your plant should have sufficient holes at the bottom so that even if you accidentally overwater the plant, the excess will simply flow out of the holes and will not stagnate in the pot.
Temperature and humidity requirements
This plant is adept at growing in hot and dry places, but it can still grow in cooler conditions as long as it is taken indoors when the frost arrives.
It grows best and fastest during the summer because the heat and the abundant light encourage the growth of both foliage and flowers.
Try not to keep the plant in the more humid rooms in your houses, such as the bathroom or the kitchen.
Like most succulents, purslane does not really need to be fertilized to thrive. Loose, rocky soil, which is what it knows best, does not hold so many nutrients and minerals, especially compared with regular potting soil that contains lots of organic material.
But, if you want to help your plant out, you can give it a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to promote healthy growth and for greater flowering success.
Fertilizing twice during the growing season is enough.
A fertilizer that is high in phosphorus is best when you want the plant to start flowering and produce plenty of flowers.
Pruning the purslane
Purslane does not really need to be pruned much, because it only ever reaches about six inches in height.
The ideal time of year to prune the plant, if you want to, is in the spring before any new stems and leaves start to grow. Make sure that the stems and leaves you choose to remove are the ones that look ill or are about to die and fall off anyway.
If there are parts of the plant that look too thick and dense, you can also thin those out.
Use a sterile pair of shears or scissors to prune the plant, so that no diseases are spread.
How to propagate purslane
The easiest way to propagate purslane is to use cuttings. These will root easily and there is a higher chance of success with this method.
Choose a mature purslane plant that has bloomed at least once in a season, and choose a healthy stem to make a four-inch cutting. Use a sterile knife or scissors to do this. There must be one or more nodes included in the cutting.
Remove the leaves and flowers from the lower half of the cutting and place the cutting on a dry surface for a couple of days to allow the cut end to callus over.
Prepare a new pot and fill it with a well-draining succulent soil mixture, ideally containing some sand, perlite, soil, and peat moss.
Bury about two inches of the cutting in the potting mix, cut side down.
You can place a plastic bag over the container so that some humidity is trapped around the growing succulent.
Place the container in a spot where the plant can get bright, indirect light and where the temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Water the cutting occasionally, so that the soil is always a bit moist but never soggy.
After two weeks, check the status of the root growth by pulling gently on the cutting and feeling for resistance. If there is resistance, that means the roots have grown in nicely and you can start caring for the plant as you would a regular purslane plant.
How to get your purslane to bloom
Sometimes getting the purslane to bloom can be a struggle. Even if it does produce flowers, you might feel the plant is not reaching its full blooming potential. The most likely culprit in these scenarios is too much water and perpetually soggy soil.
As mentioned above, purslane may like slightly moist soil, but it does not like too much water around its roots for long periods of time. Overwatering can cause the plant to cease blooming altogether.
To remedy the lack of blooms, resolve any overwatering issues first and this could make a world of difference when it comes to flower production.
Another reason your plant is not producing flowers could be that it is not getting the light that it needs. Even two hours of lost light can make the difference. This is why six to eight hours of sunlight is suggested for this plant; if you only give it four hours of sunlight every day, it might have very few buds, if any at all.
If your purslane is in your garden but still has no flowers, check the other plants around it, because there might be some that are too tall and are blocking the purslane’s light source.
Yes, purslane is a succulent that is native to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, India, and Australia.
The plant has succulent leaves and stems that can store extra water for the plant to use in the event of a drought.
This is a low-growing plant that produces colorful flowers; it is low-maintenance and very easy to propagate.
Purslane likes to get six to eight hours of sunlight every day, and this is vital if you want the plant to have lush leaves and produce lots of flowers.
It likes its soil to be well-draining but slightly moist at all times, and as long as the temperature around it does not dip to frost levels, the plant should be fine. It does not really like humidity, so keep it away from humid parts of the house such as the bathroom and the kitchen.
You can easily propagate this plant using stem cuttings. This method is the easiest and will yield the most successful results.
If you want to increase your plant’s chances of blooming, give it all the light it needs every day and make sure not to overwater it.
Image: istockphoto.com / Annerieke Schuurman