This colorful charmer is native to South America where it grows on dry, rocky slopes and plains. It has a creeping, matlike growth habit, sending out many succulent reddish stems with short, fleshy green leaves.
The satiny single or double flowers come in many luscious clear colors including yellow, pink, coral, fuschia, red, and white. Perhaps this sun-lover's only fault is that the flowers stay closed on cloudy days.
Common name: Moss rose or rose moss
Botanical name: Portulaca grandiflora
Plant type: Annual
Height: 4 to 8 inches
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Well-drained loam or sandy soil
• Moisture: Dry
• Mulch: None
• Pruning: None
• Fertilizer: None (in average garden soil) or light monthly application (in nutrient poor soil)
Pests and diseases
• Look for series including Sundial, Sundance, and Happy Hour, which all come in multiple colors.
• Use moss rose in difficult dry soil sites such as sidewalk edges or around sunny patios.
• Moss rose is a good choice for hanging baskets and patio containers in sunny spots.
• Many gardeners are familiar with moss rose's cousin, common purslane
(Portulacaoleracea), a notoriously hard-to-get-rid-of garden weed that can regenerate new plants from small bits of broken stems. On the plus side, young stems and leaves can be eaten as a vegetable either raw or cooked.
All in the family
• Moss rose is a member of the purslane family (Portulacaceae), which is composed primarily of annuals and herbaceous perennials.
• Lewisias (Lewisia spp.) are also in this family. They're wildflowers native to western North America; several species, including Siskiyou lewisia (L. cotyledon), are popular garden plants.
Where to buy
• Park Seed, parkseed.com
• Stokes Seeds, stokeseeds.com
• Harris Seeds, harrisseeds.com