Saturday, August 11, 2012

Refining the Weed

I bought this beautiful plant for my pots only to get home and find it's the same family as one of my least favorite weeds:  purslane.

I have fought purslane for years especially in the brick walks.  It's a tricky little plant with many a built in survival mechanism.  It is easily killed with a herbicide like "Round Up" but sometimes I don't get to it or it's located too close to perennials. 

When pulled, it snaps off at ground level, leaving the roots to simple produce another plant.  If it gets to the flowering stage, it becomes really tricky.  As it's being pulled, it shoots out thousands of tiny seeds and soon another multitude of plants emerge.

Skip to the beautiful plant I brought home:

It's called "Rio Yellow" Purslane or Portulaca oleracea.  It's a member of the Ross Moss family.   Congratulations to the Ball Horticultural Company for incorporating the best of the weed and introducing a sturdy beautiful plant. 

The other Rio varieties:  Apricot, orange, rose, scarlet, and white.  An annual hardy to 32 degrees.

This succulent is super-low drought tolerant and thrives through summer heat.  Requires a low amount of watering and wants very well drained soil.  Perfect plant this year.  Keep on the dry side in the fall to continue the blooming.

It may be used as a ground cover although I planted in pots.  Gets 4-8 inches tall and spreads 12-15 inches. 

It requires 6 or more hours of sun each day and will bloom the best in full sun.

The info says it blooms spring through summer.  Mine has still not stopped blooming.  AND it attracts hummingbirds and various butterflies. 

My neighbor, Marie, told me Purslane (verdolaga in Spanish) is consider an ingredient in salads in Mexico.  The Rio series is no different.  It is said to resemble watercress in consistency and taste when the leaves are eaten young.  The leaves are rich in iron.  Older leaves can be cooked with other leafy vegetables like spinach. It is commonly found in Italian, Greek, Central American and Middle Eastern cuisines.

The flowers benefit from pinching back after blooming.  The flowers curl up at night, on cloudy days or when the plant is stressed.

There are two other new purslanes:  Fairytail has double flowers and Duet is by-colored.  The hybrid purslane's are a much fuller plant the Moss Rose and usually have more flowers.   

Dr. Gary Bachman, Mississippi State University Horticulture expert say, "Many flowering plants we use in our landscapes are really only one or two steps out of the ditch." Purslane is surely at the top of that list. 


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