Moss Rose Guide: How to Grow and Care for Portulaca Plant

portulaca plant

As one of the most common and also easily grown succulents available for home gardens, the portulaca plant, also commonly known as the moss rose plant, is a great option for anyone wanting colorful flowers and unique foliage. In the right growing conditions, these plants can be so full of big beautiful blooms that the foliage nearly disappears from view underneath it all.

The saucer-shaped and brilliantly colored blooms, often described as rose-like in appearance, peak out among the greenery. Flowers can be found in a range of colors and can easily be mixed in a single container or planting area for a rainbow effect.

20211029 165928 Scaled

To learn more about growing tips and practices for the portulaca plant continue reading.

Note: Moss Rose is also popular as Portulaca plant. Don’t confuse them as two different plants.

General Info

This creeping groundcover plant has many varieties and hybrids that have been created to expand the colors and growth options of this versatile plan.

Portulaca plants are native to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay and therefore love warm temperatures and drier conditions than what most lowering house plants are able to tolerate.

Scientific name

Portulaca grandiflora

Other names

Portulaca, Mexican rose, Rose Moss, Sun rose, Rock rose, Moss-rose purslane

Best suited for

Portulaca flowers are easy to grow and enjoy and continue to be popular in container gardens and in pot around patios and baloneys across the country.

You can grow these plants both indoors and outdoors but make sure they receive enough light if grown indoors.

Portulaca Plant Scaled

I always had them outdoors. My mother plants them inside used tires. They spread really well and look amazing.

Hardiness Zones

Zone 2 to 11 in the US. Moss rose plants are quite hardy.

Bloom Period

Summer but if they receive a good amount of light, you can expect flowers throughout the year

Flower Colors

Colors include red, pink, white, yellow, white cream, purple, violet, and a few unique variegated shades as well.

Full grown size

About 4 to 12 inches tall, 5 to 15 inches wide depending on how you prune them

I do not let them grow over 5 inches in height and 8 inches in width. I like the thick bushy look.

Sun requirement

About 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight is required to produce good flowers

Moss Rose/Portulaca Plant Care

As they have smaller sizes with a max height of around 8-inches tall, their creeping and trailing growth can have them spread to a width of more than 2-feet in diameter when mature and makes them perfect for flower beds, rock gardens, and hanging baskets.

20211021 164511 Scaled

Being able to take care of these plants and enjoy their full beauty all comes down to proper care and ensuring the right environment Is provided at all times.  To get started, here is what you need to know about taking care of portulaca plants at home:

Watering Needs

As a succulent plant, these plants do not need a lot of water. They should only get watered when the top half of the plant in the pot has dried out. Moss rose is a drought-tolerant plant and can go long periods of time with no water thanks to the thick leaves that hold onto water. It is best to water from the bottom or with a fine tip watering can and water can damage the flowers and cause them to wilt or rot. Portulaca rots in soggy soil and cannot tolerate too much moisture.

Fertilization Options

As a flowering plant, these attractive blooming house plants can benefit from occasional fertilizing, especially right before and during the spring and summer blooming season. Fertilize portulaca every two to three weeks with a 20-20-20 water soluble or liquid fertilizer. For an even easier fertilizing schedule, you can add slow-release fertilizer pellets to the soil during planting which can be updated every 6 months at the start of the new growth season.

Soil Considerations

When grown outdoors in the garden, these plants do best in airy soils, rich in organic matter, that provide excellent drainage. The same conditions can be mirrored in containers with standard potting soil mixes. To improve drainage and prevent rotting issues, a layer of rocks can be added to the bottom to keep roots from sitting in water.

Even if a drainage layer is used, it is best to only plant moss rose in a container or basket that has adequate draining holes.


When I grew portulaca plants, my soil mix was 70% garden soil + 30% coco peat. My mother just plants them in regular soil. These plants are so hardy, they don’t care.

Deadheading Practices

As a prolific blooming plant, portulaca can often suffer from a situation where there are too many blooms fading and dying out. This can detract from the overall beauty of the plant and is why deadheading is often necessary. To do this, simply pinch off wilted portulaca flower pieces. This will keep the plant from dying back and going to seed.

Deadheading will also help ensure the blooms continue bold and bright from the start of the growing season to the finish.

Pest and Disease Checks

The portulaca is fairly resistant to pests and diseases. Aside from root rot issues from overwatering, the plant does not deal with many disease issues.

It should be checked for aphids and mealybugs as those are the most common insects that go for moss rose plants. These issues can be addressed with proper watering and temperature guidelines and treatments with safe insecticidal soaps and other natural pets control options that can remove the pests without harming the plant.

How to Grow Portulaca From Seeds

Portulaca plants can be prolific seed producers when the flowers are allowed to die off and produce seed pods. The seeds can be collected and then grown in pots or in protected areas of the garden.

20211021 164850 Scaled

The soil should be loosened and cleaned over any debris and raked out until it is fine and even at the surface.  Seeds can then be spread out over the soil evenly and then covered with a fine dusting of dried soil. The seeds should be misted to ensure they are well watered but not allowed to stay soggy.

My soil mix was 70% garden soil + 30% coco peat.

Once the seeds sprout and reach about a half-inch in size they can be moved and repotted as needed and enjoyed.

How to Propagate Portulaca From Cuttings

Moss rose plants can also be propagated more quickly by taking cuttings from the long trails of the parent plant. They root well both in soil and water medium.

Moss Rose Cuttings in Soil

To do this, simply off a piece of portulaca that is 4-6 inches in length. Remove the bottom half of the leaves and prepare the soil for the cuttings, inserting it up to the bottom most leaf left on the stem. My soil mix was 70% garden soil + 30% coco peat.

20211021 171236

In my case, I planted them in a 6″ pot and let them grow for a few months. They did pretty well so far but if you want to have a wide bushy look, you might want to transfer them to a larger pot. Moss rose plants are very hardy and can adapt to changes in growing medium easily.

20211021 172335 Scaled

Cuttings are a great way to make duplicates of your favorite colors and shades and mass produce these beautiful plants as often as you want.

Moss Rose Cuttings in Water

Take cuttings of size 6-8″ long and you may remove all the leaves on the bottom half. If you have a rooting hormone, you can insert the bottom tip (about 1 inch) and then put them in a container (about 2 inches of water).

20211021 173012 Scaled

Within a week, you will be able to see small roots from the cuttings. Wait till the roots are about an inch long and then you can pot them in soil medium. It is recommended to change the water once every 3-4 days to keep it clean and fresh.

20211029 165954 Scaled

Once you are ready to plant them in a soil pot, make an oversized hole in the soil, carefully insert the roots and make sure to cover about 2-3 inches of the cuttings. Now, you can fill the hole and make sure the plant is standing tight. Overwater it immediately.

Continue overwatering for about a week before changing to once a day. Overwatering is very important because the plants that root in water need some time and help to adjust to the soil medium. But make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.

If things go well, you should see the plant fresh and healthy. New sprouts should appear in a few days. In my case, it was a success. I was able to transfer all the cuttings from water to soil medium successfully.

How to Prune Portulaca Plants

There is no real need to prune these plants other than to keep them shaped as you wish. They produce long trailing leads that can get quite long when growing in a hanging basket. If they get too legging or are not producing a lot of flowers then trimming back the tips can help encourage new flushes of foliage and flowers.

Pruning Portulaca Scaled

Other than that, these plants can totally be left to grow however and wherever they want as a ground cover or a tailing houseplant. This is just another reason why these plants are so popular.

Leave a Comment