Moss roses: tips for growing Portulaca grandiflora


Having studied organic farming, I enjoy trying out new cultivation methods and other gardening experiments with friends in our community garden. I care deeply about exploring sustainable and mindful approaches to working with nature. This is my biggest passion, but I am also a real ornamental plant enthusiast!

Favourite fruit: strawberry, mango, guava
Favourite vegetables: artichoke, tomato, rocket

Many know moss roses (purslane) as a vegetable, but not as a flower. Here, you can learn how to properly plant and care for moss roses in your own garden.

orange flowering moss rose
Moss rose may be related to purslane, but it is not edible

Although the vegetable purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and purslane floret or moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora) belong to the same genus (Portulaca), they are grown and used differently. While the vegetable purslane is used for consumption, the moss rose is an ornamental plant. This is a beautiful flower that blooms in bright, vibrant colours in flower beds, on balconies or on a terrace. The moss rose is an attractive summer plant with which you can do little wrong. In our article, we tell you everything you need to know about the moss rose: from its origin, to planting and care.

Vegetable purslane is currently back in fashion and is valued as a nutritious green vegetable. However, the related moss roses should not be underestimated. These are from the purslane genus and from the purslane family (Portulacaceae). There are about 100 species of this beautiful flower worldwide, but in Europe you can find only two. With bright, bold colours like orange, pink, yellow and red or brilliant white and even in pale pink pastel shades, moss roses offer a wide range and provide colourful accents everywhere. What is special is the extraordinarily long flowering period of the little plant: You can admire the motley flowers from June and even into October. And the beautiful flowers are not only good for growing in beds – they also look good in pots, so even people without a garden can enjoy this plant. In a sunny place, the flower also decorates balconies or terraces – but only when the sun shines. On cloudy days, the moss rose does not open its flowers. Moss roses are related to the vegetable purslane, but are not edible. Although the flowers and leaves are not poisonous, consumption is still not recommended.

Moss rose: origin and properties

Portulaca grandiflora originally comes from South America: it feels at home on sandy soils in Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. However, it can thrive well in all countries with frost-free climates, where it also occurs in the wild. In the early 19th century, the flower first came to England, from there it began its triumphal march to almost every continent. Today it is a popular summer plant – not only in our country, but around the world.

carpet of colourful rose moss flowers
The flowers open in the sun to reveal their colourful displays [Photo: studio2013/]

Moss roses are annual or weakly perennial succulent or semi-succulent plants. They only grow about fifteen centimetres high and usually grow strongly in width. The leaves are 20 to 25 millimetres long, two to three millimetres wide, and almost round. There are numerous wool like, white hairs in the leaf axils, but they are shorter than the leaves. The flowerheads are surrounded by eight to ten leaves. The flowers can have a diameter of up to four centimetres. These can be both filled and unfilled. This eventually develops bursting fruit four to six millimetres in size containing very small black seeds.

Buying moss roses

Moss roses are wonderful for novice gardeners and people without green thumbs. They are easy to clean and pretty much unbreakable. However, as annuals, they need to be replanted every year. Those who do not want to do the work of self-growing, can simply buy pre-grown plants in stores. From spring onwards, these can be found inexpensively in garden centres, nurseries and also on the internet. When buying, the choice of variety plays a role, as this determines the growth and flower colour of the plants. We have compiled a small overview of recommended varieties for you below.

Recommended moss rose varieties

  • ‘Bicolour’: This variety blooms bicolour yellow and pink. It prefers especially sunny and hot conditions
  • ‘Carnaval’: the flowers of this variety are as colourful as the costumes at a carnival; they can be yellow, orange, red or pink
  • ‘Sundial Chiffon’: This variety is characterised by its particularly early flowering; it blooms as early as June with pink, semi-double flowers
  • ‘Stopwatch Cream’: The flowers of this variety are cream-colored with a pink centre
  • ‘Sundial Gold’: This variety is ideal as a ground cover, as it is densely branched; the flowers are ruffled and golden yellow.
pink double flower
The variety ˈSundial Chiffonˈ flowers in pink [Photo: Akenarin/]

When buying, it is also important to pay attention to the health of the plant. The leaves should be intact and have a strong, green impression when purchased. The plant should also be free of diseases or pests.

What to consider when buying moss roses

  • Variety selection
  • Healthy plant
  • Undamaged leaves
  • Rich green colour
  • No diseases or pests

Planting moss roses: location and growing conditions

In sunny and warm locations, moss roses can show off their colourful power. In partial shade, flowers lose many petals and just do not feel so comfortable. The soil or substrate should be light and sandy. Both in the garden and in the pot, you can therefore mix heavy soil with sand to make the flower as comfortable as possible.

Environmental requirements of moss roses:

  • As sunny as possible
  • As warm as possible
  • Lean, light and sandy soil

As soon as the last frost has passed in mid-May, the moss rose can be planted outdoors. First, prepare the bed by loosening the soil well and removing weeds and stones. If the soil is too heavy, also mix in sand. For planting in a pot, create a drainage layer with pot shards or gravel. Potting soil is suitable as a substrate – for example our peat-free Plantura Organic Flower Compost – which you should mix to a fifth with sand or fine grit. Now dig small holes in the bed or pot at a distance of 10-20 centimetres. Put the plants in the holes – but only as deep as they were in the seed pot before. Now everything should be watered well and also kept well moist in the following days. After a week, gradually reduce the watering.

two potted moss roses
Moss rose is suitable for flowerbeds and pots [Photo: terra incognita/]

Step-by-step instructions for planting moss roses:

  • Prepare the bed: loosen soil well, remove weeds
  • Create a drainage layer in the pot
  • Mix soil or substrate with sand
  • Dig small planting holes
  • Planting distance: 10 – 20 cm
  • Planting depth: Not deeper than in the seed pot
  • Water
  • After a week, gradually reduce watering
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all flowering plants in garden beds & pots
  • For beautiful blossoms & healthy plant growth
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Tip: A good companion for the moss rose that has similar requirements for sun, water and nutrients is the Livingstone daisy (Dorotheanthus) or African daisy (Gazania).

Moss rose: plant care

Once a moss rose is planted and it likes its location, it will attract attention mainly for its flowering, rather than time-consuming care. Nevertheless, you should keep an eye on watering, mulching and fertilising to get something out of the beautiful bloom for as long as possible.

As a succulent, the rose needs little water, even longer periods of thirst will not bother it. On the contrary – too much watering, although well-intentioned, is more likely to cause harm. In flower beds, you really only need to water the flower in periods of extreme drought. Otherwise, it will do without water on your part. Moss roses in pots should only be watered when the top layer of the substrate has dried. Check with your finger to see if the plant really needs water.

three pink moss rose flowers
Moss rose requires little care

As far as fertiliser is concerned, Portulaca grandiflora also prefers to be spartan. After planting, place a thin mulch layer of compost around the plantlets in the bed and they will not need fertilising all summer. Alternatively, you can use a slow-release fertiliser such as our Plantura Flower Food for this purpose. The rose also enjoys an environmentally friendly and resource-saving organic fertiliser with an organic slow-release effect in pots. This only needs to be administered every two months and is gentle on people, animals and nature. If you additionally pluck off all wilted flowers consistently and regularly, nothing will stand in the way of a lush and long bloom in your garden or on your balcony.

Flower Food, 1.5kg
Flower Food, 1.5kg
  • Perfect for flowering plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • For healthier plants with beautiful & long-lasting blossoms
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

How to look after moss roses

  • Water only during extreme drought in beds
  • Water only when the top layer of the substrate has dried in pots
  • Spread a thin layer of compost as mulch in the bed after planting
  • Alternatively, apply a fertiliser with organic long-term effects only once
  • Use succulent fertiliser every 5 – 6 weeks in pots
  • Alternatively, apply a fertiliser with organic slow-release effect every 2 months
  • Pluck off withered flowers

Cannot get enough of moss roses? Then you are sure to love vegetable purslane.