- Germination Days: 7 - 14
- Days to Maturity: 45-50 days (ANNUAL)
- Planting Depth: 1/4”
- Plant Spacing: 6”
- Growth Habit: Upright, up to 24” tall
- Soil Preference: Warm, well-drained, consistent moisture. Thrives in most soils
- Temp Preference: Warmer - Not Intended To Overwinter
- Light Preference: Full Sun
Purslane is a leafy vegetable that most likely originated in Mediterranean region. It is widely eaten throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. It is an annual succulent with a slightly sour and salty taste, making it an interesting addition to the plate and palate. The entire plant, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds are edible and have been used for thousands of years in different variations.
Purslane vegetable has extremely high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly for a land vegetable, as well as significant amounts of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, B-family Vitamins, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, and copper. Furthermore, the Betalain pigments (powerful antioxidant compounds) and carotenoids round out this veritable treasure trove of nutrients and beneficial organic compounds.
Tiny purslane seeds develop inside seedpods in spring and early summer. The pods grow close to the stem in a cone shape. When ripe, the top of the cone breaks off and the seeds scatter naturally. Purslane seeds are slightly oval, black and wrinkled. If you look closely, you can see a white marking on one end of the seed. To collect purslane seeds, cut the seedpods from the plants before the seeds scatter.
Purslane seeds take seven to 10 days to germinate between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can sow seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inches deep directly in the garden. Spring is the best time to plant purslane from seed. In areas with even mild frost in winter, wait until the last frost date has passed and the soil has warmed to at least 70 F before planting. In mild, frost-free climates, you can plant in late winter as long as the soil temperature is high enough for germination to occur.
Purslane can grow successfully without fertilizer but applying a water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer to your purslane weekly encourages healthy growth and flower production. A solution of 2 tablespoons of 20-20-20 dissolved in 1 gallon of water provides enough fertilizer to treat 4 square feet of garden bed. Check the package instructions because rates vary by brand.
Growing and Harvest
The only conditions that purslane does not thrive in are heavy, wet or waterlogged soil and freezing conditions during the growing season. Purslane grows well in rocky soil, is drought tolerant can withstand full sun or deep shade and grows voraciously in loamy garden soil. Harvest whole plants by pulling them from the soil during spring for use as a fresh or cooked green vegetable. You can eat the leaves and stems by picking them individually from the plant throughout the growing season.
While edible and grown as a vegetable, purslane is also considered an invasive, nonnative species. The best way to control purslane is by cutting the flowers off before the plants set seed. You can also dig the plants from the garden to remove them, but make sure not to leave any roots or stem fragments behind to grow into new plants. Do not till a purslane patch; it will come back with a vengeance and be difficult to eradicate. To help control purslane, grow it in containers and carefully remove the flowers before seeds develop.
Pests / Diseases
Purslane is a vigorous plant rarely affected by diseases or pests except for purslane sawfly and the portulaca leaf-mining weevil. The larval form of purslane sawfly looks like a caterpillar and can be picked off of the plants by hand. Severe infestations of these pests can kill the purslane. Adult sawflies emerge from the soil in late spring and lay several batches of eggs during the summer. Portulaca leaf-mining weevils are grub like in appearance and burrow into the leaves of purslane, visible below the leaf's surface. Checking your plants regularly and removing pests or infested leaves when you see them is the best way to control these pests. Natural ways of Insect Control: Strong spray of water, add 2 - 4 drops of oil of neem oil in a gallon water and spray, add 1 drop of natural soap and 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a gallon water and spray.