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Moss Rose: An Old Favorite Gets Better
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
One of my favorite plants since I was a child has been moss rose. Moss rose is known botanically as Portulaca grandilfora and has green fleshy succulent leaves with unbelievable flower power.
Moss rose is native to Brazil and has a ground-hugging habit, which means you cover much more space with fewer plants.
The Sundial series of moss rose has been at the top of my list because of its giant semi-double flowers that stay open longer into the day. Sundial peach was a recent All-America Selections winner.
Sundial peach was the first moss rose to earn the All-America Selections award. It has a unique pastel coral color. The plant is vigorous and thrives in our hot, humid summer conditions.
Believe me, if the peach color is not one of your favorites, you can rest assured that all of the other colors are just as impressive.
New in competition with the Sundial series is the Margarita series. In fact, the flashy Margarita Rosita was the second moss rose to garner All-America Selections status. Margarita Rosita plants have a mounded, compact habit when young. This improves the appearance in cell packs and is easier to remove for transplanting. Margarita Rosita is a sun-loving moss rose.
When grown in a sunny garden with well-drained soil, gardeners can rely on Margarita Rosita to flower for months throughout the growing season. The semi-double hot pink blooms appear to be designed from the sheerest tissue paper yet the flowers a quite durable. I am partial to one called Margarita Cream that has antique shades of cream, yellow and rose.
Another new series called Yubi made its debut in our area in the past few years. The Yubi has caught on very quick with gardeners and has won awards in Texas.
The Yubi group is different than the Sundial and Margarita in that the flowers are equally huge but with single petals. The centers of the flowers exposing the stamens give them all a two-toned color affect.
There are eight colors in the Yubi series: white, yellow, light pink, pink, rose, red, scarlet and apricot. The same company that introduced the Yubi series also brings to us another group called Duet. The Duet has two varieties available: Yellow on Rose and Red on Yellow. These bi-colored moss roses are very striking and are proving to be popular in our area.
The Yubi flowers don't stay open as long as the Sundial and Margarita but are still much deserving of a spot in the landscape.
Whichever you choose, select healthy transplants and space them six to eight inches apart in a bed with well-drained soil and full sunlight. Moss rose does not like wet feet or water-logged soil. In fact, after we get it established in our bed, it is considered one of the top plants for being drought tolerant. If you are fortunate to have access to rocks for your garden, this plant is ideal for this situation.
My favorite way to use moss rose is to mass plant single colors. A bed mass planted near a street with a color like fuchsia will literally stop traffic. But for a really long color display that is tough as nails, try New Gold lantana planted in back with Sundial fuchsia in front. Try combining a complimentary color of moss rose, with Purple Heart, for another easy summer long performing bed.
For large tubs or planters, I have a passion for planting the mixes with all of the colors creating a riotous display. Remember, moss rose will not do well with wet feet, so a well-drained soil is a must.
About mid summer you may want to cut back your plants by about 50 percent and fertilize. This will give you a new flush of growth, tighten up your bed and produce more dazzling flowers.
This is the perfect weekend to get some moss rose planted in your garden.