No, I’d rather learn how to grow purslane (Portulaca Oleracea) than anything else. As a result, today is your fortunate day. Even though it can grow on its own without a lot of aid, this nutrient-packed and diverse plant has a lot to offer!
A Brief Historical Background
Purslane’s origins can be traced back to North Africa and the Mediterranean region of Europe. Native North Africans cultivated and foraged for this plant long before Europeans set foot on the continent, according to historical records. Plants from the Mediterranean region, Europe, and Asia eventually made their way to other continents and were successfully domesticated.
Interesting Facts About Purslane
Purslane may be viewed as a weed by some, yet it is actually a nutritious food source. However, this year-round succulent is also a potent source of therapeutic benefits.
There is no denying that it has become an integral part of American pop culture. The fact that this superfood is popping up in farm-to-table and fine dining venues is no surprise.
Antioxidants and vitamins are found in abundance in this product. Purslane provides almost seven times as much beta carotene as your beloved carrots!!
When it comes to common purslane, it looks like a tiny piece of jade, but the best thing about it is that you can eat all of its parts! You can eat it raw or cooked, which is an added bonus.
Purslane leaves are salty, spicy, and lemony at the same time, if you’re curious. Purslane is more tender and juicy than arugula.
The blossoms of purslane have five petals and yellow stamens, despite their modest size. They usually bloom from the middle of summer to the beginning of the fall. Now, their blossoms are ready to produce seeds on their own.
Depending on where it is grown, wild purslane might have a more powerful flavor and a more potent aroma. They’re tastier after they’re grown, however. They tend to grow more upright and have larger leaves when grown in USDA hardiness zones 5–10.
Purslane isn’t a food everyone enjoys. Cultivation of this plant is discouraged in several regions of the country. Purslane, on the other hand, is considered a noxious weed by the USDA.
What Is Purslane?
Throughout its history, the annual succulent P. oleracea has been labeled as both a useless weed and a potent therapeutic plant.
In the US, it’s known as small hogweed, fatweed, pusley, and pigweed. It’s recently become famous because of its nutritional value.
As a source of antioxidants and nutrients, purslane is even more nutritious than carrots, which have seven times as much beta carotene.
There is also attractive wingpod purslane (P. umbraticola) in the Portulaceae family, as well as the moss rose (P. grandiflora). Rather than being grown for food or medicine, these species are often grown for their flowers.
Moss roses can come in many different hues and are found in the desert. The perennial wingpod kind features green, spherical leaves, reddish stems, and yellow blossoms.
The leaves, stems, blossoms, and seeds of common purslane, on the other hand, resemble a miniature jade plant. They can be eaten raw or cooked.
With a peppery kick reminiscent to arugula, the leaves are slightly lemony and salty.
Five petals and yellow stamens adorn the tiny yellow flowers of this plant. Between mid-summer and early fall, the blooms are fertilized, and seeds are produced.
Some people aren’t quite as enthusiastic about this superfood as I am.
It is considered a “noxious weed” by the United States Department of Agriculture, and its cultivation is restricted or forbidden in some areas.
Let it not deter you (unless you have a good reason to, depending on where you reside!)..
A “superfood,” purslane is also making its way into some of the country’s most upscale restaurants and farm-to-table eateries.
Cultivation and History
P. oleracea has spread to nearly every country in the world, including North America, where evidence suggests that native Americans had been farming and foraging for it long before Europeans arrived. It is most likely to have originated in northern Africa and southern Europe.
Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean region have historically grown it.
Foraging and eating wild foods, which have a more powerful and pungent flavor, are also options.
Purslane grown in a controlled environment has a milder, sweeter flavor, in my opinion. Grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-10, cultivated plants tend to have bigger leaves and an erect shape. Come harvest time, that’ll come in handy.
How To Propagate Purslane
Purslane may be grown from seed by most gardeners. If you prefer to start from seed, you can do it by taking stem cuttings or transplants. Isn’t it amazing how quickly these plants can spread?
Purslane seeds and plants may be hard to come by at your local nursery. A single purslane plant may produce more than 50,000 seeds over the course of its lifespan, so you won’t need to purchase any more seeds after you buy some to get started.
Seeds can be sown outside only after the last frost has passed and the soil temperature has reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Sow the seeds by sprinkling them on the earth and gently pressing them in. Avoid covering them up because they need sunlight to germinate.
After planting the seeds, you should notice sprouts in 7 to 10 days. As soon as you see any real leaves emerging, thin them to a distance of around 8 inches.
Make sure to sow seedlings indoors at least three weeks prior to the last frost to ensure that all frost risks have been eliminated. You can transfer them after they’ve developed one full pair of leaves. A few days of hardening off would be required before you could plant them in your garden.
Before putting them in the ground, give them an extra hour of sunlight each day. Your seedlings should not be exposed to the sun for too long if they are placed in a shaded area such as your patio.
What if I told you that every purslane stem has the capacity to regenerate itself? To propagate purslane from stem cuttings, simply cut a stem from the parent plant with a sharp knife or pair of scissors. It’s ideal to keep the cutting’s length at 6 inches or less, and to remove the leaves from the stem’s lower half.
Next, you can put the stem in potting soil. Make sure that the stem is placed in a location that receives bright and indirect light. It’s important to keep the soil moist but not soggy at all times.
You’ll notice the first hints of growth in your cuttings a week after you plant them. The plant should now be stable enough to be gently tugged from the soil without it falling out. At this time, you can transplant the purslane.
Alternatively, you can cut the stem into one-inch-long pieces. The stems of these plants should be completely buried in the garden soil at a depth of about 1/4 inch. In a few weeks, you’ll be able to view the sprouts of your new plants.
Simply dig up the purslane with a trowel when you’re transplanting it. Keep the plant’s roots and stems linked while you’re at it. A new hole that’s about twice the diameter of the plant’s root ball can be dug next.
Make sure that when you replant the uprooted plant, you don’t go any deeper than you did before. Filling the hole with dirt is the next stage.
Grow Your Plants In a Hobby Greenhouse!
Purslane may be propagated using any one of these three methods, so now is the time to give greenhouse gardening a try. A hobby greenhouse not only keeps your plants safe from the elements, but it also provides an ideal growing environment, allowing you to extend the growing season of your plants. Grow your plants in a hobby greenhouse and reap the rewards!
Growing for Microgreens
They have a tangy and juicy flavor. Because they grow so quickly, I can always count on having a supply year-round on my windowsill.
Fill a flat, broad container with potting mix to a depth of at least 1/2 inch.
Gently press the seeds into the damp soil. If you don’t have access to a heat mat, place the seeds in a sunny area with a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep the soil moist for about a week until they sprout. After that, water only when the soil’s surface is dry between applications.
You can start digging in when the greens, or cotyledons, emerge from the dirt with their first leaves. Typically, this occurs within 14 to 21 days.
While some plants require the actual leaves to grow before harvesting, purslane’s embryonic seed leaves are juicy and delectable.
As a rule, I prefer to pick my microgreens when I need them, and then transplant a few dozen seedlings into the garden when I’m ready to continue harvesting.
- Place your plant where it will receive direct sunlight all day.
- Avoid over-watering your plants.
- Plants should be pruned or pulled up before they flower in order to inhibit their spread
Cultivars to Select
There are many cultivars to choose from, but the most popular are ‘Gruner Red’ and ‘Goldberg.’
Garden centers and nurseries may sell plants that have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, and it is not suggested that you eat them.
Purslane (P. oleracea) is a common garden cultivar that grows low to the ground and can spread up to 18 inches wide when mature.
Golden purslane has soft yellow-green foliage and matures to approximately 10 inches tall, making it ideal for small gardens.
‘Goldgelber’ P. oleracea can grow up to 12 inches broad and develops in just 26 days! Mature plants can reach 6 inches in height.
To make it look like the common purslane you’ve probably picked out of your lawn, P. oleracea ‘Gruner Red’ has pink stems.
One-inch long leaves and a height of up to 12 inches make this plant an excellent choice for the garden.
Managing Pests and Disease
Prunus purslane is a hardy plant However, there are a few things to keep an eye out for when it comes to pests and diseases, such as:
Purslane Blotchmine Sawfly
A sawfly that eats its way through the leaves of plants is Schizocerella pilicornis, or purslane blotchmine sawfly.
When a severe infestation occurs, it can wipe out an entire crop due to the leaves developing black or blotchy spots.
Adult female sawflies emerge from the ground in late spring to lay their eggs on the undersides of plant leaves.
Black or dark-colored 1/2-inch long adults may be difficult to identify since the larvae spend most of their time inside the leaves before they descend down to the ground to burrow in the soil and pupate, and they normally only live for a day.
Purslane is the only host for this bug, and multiple generations can be generated each year.. Purslane, which grows as a weed in hemp fields, is also a common sight.
Diatomite earth can be applied to the area around plants you suspect have been harmed if you observe larvae or other evidence that they have been eating on them.
To be on the safe side, you can compress leaves with mining damage between your fingers to kill the larvae or remove and dispose of them.
Your garden may benefit from the presence of parasitic wasps, who are known for their fondness for devouring pests.
Portulaca Leafmining Weevil
Small leaf-mining grubs, Hypurus bertrandi weevil larvae can dig tunnels through your plants’ leaves.
In addition to feeding on the leaves’ edges and surfaces, as well as stems and seed pods, adults can also inflict harm. However, this is just a small fraction of the damage that feeding larvae can produce.
This insect’s sole known host plant is common purslane.
This sawfly, like the blotchmine sawfly, is common in apple orchards, where P. oleracea is also common.
Spinosad, a selective insecticide, can be used to eradicate them. At night, when pests are most active, use this product.
There are parasitic wasps like Diglyphus isaea that can help you deal with the problem.
In fact, the fungus Dichotomophthora portulacae is the sole disease this plant has trouble with.
If you overwater your plants or reside in a wet area, you’re more likely to have this disease. The stems will have black lesions, which may spread to the leaf surfaces.
There are sulfur- and copper-based fungicides that can be used in cases when disease has reached the leaf.
I’ve found that a few minor spots on the stems may be treated well with neem oil applied regularly.
When you plant your seeds, you can anticipate to begin harvesting mature leaves in about 50 days.
The flavor of the plant might be affected by the time of day it is harvested. The leaves have a more sour flavor in the morning because the plants have more malic acid in them.
During the evening, they have a lower acid content and are a little sweeter. Discover what you like by trying different things.
Cut a portion of the plant with sharp scissors and store it in a cool place right away if you’re ready to harvest.
As long as you don’t remove too much of the stem, it will regrow.
As long as you leave about 2 inches of the plant above the earth, the plant will regrow as long as the weather is warm enough for it to do so.
Going outdoors with scissors and cutting off the entire plant when making a large salad is something I do to encourage regrowth at the plant’s base.
You can expect three harvests per year from each plant you grow because to its powerful growing habit.
A Note of Caution
Make sure to check the purslane you find for pesticide residue before eating it or purchasing it from a nursery. If you are unsure, do not eat or drink.
Wrap the leaves and stems in a cotton cloth or a plastic bag and keep them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to a week.
If you don’t wash them first, they’ll keep for a few extra days in the fridge.
Greens can be dried if you don’t want to use them straight away, as I did after taking on a particularly large patch of wild variety in my garden one year.
Soups and sweets benefit from the thickening properties of dried purslane, which can be used in place of flour.
It’s preferable to remove the leaves from the stems and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet or rack.
A dehydrator or oven set to 135 degrees Fahrenheit can be used for this step.
Alternatively, you may use them as a dried herb in your cooking then mix them up into a powder for soups and smoothies at this stage.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in a wide variety of fish. Fish, on the other hand, can be pricey, and some methods of fishing are harmful to the environment.
There are 4 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and gamma-linolenic acid (LNA) per gram of fresh purslane leaves.
You may save a lot of money and help the environment by growing your own purslane. P. oleracea has more omega-3 fatty acids per serving than any other commonly consumed green vegetable.
In addition to water, the luscious leaves and stems are loaded with vitamins A and C, as well as minerals and trace elements such as iron and potassium magnesium.
Recipes and Cooking Ideas
When it’s fresh, the flavor of this vegetable isn’t overpowering, so it goes nicely with everything from lettuce and tomatoes to eggs and seafood.
Pickled purslane is one of my favorite vegetable dishes to prepare and eat.
Simply cut the leaves and pack them into a jar for a fast pickle.
Pickling spices and apple cider vinegar are two of my favorite vinegar brines, so I usually make a concoction of those four ingredients and then pour it over the leaves to cover them.
Refrigerate the container for at least a week before using.
Tossing the leaves in a potato salad, or layering them on a mackerel sandwich, is excellent.
Fresh or sautéed leaves can also be added right before serving soups. When it’s hot outside, I like to have chilled cucumber purslane soup.
To roast trout in the oven with butter and lemon, you can also fill it with fresh purslane leaves.
A grain salad with pomegranate seeds and cooked barley is a great way to use up some of my purslane microgreens in the middle of the winter.
When cooking with purslane, I recommend either eating it fresh or cooking it thoroughly. While roasting or boiling it, the texture becomes akin to the slimy texture of Okra.
Purslane’s therapeutic properties have been extolled for millennia.
There’s some evidence to suggest that it can help lessen uterine bleeding these days, however. One study found that persons with diabetes who ate the food regularly saw an improvement in their serum insulin levels.
A small clinical trial found improvement in pulmonary function when purslane was used to treat asthma.
Purslane has been shown to improve lung function in a limited clinical trial for the treatment of asthma.
An additional study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in October 2003 by A.N. Rashed, F.U. Afifi, and A.M. Disi found that it could speed up the healing of wounds.
The dried leaves can be steeped in olive oil for several days to form a salve, which I then apply to my skin whenever my skin is inflamed by the cold or the heat.
Quick Reference Growing Guide
It Doesn’t Get Any Easier Than Growing Purslane
There are many herbs and vegetables that claim to be easy to cultivate, but purslane is a standout.
Your biggest challenge will likely be using up your harvest, and stopping it from spreading throughout the rest of your garden.
The most difficult part of your task will be consuming your produce and preventing it from spreading to other parts of your garden.
If you have any favorite purslane preparation methods, please share them with me in the comments section below.
There are a number of medicinal plants that you can cultivate in your yard. Following that, have a look at these:
To prevent a purslane invasion of your garden, remove the blossoms before they go to seed. To prevent purslane clippings from re-rooting, always burn or dispose of them in the trash, and never put them in your compost.
Any location where you’ve planted purslane should be avoided being dug up or tilled because doing so could either increase the amount of seed spread or bring up purslane seeds that were too deep in the soil for them to germinate.