Wouldn’t it be great if you could figure out how to grow purslane (Portulaca Oleracea) from seed? As a result, today is your fortunate day. Because it can grow without much aid, this tasty plant is sometimes dismissed as a weed, yet it has a slew of health advantages to offer!
A Brief Historical Background
In North Africa and southern Europe, purslane can be traced back to its ancestor. Native inhabitants in North Africa were using this herb long before Europeans arrived, according to historical records. When this plant reached the Mediterranean, Europe, and Asia it was imported and grown.
Interesting Facts About Purslane
Purslane may be viewed as a weed by certain people. This annual succulent, on the other hand, is a potent medicinal herb.
You may not have known, but this nutrient powerhouse has earned its spot in American pop culture to the fullest extent possible. The fact that this superfood is popping up in farm-to-table and fine dining venues is no surprise.
Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants abound in this superfood. Purslane has nearly 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! In addition, you have the option of eating it raw or cooked!
Purslane leaves have a salty, spicy, and lemony flavor all at once. Purslane is juicier and crunchier 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. As a result of their blooms becoming pollinated, they set seed.
Purslane’s flavor and aroma are amplified when it is harvested from the wild. They taste better after they’re grown, though. When planted in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 10, they tend to grow taller and have larger leaves.
Purslane isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The cultivation of this plant is discouraged in several areas of the country. Purslane is classified as a noxious weed by the USDA.
How To Propagate Purslane
Purslane may be grown from seed by most gardeners. Transplanting or taking stem cuttings is an option. It’s no wonder these plants spread so quickly; they’re incredibly prolific.
The local nursery may not have purslane seeds or plants. But once you get started, you won’t need to buy more seeds ever again because a single purslane plant may produce more than 50,000 seeds throughout its lifespan.
Seeds can be sown outside only after the last frost has passed and the soil temperature has reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle the seeds over moist soil and lightly press them in. They must be exposed to sunshine in order to germinate, therefore do not cover them.
When you sow your seeds, you can anticipate them to sprout within a week to a few weeks. You can thin them to approximately 8 inches apart as soon as they have a few genuine leaves.
As an alternative, if you wish to start seeds inside, you should do it at least three weeks before your area has its last frost. You can transfer them once they’ve grown their first set of genuine leaves. Prior to planting them in your backyard garden, they’ll need to be hardened off for a few days.
Before putting them in the ground, give them an extra hour of sunlight each day. Your young seedlings should not be exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time if you decide to grow them under cover, such as on your patio.
Each purslane stem has the power to regenerate itself, so did you know? Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, you can remove a stem from the parent plant and use it to propagate purslane. Remember to remove the lower half of the stem’s leaves and keep the cutting at a length of 6 inches or less.
The stem can then be planted in potting soil. Partially bury the stem, then position it in a location that receives both direct and indirect light. It’s important to keep the soil moist but not soggy at all times.
Your cutting’s first signs of growth will appear around a week after you plant it. By now, it should be strong enough to withstand a little tug from you in the potting soil. This is the time to transplant the purslane.
The stem can be sliced into pieces, each about an inch long. Bury these stems entirely at about 1/4 inches deep into the garden soil. In a few weeks, you’ll be able to view the sprouts of your new plants.
Purslane is easy to transplant, and all you need is a trowel to dig it up. Keep the plant’s roots and stems linked while you’re at it. A new hole that’s about twice the size 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. In the next stage, dirt will be used to fill in the hole that was left.
Growing for Microgreens
The flavor of purslane microgreens is tangy and refreshing. A year-round supply is always available to me because to the rapid growth of these plants on my windowsill.
You can use a seed tray or other container that is flat and broad, and fill it with potting mix at least half an inch deep.
Gently press the seeds into the damp soil. Use a heat mat to keep the seeds warm in a sunny location that is at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water them regularly until they sprout, which should take a week or so. To keep the soil from drying out, water only the top layer of the soil every few days.
The cotyledons, or earliest leaves, of the greens can be dug up as soon as they emerge from the earth. This usually occurs after a period of 14-21 days.
It’s not necessary to wait for the actual leaves of purslane to appear before you can begin harvesting its embryonic seed leaves.
To ensure a steady supply of microgreens, I only collect around a dozen seedlings at a time and leave the rest in the garden until I’m ready to move them into the garden permanently.
- Full sun is ideal for this type of plant.
- Don’t go overboard with the water.
- Prevent spread by pruning or pulling up plants before they blossom.
Cultivars to Select
Many cultivars exist, but the most common ones are “Gruner Red” and “Goldberg,” respectively.
If your local garden center or nursery carries plants grown as ornamentals, these may be treated with pesticides or other chemicals, and it is not recommended to consume the leaves.
In order to avoid ingesting pesticides and other toxins, avoid buying attractive plants from your local nursery or garden center.
Golden purslane is an oleracea cultivar that has soft yellow-green leaves and grows to be approximately 10 inches tall at maturity.
P. oleracea ‘Gruner Red’ has pink-tinted stems, much like the common purslane you have probably pulled as a weed.
Similar to the typical purslane that you may have uprooted as a weed, the stems of P. oleracea ‘Gruner Red’ are pink-tinted.
Managing Pests and Disease
Purslane is a hardy perennial. 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.
It’s possible for a significant infestation to wreak havoc on an entire crop by leaving black or blotchy telltale signs.
This is when female sawflies emerge from the ground in late spring to lay their eggs on the undersides of plant leaves.
Most of the larvae’s time is spent feeding inside rather than on the leaves’ surfaces, making it difficult to see the 1/2-inch-long black or dark-colored adults. The adults only live for about a day.
Purslane is the single host plant for this bug, which can generate multiple generations each year. Purslane, which grows as a weed in hemp fields, is also a common sight.
Apply diatomaceous earth around your plants if you spot larvae or other evidence that they’ve been eating on them.
You can either squeeze the larvae with your fingers or remove and dispose of the leaves that have been damaged by mining.
Parasitic wasps are a great addition to your garden because they love to feed on pests like these.
Portulaca Leafmining Weevil
This species of Hypurus weevil larva can chew tunnels through the leaves of your plants to feed on the sap of those plants.
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 bug prefers common purslane, which is the only known host plant.
Fruit orchards are another site where P. oleracea develops as a weed, like the blotchmine sawfly.
Spinosad, a selective insecticide, can be used to eradicate them. Apply it in the evening, when the pests are most active.
There are parasitic wasps like Diglyphus isaea that may take care of them for you.
Black stem rot, caused by the fungus otomophthora portulacae, is the only disease this plant is susceptible to.
If you overwater your plants or reside in a wet area, you’re more likely to have this disease. If you look at the stems, you’ll see black lesions that may spread to the leaves.
If the illness spreads to the leaves, you can treat it with a fungicide based on sulfur or copper.
For mild cases of fungus, I’ve found that regular application of the neem oil remedy works well.
When you plant your seeds, you can anticipate to begin harvesting mature leaves in about 50 days.
The flavor of the plant can be affected by the time of day it is harvested. The leaves are tastier in the morning because of the higher concentration of malic acid in the plants.
At night, they have less acid and are a touch sweeter. Find out what works best for you by experimenting.
Cut a portion of the plant with sharp scissors and store it in a cool place right away if you’re ready to harvest.
One stem can be harvested at a time and it will grow again.
The plant will grow back as long as the temperature is warm enough, or you can cut it down and pick as much as you desire at a time.
Going outside with scissors and cutting the entire plant to regrowth when making a large salad is a regular occurrence for me.
You can expect three harvests per year from each plant you grow because to its powerful growing habit.
A Note of Caution
Keep in mind that purslane you find in the wild or at your local garden center may be sprayed with harmful pesticides. Whenever in doubt, avoid consumption.
Leaf and stems can be stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to a week, wrapped in a cotton cloth or plastic bag, in an airtight container
If you don’t wash them before putting them in the fridge, they can last a few more days.
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.
It’s preferable to remove the leaves from the stems and arrange them in a single layer on a rack or cookie sheet due to the high water content.
They should be dehydrated or baked at 135 degrees Fahrenheit until brittle.
Alternatively, you may use them as a dry herb in your cooking and grind them up into a powder for soups and smoothies at this stage.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in a wide variety of fish. However, seafood can be pricey and some fishing methods have a negative environmental impact.
A gram of fresh leaves of purslane contains 4 milligrams of the omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and gamma-linolenic acid (LNA).
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.
If you’re looking for a fruit that’s high in vitamins A and C as well as potassium but low in sodium or sugar, go no further than watermelon.
Recipes and Cooking Ideas
When fresh, this vegetable has a mellow flavor that goes well with a wide range of foods, from lettuce and tomatoes to eggs and salmon.
Pickled purslane is one of my favorite foods.
Simply cut the leaves and pack them into a jar for a fast pickle.
Leaves should be covered with a mixture of vinegar brine (I prefer apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, and pickling spices) that has been brought to a boil.
Refrigerate for about a week before using, with the top well secured.
You may serve it as a side dish with your potato salad or as a filling for open-faced mackerel sandwiches with the leaves.
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.
Cooking trout with purslane leaves with butter and lemon in the oven is another summertime option.
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. Okra-like sludge forms if you only partially roast or boil it.
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 on a daily basis saw an improvement in their serum insulin levels.
In a short clinical research, purslane was shown to enhance pulmonary function in patients with asthma.
The Journal of Ethnopharmacology published a December 2000 study by K. Chan et al. showing that it can be utilized as an anti-inflammatory when applied topically.
One further study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in October 2003 found that it could speed up the healing process of wounds.
Salve made from dried leaves and olive oil can be applied to inflamed skin in the winter or summer months when the weather is chilly or hot.
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.
What you’ll have to worry about most is getting rid of your produce and preventing it from spreading to other parts of your garden.
With this information, you should be able to reap all the benefits of this nutrient-dense “weed” in your garden instead of chucking it in the trash.
Please share your favorite purslane preparation methods in the comments below — I’m always searching for new ways to incorporate it into my diet.
What if you’d like to grow even more medicinal plants? Following that, have a look at these:
Grow Your Plants In a Hobby Greenhouse!
It’s about time you gave greenhouse gardening a shot now that you know how to propagate purslane using these three alternative methods. Additionally, a hobby greenhouse helps you to extend the growing season of your plants by establishing an ideal growing environment. Grow your own plants in a hobby greenhouse and see the results for yourself!