Classification, origin and description
Common name: Portulaca or Porcelain.
provenance: South America (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay).
Genre description: includes about 200 species of herbaceous plants, almost all succulent, with fleshy stems and leaves, of a more or less dark green color. They can be annual or perennial and erect or prostrate. They have flat or cylindrical leaves, which often have a tuft of down at the base. The flowers, which have five petals, which can vary in color from yellow to pink to purple to red, are followed by capsule fruits, containing numerous small seeds. They have healing properties (diuretic, vermifuge, purgative, ascorbic) and can be used to prepare good salads.
Portulaca grandiflora (photo http://homepage.mac.com/tcseow)
Portulaca grandiflora (photo www.beddingplants.com.au)
Species and varieties
Portulaca grandiflora: coming from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, this succulent species, with reddish, semi-prostrate stems and leaves, of a bright green color, with a cylindrical section (up to 2,5 cm long), can grow up to 15-20 cm. tall and 15 cm. about wide. From June to September it produces flowers, simple or double, cup-shaped, with petals, shiny like satin, varying in color from yellow to red to purple, which open only in full sun, to close at sunset or in the shade . In October, flowering is followed by the appearance of conical capsules, containing many small seeds. On the market there are numerous varieties with simple, double, extra-double, solitary or gathered in groups of two or three, with petals of a color ranging from white to yellow, from pink to red, from orange to crimson, from scarlet red to red purple. Worthy of note: "Aurea", with golden yellow flowers; "Regelii", with beautiful purple flowers; "Rosea", which has pink flowers; "Splendens", with pink-orange flowers, with yellow shades in the center; "Thelusonii", with scarlet flowers; "Single Mixed", with variously colored flowers; "Sundial Peppermint", up to 20 cm high. with early flowers with light violet petals, speckled with dark violet, which remain open longer than those of the other varieties; "Sundance", which reaches 15 cm. tall and produces semi-double or double flowers in various colors; "Sundial Mixed", which blooms about two weeks before the other varieties and produces white, cream yellow, orange, golden yellow, peach, fuchsia, scarlet red flowers; "Warm Gold", which produces bright orange flowers, with a red center and, in addition to being particularly suitable for growing in pots, has the characteristic of keeping the corollas open even with the sky overcast.
Portulaca oleracea: in addition to the prostrate and red stems, this species has oblong edible leaves, without petiole or hair.
Portulaca sativa: also called P. d'oro, has broad leaves and is the most appreciated edible species.
Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions
Temperature: Portulaca requires a warm and sunny climate.
Light: needs a sunny exposure. Most varieties open flowers only in full sun.
Watering and environmental humidity: water abundantly in summer.
Substrate: rich and well-drained soil.
Special fertilizations and tricks: fertilize the plant during the flowering period.
They can be sown, in March, in bowls filled with a special seed compost, kept at a temperature of about 15 ° C, under a glass cover. The seedlings must be strengthened in a cold bed until May, when they are ready to be transplanted to home. Sowing can also be done directly at home, in April-May, following the thinning of the seedlings.