Purslane, an uncommon green: growing from seed to harvest


Wild or cultivated purslane is a crawling plant that has leaves that are appreciated for their light lemony taste.

A summary of purslane facts

Name – Portulaca oleracea
Family – Portulacaceae
Type – annual, crawling

Height – 4 to 8 inches (10 to 15 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary, well drained

Flowering – June to October
Harvest – 2 months after sowing

Low-calorie content makes it great for salad or cooked like spinach leaves are. And it’s healthy, too!

Sowing and planting purslane

Purslane (a type of rose moss) mostly grows around the Mediterranean ocean and loves heat to truly develop well.

Although it grows naturally in the wild, one can also sow purslane in the vegetable patch.

Sowing purslane

Sow preferably in spring or summer in a full sun spot.

  • Sowing purslaneSowing is from March to September.
  • Wait for the soil to have warmed up well to sow (wait for May in the colder climate regions).
  • Sow in rows (every 8 inches (20 cm)) in light and well-draining soil.
  • Water at the beginning to ensure that the ground stays damp.
  • Thin when the sprouts have formed a few leaves, keeping only the most vigorous sprout.
  • Pinch the stems when plants have reached a size of more or less 4 inches (10 cm).

Tip: If you stage your sowing in time, you’ll also stage your purslane harvests in the vegetable patch.

Planting purslane

If you’ve purchased your garden purslane in nursery pots, you can transplant them from March to September.

  • Replant one purslane plant every 8 inches (20 cm).
  • Water at the beginning and then slowly cut back on the watering, since this is a plant that doesn’t require much water.

Potted purslane

Potted purslanePurslane will grow very well in a pot. Its succulent-like leaves make it highly resistant to drought, so it doesn’t need daily watering like other potted plants.

Important: prepare the pot in such a way that it has great drainage:

  • make sure it has a hole at the bottom
  • don’t let it sit in a tray or saucer
  • pour an inch or two (less than 5 cm) of coarse gravel or clay pebbles at the bottom
  • mix sand, perlite, hydrogel or pozzolana into the soil to increase drainage and make sure the soil doesn’t stay saturated with water.

Pruning and caring for purslane

Pruning purslanePurslane requires very little work and care, which makes it an easy plant to grow.

Running the hoe against weeds around the plant are about the only work you’ll have to provide.

  • Watering isn’t necessary once the purslane is well settled-in.

Harvesting purslane

Purslane re-seeds spontaneously, and a single plant can be harvested up to 3 times during the year.

Harvesting purslaneYou can start to harvest purslane more or less 2 months after sowing, or a bit later depending on the growing conditions and the climate.

  • Harvest the purslane stems by collecting the stem, but don’t cut too short to enable regrowth.
  • Better to harvest young purslane stems, since the leaves are more delicious.
  • The younger the purslane leaves, the more they melt in your mouth.

Keeping purslane

Purslane is a plant that doesn’t keep fresh for very long, since it doesn’t hold well to freezing.

But it can easily be kept for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator, in the vegetable compartment, wrapped in paper tissue.

Also, it is possible to pickle purslane in jars with vinegar and thus keep it for several months.

Learn more about purslane

Sometimes considered a weed, this cute annual plant that crawls along and spreads out offers delicious edible leaves.

Eating purslaneA staple item of the Cretan diet, purslane is both low in calories and excellent to prevent risks of cardiovascular diseases.

In it, you’ll find potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamins C and B, iron and also omega-3 and β-carotene, which are definitely part of any diet that aims to prevent many diseases. In short, purslane is loaded with health benefits!

It is cooked a bit like spinach, since it can be eaten raw in mixed salads, or cooked or in soups.

If you wish, a simple way to cook your purslane is to heat up a dollop of butter in a pan, throw in the purslane and fry for about 3 minutes.

Smart tip about purslane

If properly settled in, no need to water anymore, even in hot weather, since this plant tolerates drought very well.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: Dr. Umapathi Mangajji