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Moss Roses Perfect For Many Gardens
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
One of my favorite plants since I was a child has been moss rose. It is native to Brazil and has a ground hugging habit that means you cover much more space with fewer plants.
Known botanically as Portulaca grandilfora, it has green, fleshy, succulent leaves with unbelievable flower power. A similar plant, though weedier and not as showy, is Portulaca oleracea, known as purslane.
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. One of this year's 1999 All America Selections is Sundial peach.
Sundial peach is 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. If the peach color is not one of your favorites, rest assured that all the other colors are just as impressive.
Another new moss rose series called Yubi made its debut in our area last year. The Yubi has caught on very quickly with gardeners and has garnered awards in Texas. It flowers are as big as those on the Sundial, but with single petals. The centers of the flowers exposing the stamens give them all a two-toned color affect.
There are eight clear colors in the Yubi series, white, yellow, light pink, pink, rose, red, scarlet and apricot. The same company that introduced the Yubi series will also bring 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 should prove to be popular in our area.
The Yubi flowers don't stay open as long as the Sundial but are still very deserving of a spot in the landscape.
Select healthy growing transplants and space them 6 to 8 inches apart in a bed with well rained soil and full sunlight. Moss rose does not like wet feet or water logged soil. After it is established in our bed, it is considered one of the top drought tolerant plants. Moss roses are ideal for use with rocks, if you are fortunate enough to have access to these for your garden.
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. 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 bed that performs all summer.
I do have a passion for planting the mixes with all of the colors that create a riotous display in large tubs or planters.
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.
Just remember that most problems I have seen with moss rose in our area can be attributed to wet feet. So well-drained soil is a must.