Do you want nothing more than to learn how to propagate purslane (Portulaca Oleracea)? If so, then today’s your lucky day. This delicious yet versatile plant may be considered as a weed simply because it can grow without much help at all, but it offers plenty of health benefits!
A Brief Historical Background
One can trace purslane’s origins to North Africa and Southern Europe. Historical evidence shows that this plant was cultivated and foraged by native people across North Africa even before the Europeans set foot on the continent. Eventually, this plant was brought and cultivated in the Mediterranean area, Europe, and Asia.
Interesting Facts About Purslane
Others may think that purslane is nothing but a useless weed. However, this annual succulent also happens to be a mighty medicinal plant.
If you’re not aware, this nutritional powerhouse has rightfully earned its place in American pop culture. So, don’t be surprised to find this superfood in fine dining, as well as farm-to-table restaurants.
It’s a rich source of vitamins, minerals, as well as antioxidants. You might be surprised to know that purslane practically has seven times more beta carotene than your favourite carrots!
The common purslane may look like a tiny jade plant, but the best thing about it is that you can eat its seeds, stems, leaves, and flowers! What’s more, you can enjoy it raw or cooked!
If you’re wondering, purslane leaves taste a bit salty, peppery, and citrusy at the same time. Compared to arugula, purslane is juicier and crunchier.
Purslane’s flowers are small, and each has about five petals, as well as yellow stamens. In most cases, they blossom between the midsummer season and early autumn. At this point, their flowers become fertilised, and they produce their seeds.
When grown wild, purslane can be more pungent with an intense flavour. However, when cultivated, they’re sweeter. When they’re grown in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 10, they usually grow more upright with larger leaves.
Unfortunately, not everyone seems to like purslane. In some parts of the UK, cultivating this plant is not encouraged. The USDA considers purslane as a noxious weed.
How To Propagate Purslane
Most gardening enthusiasts in the UK choose to propagate purslane from seed. However, you can choose to grow them from stem cuttings or transplants. No wonder these plants are such super spreaders!
Trying to find purslane seeds or plants at the local UK nursery may be a challenge. However, once you’ve bought some seeds to get started, you won’t ever need to purchase more seeds again because a single purslane plant can produce more than 50,000 seeds within its lifetime.
If you plan to sow the seeds outdoors, make sure that you wait until the last frost has passed and the temperature of the soil has reached approximately 60˚F. Sow them onto moist soil by sprinkling the seeds and pressing them in ever so lightly. Avoid covering them because one needs to let them expose to sunlight to germinate.
You can expect the seedlings to sprout after 7 to 10 days after you plant them. As soon as you see them produce a few true leaves, you may thin them to about 8 inches apart.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to start seeds indoors, make sure that you do so at least three weeks before the last frost to make sure that all risk of frost has passed. Once they’ve grown one set of true leaves, you may transplant them. They’d need to be hardened off for a couple of days before you can plant them out in your backyard UK garden.
Before you plant them out, expose them to the sun for one additional hour each day of the week. Should you decide to place them in a sheltered area such as your patio, make sure that your young seedlings won’t stay exposed to the sun for too long.
Did you know that each purslane stem can create a new version of itself? If you choose to propagate purslane from stem cuttings, use a sharp knife or a pair of scissors to cut a stem from its parent plant. It’s best to maintain the cutting’s length at about 6 inches and remember to get rid of the leaves from the bottom half of the stem.
Next, you may use potting soil to plant the stem onto. Bury half of the stem underground and place it in an area where it can get bright and indirect light. Make sure that the soil is kept moist but not to the point where it’s waterlogged.
A week after you plant them, you’ll begin to see your cutting’s first few signs of growth. By this time, it should remain stable enough to hold firm in the potting soil as you give the plant a gentle tug. You may transplant the purslane at this point.
You may cut pieces of the stem, with each piece measuring about an inch. Bury these stems entirely at about 1/4 inches deep into the British garden soil. You should be able to see your new plants popping out in a few weeks.
When you’re transplanting purslane, all you need to do is to dig it up with the use of a trowel. While you’re at it, be sure to keep the plant’s roots and stems attached. Next, you may dig a new hole that’s about twice the size of the plant’s root ball.
As you place the uprooted plant in the hole, make sure that you set it no more profound than one has previously planted it. The next step is to use dirt to fill the hole back in.
Grow Your Plants In a Hobby Greenhouse!
Now that you’ve finally figured out how to propagate purslane through these three different methods, it’s about time that you consider trying your hand at polytunnel gardening. Aside from protecting your plants from inclement weather, destructive insects, and animals, a hobby polytunnel also allows you to extend your plants’ growing season by creating an optimal growing environment. Experience the benefits of growing your plants in a hobby greenhouse!