How to care Portulaca (Moss Rose) in Winter?


Portulaca is commonly known as “Moss Rose”. It is one of the best flowering plants for summer. Every year I grow these in my garden and some on the terrace corners.

In summer, hundreds of colorful flowers bloom every day. These plants don’t need much attention in their favorable condition i.e., in Hot dry Summer days. But in Winters, maintaining Portulaca is really a tough job, especially if you live in frost-prone areas.

Portulaca loves dry well-drained soil. Actually, it is more like a succulent than any ordinary flowering plant.

A little bit of sand mixed with nutrient-rich soil is best for Moss Rose. If you need help in growing portulaca then you should read Portulaca (Moss rose) – How to Grow and Care? a complete guide for this purpose.

How to care portulaca in winter? – Keep the soil dry, Place the portulacas in partial shade and provide proper sunlight. Special care for Portulaca in winter- Don’t Over-water, Avoid excess water and remove dead flowers to protect your portulaca from rotting.

how to care portulaca in winter
How to care portulaca in winter?

Problems with Portulaca or Moss Rose in Winter

  1. Shortening of flower size. It is the first sign, winter is coming. You should prepare for winter at this stage.
  2. Yellowing of leaves. Due to lack of sunlight, the leaves of portulaca start yellowing and later it will fall apart. There are multiple other reasons for yellow leaves. Check your plant carefully.
  3. Buds will form but No bloom occurs. Reduced blooming in portulaca can be seen due to the lack of potassium in the soil. But in winter it is mainly due to a lack of proper temperature and sunlight.
  4. Rotting of Stems especially from the top. Stem rotting is very common with portulaca. There are many reasons for this problem. Excess of water, lack of temperature and sunlight is the most prominent of them all.
  5. Infestation- attack of pest and fungus. In winters portulaca is very prone to insect and pest attack. The lack of sunlight and excess of moisture in the soft stems attracts various sucker insects. White mildew and aphids are very common in portulaca in winters.

Caring Portulaca in Winter

1.Dead-heading Portulaca

The first and most important thing is the dead-heading of Portulaca. Believe it or not, Removing dead flowers and rotten stems are very essential for the survival of portulaca.

It may seem easy, I know. But sometimes it is the most tricky part. The stem of portulaca is very soft and fragile. You should be careful while picking the odd ones. Don’t break healthy stems.

how to grow portulaca grandiflora in containers
how to grow Portulaca Grandiflora in containers?

The dead flowers of portulaca is not a big problem. It will fall apart on its own. The bigger problem is the leftover, ie., the portion that contains the seeds. Here the insects and pests attack the plants. It should be clean of any infestation.

2.Reduce Over Watering in Winter

Watering is necessary for every plant but overwatering is the worst case of it.

In summer excess of water is managed by the hot sunny weather. Actually, the need for water for the portulaca plant in summer is also higher than in winter.

In winter, You should be quiet careful with watering especially with portulaca.  They can’t survive in extremely low temperatures. Overwatering can lead to a quick drop in temperature. Ultimately it can cause frequent root rot and in portulaca, the whole plant can rot.

3. Let the Soil Dry Completely

Dry soil is necessary for growing portulaca. In fact, portulaca starts root rot in damp soil. If you see any symptoms then its time to change the soil.

Else let the soil dry completely, believe me, your moss rose won’t die. Just sprinkle some water when it needs the most. If you are not sure, then put your finger in the soil, if you feel the moisture then wait for a day else water it.

4. Change the Soil

I personally recommend changing soil only if necessary. I can say this with my long experience, if you repot portulaca in winter, there is a fair chance of killing it.

So, generally, I do this just after the last rain, (before monsoon or just after it). If you see excessive rotting in portulaca in winter then only change the soil.

Alternatively, you can take the entire bunch out of pot or container carefully. This process needs some extra care but you can do it.

Portulaca is a sallow rooted plant so extra soil can be removed easily without damaging the plant. You can prepare the soil for repotting. It just needs some manure, dry soil, and sand or cocopeat.

 5. Prepare Mazic soil mix for winter

Portulaca needs warm and healthy soil specially for winter. I have tried so many soil mixes in the past that can’t be counted.

After so many trial and errors, I got the perfect mix for portulaca. It is best for winter flowers.

So, what to do…

how to grow portulaca from cuttings
how to grow portulaca from cuttings
  1. Take dry garden soil and mix half the amount of good quality compost in it.
  2. Add a little amount of fine wood ash. It will prevent fungal growth. It will provide some extra phosphorus to help root growth.
  3. If you are growing portulaca organically then the above two steps are enough for you. else you need something extra.
  4. Add a half teaspoon of Urea and quarter teaspoon of Potash with a quarter teaspoon of Superphosphate in the complete soil mix. Remember excess of these can burn any plant. Therefore avoid this step if you are new to inorganic fertilizers.
  5. An alternative is the use of any good quality fertilizer mix for cactus or succulents. You can try NPK-5:5:5, use only if necessary.
  6. Extra tip- Dry fry the soil mix for 10 minutes. After this let it cool for a few hours. This will minimize any chance of fungal growth in the soil. This process kills any insect or fungal spore present in the soil mix.

6. Don’t disturb the portulaca plants unnecessarily

This idea seems to contradict the above details but it is true. Despite all your effort, portulaca may show signs of damage in winter.

The best thing you can do is nothing. Yes, you are right, doing nothing is sometimes the best way to go.

If you don’t have enough time to maintain your portulaca in winter. Then the best way to protect them is by not disturbing them at all.

It may look dead but in spring, new branches will come out and portulaca will grow back again. So the best thing to do is to do nothing.

Final words

Caring portulaca in winter is not that easy but if you want, you can definitely do it. Just follow my personal experience and that’s it.

Just care for three things- Dry Soil, Proper Sunlight, and little care. Hope these things help you out. For anything else write down below in the comment section.

Sukant

Hi, My name is Sukant. I am an I.T professional. Gardening for me is not only a hobby, its a way of living life with nature. Due to my Family background as Commercial Farmers for more than 3 generations: I personally feel attached to the green. I am not an expert, I'm here just to share my 25 years of experience in gardening. Believe me Its always Refreshing.

13 thoughts on “How to care Portulaca (Moss Rose) in Winter?

  1. Should I cut back my portulaca before our child winter in the northeast..they are starting to look leggy and droppy

    1. Hi there,
      Portulaca is a summer-flowering plant. It cannot stand the freezing cold winter. So you should probably move the plants inside or you can cover the base with a thick layer of wood chips or any organic dry mulch. This will keep the plant root safe until next spring. DOn’t worry it will come back on its own.
      There is no need for pruning as it is a succulent kind of plant and will shed on its own in winter. So you should probably slow down feeding and watering these for winter.
      Reply back if I missed something. Good Day.

  2. I love my portulaca plants. In Boston we get cold winters and much snow. I cannot bring inside. Should I cut them back to ground and cover will hay will they come back?

    1. Hi Catherine,
      The Portulaca plant is very sensitive to cold weather. If you can’t bring it inside then, Take some healthy cutting and grow them in a small pot or container. This is a safe backup plan for next season. Next, you need not cut all the branches. just cover them with wood chips or peat moss to maintain the warmth. Overall this is a technique but this cannot guarantee 100% protection from snow. If anything goes wrong then use your backup plants for next season. I hope this is helpful, for anything else please write back.

  3. Hi Sukant,
    I have some lovely portulaca in a half barrel. For the summer they were growing like crazy and repopulated the flower bed around the barrel. Late summer and for most of the fall we have had rain, rain, rain. The soil in the barrel is wet with standing water. The ground is pretty damp as well. Will you please advise me on what to do with them for the coming winter? Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Amy,
      If your portulacas are good during summer then water is the only problem during the fall. You can try making some holes around the sides. The best option is to provide some buffer space between the roots and damp soil. Don’t worry, moving portulacas with rootball is very easy. just take it out in small blocks. Add some sand under it. Make an even layer of sand, at least a 3-5inch thick layer. Then carefully place the portulacas over it. The sand will keep the roots away from damp soil. Also, make enough holes to avoid waterlogging. Just 4-8 inches of dry soil is enough to grow portulaca, so take care of that as much as you can. Good day, and enjoy gardening.

  4. We are in St. Louis, MO and have cold, snowy winters. I have 3 large, lovely plants that spent the nicer months on my front porch. While I can bring them in, I don’t think I have enough sunny window space to keep them thriving. Should I bother trying to keep them alive, or is it a lost cause?

  5. We live in South West Connecticut and we have quite a few portulacas growing around the roses that we planted in the spring time, they were beautiful all summer and now the frost has hit them and they are all wilted, do I cut them back or just let them go and do nothing. We are hoping that they will come back next spring. We bought the plants and not the seeds and I spent quite a bit of money for all the plants as I wasn’t aware of the seeds. I can’t dig them all up, can you please tell me what I should do to save them as they will be all covered in snow soon, thank you.

    1. Hi Philip,
      The best option for you is the use of mulch. You can cover the base of portulaca with light cocopeat, sawdust, or peat moss to protect the roots and especially the seeds in the soil. Don’t use heavy wood chunks. Most probably the plant will not survive the snow and frost but the seeds will. As you said, it was good during summer, so there will be 1000s of seeds scattered in the soil. You just have to keep it safe till next spring. Don’t worry many new plants will grow from these seeds, just wait and do not disturb the soil.

  6. I have two portulacas in hanging baskets we have had a lot of rain they are looking a bit scraggy should I put them in the greenhouse thank you.tric

    1. Hey Tricia,
      Welcome to Gardenbagan. A greenhouse is the best option for portulacas. These plants need warm surroundings and this should be easy to maintain inside a greenhouse. Also, your portulacas are in a hanging basket so moving them inside is not a big problem. You can move them in and out whenever the environment fits the plant growth. Try these tweaks and keep reading Keep Gardening.

  7. I brought my portulaca inside and gets excellent sun, we had our first frost last week and went back to 70 degree weather but it looks great, except for the many little mosquitoes in the house. What can I do?

    1. Hi there,
      Just get some mosquito repellent plants to avoid any mosquitoes. You can easily grow mint, basil, or lemongrass to distract mosquitoes. It’s good to know that your portulacas are well inside. Keep gardening and please share your experience after following my suggestions.

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