How to Plant and Grow Moss Rose

Moss rose is an ideal plant when you need to cover hot, sunny ground.

If you need to cover hot and sunny ground, look no further than moss rose! Whether you call it moss rose, portulaca, or purslane, this plant is tough as nails and can stand up to almost anything. With a trailing habit and nonstop bloom power, it looks great in many settings.

The blossoms of moss rose usually come in vibrant jewel tones, but mild pastel options are also available. There are also flowers with "broken color," where a solid colored petal is streaked randomly with a secondary color or the outside of the petal is one color with a splash of a second color in the center—it's truly unique!

Blooms are typically single flowers with five petals and a pom-pom of yellow stamens in the center, but there are semi-double blossoms that have a few extra rows of petals. You can also find fully double flowers with a flurry of petals together and no visible stamens in the center.

These plants are adapted to dry conditions, so they have fleshy, succulent leaves and stems. The leaves store water for use in dry conditions and may even up their stems to help with water loss. The leaves on moss roses differ, too. Some varieties are needle-like, while others are more paddle-like in shape.

All parts of moss rose are toxic to dogs and cats, so don't plant them near areas frequented by pets.

Moss Rose Overview

Genus Name Portulaca spp.
Common Name Moss Rose
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
Height 4 to 12 inches
Width 6 to 16 inches
Flower Color Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover

Where to Plant Moss Rose

Moss rose is an extremely easy plant to grow. It is an annual in USDA zones 3-9 but can be grown as a perennial in zones 10 and 11. The biggest thing to consider when planting moss rose is location. Moss rose hates wet areas, and one of the few ways to kill this plant is by overwatering it.

How and When to Plant Moss Rose

Plant moss rose seeds or seedings in early spring after the last frost. Seeds can be started indoors four to eight weeks before the last frost date. Select a location that receives full sun and has well-draining soil for the best results.

Dig a hole about the same width and depth as the planting container. Remove the plant and loosen the roots a bit from the root ball before placing in the hole. Backfill with soil, tamp lightly, and water well. Space moss rose plants 6 to 12 inches apart.

Moss Rose Care Tips


Moss rose plants need full sun to look their best—about six to eight hours a day.

Soil and Water

Water the plants sparingly. Moss roses are adapted to dry, desert-like conditions. Because of this, it may take them a little time to get going in a cool, moist spring—but once the summer heat kicks in, these plants will be off to the races! Moss rose also grows well in slightly salty soil.


Moss rose plants typically don't need fertilizer to thrive, but you can use a time-release balanced fertilizer when you plant moss rose.


Another great thing about this plant is that it doesn't require any deadheading. Moss roses keep blooming all season long with no additional care needed. However, the plants produce large amounts of seed, so you may see volunteers coming back each year if you plant them once. Fortunately, it's easy to weed out any unwanted seedlings.

Pest and Problems

Deer aren't usually attracted to moss rose plants, but aphids and slugs are sometimes a problem. The biggest problem—stem and root rot—occurs when the plant receives too much water or is in soil that drains poorly.

How to Propagate Moss Rose

The easiest way to propagate moss rose plants is to take cuttings from the plants before that first frost in the fall. Remove the leaves from the bottom third of the cuttings and plant them in a sterile planting medium. Put them in a warm place indoors.

You can also grow moss rose from seeds after the weather warms above 70°F. Sow them in well-draining soil and keep them moist for about 10 days. You should see growth between seven and 14 days later.

Types of Moss Rose

'Sundial Fuchsia' Moss Rose

Sundial Fuchsia Moss Roses
Peter Krumhardt

Portulaca 'Sundial Fuchsia' offers bold magenta-pink on compact, heat-resistant plants.

'Sundial Peppermint' Moss Rose

Sundial Peppermint Moss Rose
Marty Baldwin

Portulaca 'Sundial Peppermint' offers white blooms liberally striped with hot pink.

'Sundial White' Moss Rose

Sundial White Moss Rose
Justin Hancock

Portulaca 'Sundial White' bears showy double white blooms all summer long.

'Sundial Yellow' Moss Rose

Sundial Yellow Moss Rose
Marty Baldwin

Portulaca 'Sundial Yellow' bears showy double golden-yellow blooms all summer.

Moss Rose Companion Plants


moss rose nasturtiums
Peter Krumhardt

Nasturtiums are versatile. They grow easily from seed sown directly in your garden's poorest soil and bloom all season until frost—and they are never greedy about food or fertilizer. Nasturtiums are available in either spreading or climbing types. Plant spreading types in large containers to spill over the sides or alongside wide paths to soften the sides for a romantic look. Use nasturtium to brighten a rock garden or between paving stones. Plant them at the edges of beds and borders to fill in between other plants and add soft, flowing color. Train climbing types up trellises or alongside fences. The leaves and flowers are edible; use them as a showy plate garnish or to jazz up salads.


moss rose pink zinnias butterfly
Peter Krumhardt

Want fast color for just pennies? Plant zinnias! A packet of seeds will fill an area with gorgeous flowers in an amazing array of shapes and colors—even green! And it will happen in just weeks. There are dwarf types of zinnias, tall types, quill-leaf cactus types, spider types, multicolor, special seed blends for cutting, special blends for attracting butterflies, and more. Zinnias are so highly attractive to butterflies that you can count on having these fluttering guests dining in your garden every afternoon. To attract the most, plant lots of tall red or hot pink zinnias in a large patch. 'Big Red' is especially nice for this, and the flowers are outstanding and excellent for cutting. Zinnias grow quickly from seed sown right in the ground and do best in full sun with dry to well-drained soil.

Sweet Potato Vine

moss rose sweet potato vine
Peter Krumhardt

Among the most popular container-garden plants, sweet potato vine is a vigorous grower that you can count on to make a big impact. Its colorful foliage, in shades of chartreuse or purple, accents just about any other plant. Grow a few together in a large pot, and they'll make a big impact all on their own. Sweet potato vines do best during the warm days of summer and prefer moist, well-drained soil. They thrive in sun or shade.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long do moss rose plants flower?

    Moss rose plants begin blooming about 45 days after planting and may continue to bloom for up to 90 days when they are grown in optimal conditions. The annual plant dies at the first frost. Lots of bright sunlight is needed for an extended bloom season.

  • Do moss rose plants reseed themselves?

    Many moss rose plants reseed themselves in late fall, so you may have a new crop every spring. Deadhead the plant in early fall if you don't want it to reseed in the garden.

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  1. Moss Rose, ASPCA

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