The Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora) is a small and fast-growing annual. Originally native to Argentina, southern Brazil, and Uruguay, it is also found across South and South East Asia. It has a variety of names from Rock and Sun Rose to Time Flower (time fuul in Bangladesh) and Nine, Ten or Twelve O’Clock Flower (nau bajiya in India, hoa mười giờ in Vietnam and uru-alas dose in India respectively), the latter names referring to the fact the blooms close at night or on overcast days and open out fully in broad daylight.
It is a semi-succulent with fleshy green cylindrical leaves with pointed tips. They are up to 2.5 cm long and are arranged alternately around the multi-branched stem or in small clusters. The saucer-shaped flowers can be up to 3 cm in diameter and are located on the end of the stem and resemble a small open rose. Single blossoms have five petals but there are many cultivars with double flowers. The central stamens are yellow and the blossoms range across a wide variety of bright cheerful colours – yellow, orange, red, and bright pink, white and cream as well as more pastel colours. Some flowers are a single colour but others are variegated with random streaks of a second colour through the petal. The moss rose blossoms throughout summer and doesn’t require deadheading although some gardeners recommend pinching off the spent blossoms to encourage even more blooms.
Although the moss rose needs plenty of sunlight and well-drained soils it survives well with minimal attention. It can be killed by over watering apparently, not a fate that any plant is likely suffer in my garden. It spreads easily as the plants produce large numbers of seeds.
The moss rose is a relatively new addition to my garden, I planted eight seedlings last year and when they died off at the end of summer, I imagined that was the end of them. When I went to plant some more about two months ago, I was delighted to discover a couple of dozen tiny seedlings growing. I love any plant that can take care of itself and put on such a bright display. Next year I plan to do a mass planting in a small bed that receives direct sunlight all day.