Plant of the Month – October, 2007
Portulaca grandiflora ‘Samba’ series
Most Texas gardeners are familiar with purslane and moss rose, both common bedding plants for our hot summers. Seldom, though, do I see the giant-flowered form used, which is a shame since it may be the most vigorous and heaviest-flowering of the group.
Portulaca grandiflora ‘Samba’ has nearly 3-inch-wide flowers that are produced in unbelievable numbers. The plants form prostrate mats of dark green, succulent, pointy foliage that spreads to 3 feet. Its spreading habit also makes it a perfect trailing plant for containers or hanging baskets.
This is one of the few annuals that I would truly call drought-tolerant. It will grow and flower even with extremely low amounts of water. Like all portulaca and purslane, this plant has few pest or disease problems. Just make sure the soil stays well-drained, which shouldn’t be a problem during our dry, hot summers!
My favorite color is ‘Samba Rose,’ but you may prefer the white, purple, pink or bicolor forms. I can only find one major fault with this plant: The flowers close up about 6 p.m. Even so, I still love it. I wouldn’t recommend planting your whole flowerbed with it, but if you need a quick groundcover under some agaves, or an accent plant for that hanging basket that keeps drying out, or perhaps a plant that will spill over that rock wall, then this is your plant.
Check local nurseries for the ‘Samba’ series right now. They are usually available in quart-sized pots and hanging baskets. ‘Samba’ is also available via mail-order from many companies – just type the name into Google on your web browser.
If you would like to check this plant out in person first, you can see it at the Dallas Arboretum planted along the front of the All-America Selections Trial Garden. The Arboretum is located at 8525 Garland Road, overlooking White Rock Lake. For more information, visit www.dallasarboretum.org. For more information on the Dallas Arboretum plant trials please visit www.dallasplanttrials.org.
About the author: Jimmy Turner is the Director of Horticulture Research at the Dallas Arboretum. For more plant profiles by Jimmy, subscribe to Neil Sperry’s GARDENS Magazine.