Purslane are a popular ornamental, but three newer series designated Texas Superstar releases take the plant to a new performance level, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Cupcake, Muffin and Rio Grande purslane series were named Texas Superstars because plants show so many good characteristics, said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, San Antonio.
“All these new selections bloom better, longer and are more heat resistant,” Rodriguez said. “They represent all the best qualities you can find in purslane.”
New on the market
The Cupcake Series performs well and has spreading and upright forms. The Muffin Series is a newer series with unusual colors such as a Silver Rose. The Rio Grande Series is more compact and spreads less.
The three series provide some very bright colors that are popular in the Lone Star State, Rodriguez said.
To be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must not only be beautiful but also perform well for consumers and growers throughout the state. Texas Superstars must be easy to propagate, which should ensure the plants are widely available and reasonably priced.
Rodriguez said purslane are an old-fashioned drought-tolerant plant that loves sun and heat. They are perfect for adding color in Texas gardens and landscapes.
Purslane makes a spreading groundcover with succulent leaves covered with flowers all summer long, Rodriguez said. The flowers have iridescent colors, which open with the sun and close at night.
The new, improved varieties provide a range of single-color and bicolor flowering ornamental plants.
For example, Cupcake Series purslane include bicolor varieties Strawberry Banana and Yellow Chrome. Single-color Cupcake varieties include Grape Jelly, Cherry Baby and Peach Carrot.
Strawberry Banana produces red flowers with white borders. Yellow Chrome are yellow with white borders. Grape Jelly is an iridescent purple-fuchsia color. Cherry Baby flowers are a deep red, and Peach Carrot have orange-to-peach colored blooms.
Purslane can add color anywhere
Purslane comes in spreading and upright forms. They are great for mass carpet bedding and edging for borders in landscapes. They are also a good spiller option in mixed containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. Growth will spill over the edge of raised beds.
“These improved varieties are versatile ornamental plants,” he said. “They are also great pollinators. That alone is an important feature for many gardeners.”
Flowers generally open during daylight hours though they may close somewhat earlier in extreme heat. Cupcake Cherry Baby is a cultivar that stays open a little longer during the day than others.
Maximize and maintain purslane
Purslane do best when planted in the spring but can be planted in the summer. Larger, more mature plants fare better when planting in the heat.
They require full sun for good flowering and prefer hot, dry locations, Rodriguez said.
Spreading types grow 4-10 inches tall, and upright types grow slightly taller. Purslane spreads 12-24 inches.
Plants perform as annuals in most parts of the state, he said. But they can be perennial in areas where temperatures never fall below freezing.
Purslane are tolerant of most soil types but need good drainage. It’s best to allow the soil to dry slightly between watering sessions. They act much like a succulent and bounce back quickly when watered.
Plants benefit from granulated fertilizer at planting, Rodriguez said.
“Purslane benefit from water-soluble fertilizer until they are well established and ready for the summer heat,” he said.
Rodriguez said most independent nurseries and major retailers will stock the new purslane varieties.
Interested growers should reach out
Rodriguez said commercial growers should reach out to Texas A&M AgriLife Research if interested in producing purslane. Researchers can provide guidelines for growing plants within production systems.
“Any grower interested in commercially producing these plants should contact us,” he said. “We’re always open to engaging with interested landscape and ornamental producers.”
Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by AgriLife Research, a state agency that is part of the Texas A&M University System. Plants are designated Texas Superstars by the Texas Superstar executive board. The board is made of nine AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and Texas Tech University horticulturalists.