Portulaca Winter Care

Portulaca is a vigorous, warm-season annuals with pretty flowers ranging from pink to red or purple. In the autumn, ersatz papyrus plants become dormant and start to wither. Some plants will die back completely; others will simply turn brown and stay relatively sturdy for the winter.

Sunlight is an important factor in how long a portulaca plant will stay green in fall; low-growing cultivars will be the first to wither, while taller varieties may retain their rich color for a few more weeks.

Can Portulaca survive winter?

Yes, but only as a houseplant. Take cuttings if you want to grow this plant again next year. Stem cuttings of portulaca in November or December will root quickly in a glass of water on a windowsill.

While portulaca is usually grown from seed, the seeds will not germinate until the following spring — so if your papyrus plants don’t die back completely before frost, they’ll need to be covered with mulch or otherwise protected from the elements during winter. In this case, grow portulaca from seed in spring and transplant seedlings outdoors after the danger of frost has passed.

In the South, plant portulaca in the fall for flowers next summer. In the North, sow seeds in spring and transplant outdoors after danger of frost has passed.

Most varieties are full sun annuals, although you can grow portulaca is a half-shade perennial in a container on an east-facing windowsill. The plants need good drainage; they don’t tolerate wet soil. Feed plants once or twice during the growing season with a balanced houseplant food like Miracle-Gro® Professional Choice® Indoor Plant Food. Keep plants moist but not soggy.

Snip off spent blooms to prolong bloom time and encourage more flowers.

Is Portulaca cold hardy?

Portulaca is not hardy enough to survive outdoors in frost. Although it’s treated as an annual, in the South, portulaca self-seeds and will return year after year.

Can Portulaca survive frost?

Portulaca survives a light frost, but it dies if the temperature drops below freezing. North of zone 8, plant portulaca plants in a container and bring them indoors for the winter.

Portulaca is usually grown as an annual from seed. Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected frost date for your region in flats that have been pre-moistened with warm water. Sow seeds ¼-inch deep and cover with 1/8 inch of soil. Keep the seeds moist until they germinate (in about two weeks).

Do Portulacas need sun?

Portulacas are warm-season annuals. They need full sun to flower well. If you want your portulaca to flower, plant it in a sunny area near a south or west-facing window. It will appreciate the heat.

Plant in full sun. Give plant morning sun only for half of the day and afternoon shade for the rest of the day (in winter).

As you see, Portulacas can survive with or without some sunshine as long as they are kept from freezing temperatures, which is why you will find many references that describe them as “cold hardy.

When should I plant portulaca?

Portulacas need six to eight weeks of warm weather to flower. (This varies depending on the type of portulaca, where you live in the country, and your climatic conditions.)

If you plant Portulacas in the fall, they will not flower until next year.

You can start plants indoors from seeds anytime after the last frost until about 3 months before your area’s first expected frost for spring flowering.

If you live in an area with a long growing season or if your winters are mild, then you can sow seeds all year long for continuous blooms. Most portulaca varieties require a nighttime temperature of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit before they will germinate.

Can I bring portulaca indoors?

You can bring portulacas indoors to be grown as houseplants, but you need to know what type of portulaca you have. Is it a trailing variety or one that grows upright?

Portulacas should be brought inside before temperatures drop below 40 degrees F. (With the exception of “Early Sunrise” which is hardy in zones 7-10 and can tolerate frost.)

In colder zones, move your plants indoors, or if you already have them in pots, bring the containers into a protected area such as a porch or other place that will shield them from cold winds. This kind of protection is particularly important for trailing varieties and those with finer leaves.