Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pretty pictures: Portulaca grandiflora

I am firmly convinced that Portulaca grandiflora is the best blooming annual of all time, period, full stop, and nothing you could do or say could ever convince me otherwise. So don't even try. And yes, I'm including Gazanias in that assessment. Gazanias wish they could be as cool as Portulaca.

I neglected to start them indoors, so the first blooms didn't appear until late June; this was the very first, on June 24, and includes a bonus fly of some kind:

There has been a satisfyingly large number of orange blooms:

I've caught a glimpse of a single (so far) green metallic bee again this year, unlike last year:

as well as a handful of other pollinators, mostly the tiny black bees from this post, though I didn't get any pictures of those.

We also have, for the first time, some Portulaca growing around the oak trees in the front yard (on purpose), which include this pink-on-pink speckled bloom:

I'm skipping the marigolds (Tagetes) this year, for a number of reasons.

The Tagetes crowded out the Portulaca by the end of the year, attracted lots of whiteflies, and although they bloomed constantly, I don't like the blooms as well. Granted, I've seen lots of tiny grasshoppers in the bed, which I don't know for sure that that's not related to the Portulacas.

Grasshoppers is the best explanation I have for what happened to this one, though I admit that I don't know for sure. . . .

The bloom colors are a lot more varied than Tagetes, if nothing else.

Oh, and yeah -- a few pictures up, that's a red clover (Trifolium pratense) in the bed with them. (One at the front on the right, and another in the back left corner.) It also gets big and sort of crowds out the Portulacas, and attracts pests (rabbits?), and the color doesn't really go with the Portulacas, but I've always kind of admired T. pratense, so when I saw a couple coming up at the beginning of the spring, I thought why not, what could it hurt, and let them grow. It's possible that I'll come to regret this, as I eventually regretted letting the Oenothera biennis stay, three years ago. But it's okay for now. The clover even turns out to be mildly fragrant, which I didn't realize. (One possible shortcoming of Portulaca is their lack of fragrance.)

In any case, I feel like I only have just so much energy to devote to outdoor plants, and this bed is a good size for me to keep weeded and stuff. Also Portulaca won't all collapse the first time it gets dry, it's happy to bloom continuously for about four or five months, and it self-sows even when I don't go to the trouble of gathering the seeds.

Though obviously I'm gonna gather the seeds.

In conclusion, Portulaca is a land of contrasts the best.


Liza said...

Such a gorgeous flower bed!

I love my Portulaca, I really do, but I've been noticing this year's batch is the laziest flower in my garden. They sleep late, sometimes not opening until 9 or 10am, and then they are closed again by 1 or 2 in the afternoon!

I see other people's Portulacas blooming all day and I think, "my, what industrious flowers they have." And then I'm a little jealous.

Ginny Burton said...

Did you sow the portulaca, or did it come up from last year's self-sown seeds? I sprinkled two packet around my cannas and got not a single sprout.

mr_subjunctive said...

Ginny Burton:

Both. When I saw some of the seeds from last year beginning to come up, I sowed some that I'd saved from last year in the spots that didn't seem to have any.