The Perks of Growing Purslane

purslaneIf you have wild purslane invading your garden you are probably wondering why anyone would want to grow a cultivated version intentionally.

The short answer is because of how incredibly nutritious this plant is.

Although low in calories, purslane is very high in fiber, vitamins and omega-3′s. The ‘Golden’ cultivar has an almost lemony taste and goes well in salads and in juicing. It’s a wonderful green to feed your chickens as well, increasing the amount of omega 3′s in their eggs.

The down side is its tendency to want to take over the world.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Cultivated purslane is not nearly as invasive as its wild relative, but it will reseed itself with abandon. As we understand it, purslane will shoot its seed quite a distance.

So if you are concerned about it spreading, but would like to have the nutritional benefits of this plant, growing it indoors is one solution. Another would be to cover it with some shade cloth during the seed production time.

Simply cutting off the flowers when it blooms will not only prevent seed production, it will make the plant bushier.

Purslane is very easy to remove though, unlike many plants that can be invasive. Even the wild version gives no resistance when you pull on it.

The leaves, stems, flowers and even those seeds are edible. We have found the stems are better juiced or steamed; the leaves we have been enjoying fresh. The plan now is to try our hand at growing it indoors over the winter. Come spring, we’re also going to give it its own bed in the garden, where it can reseed itself to its heart’s delight, and we will never need to plant it again.

You have got to love ‘forever’ plants.

Botanical name: Portulaca oleracea

Height: 12-14″

Hardiness: Plant outdoors after the last spring frost; purslane does not tolerate the cold.

Spacing: If you are growing it in the ground, give the plants about 8″ between them. It does well in a container too.

Gardening Jones is a master gardener in Pennsylvania. Learn more at gardeningjones.com/blog.
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Learn about more edible “weeds” and much more in The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants or The Forager’s Guide to Wild Foods.

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