Every spring I spend hours and hours planting annuals while pulling up the grasses and weeds that have encroached on the flower beds. Our budget doesn’t allow for annuals this year, so I’ve been rather lax in pulling the weeds. We ultimately decided to let the chickens free-range in the back yard and focus on planting shrubs the hens and tortoise (read: miniature elephant) won’t destroy. They’ve done a wonderful job keeping the ground of the flowerbeds under control, but there are a few plants they don’t care for – purslane is one.
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a prostrate, broad-leafed weed with fleshy leaves and small yellow flowers. The leaves are often tinged in red, with a darker line of red along the back, top edge of the older leaves. It reminds me of a succulent ground cover, though it doesn’t grow as thick as succulents usually do. It thrives in damp or dry conditions and grows in warm weather. Purslane pops up everywhere in the garden, but pulls easily from the ground so it isn’t difficult to control.
This year I had the chance to see purslane in flower and it’s very pretty. I’ve battled with trying to grow a nice, lush ground cover in my flower beds for years. Cinquefoil is beautiful and low growing, but it’s picky and doesn’t like the heat of my yard. Thyme didn’t really take of last year and the chickens and/or tortoise have taken care of most of what did manage to grow. And here pops up purslane – low growing, pretty flowers in the color I want, it’s low maintenance and loves the soil, water, and heat of my back yard. I’ve found my ground cover in a weed.