Honest confession – I have killed plenty of flowers. Most garden flowers tend to be a bit fragile, and far too much so for our deck garden’s brutal conditions. This summer, I have spent half the summer struggling with some beautiful (though very water-needy) zinnias. They simply must be watered every single day, or they faint.
I have also gone through the usual routine of fostering equally sensitive (though highly useful) marigolds. Last summer, I had a brief and catastrophic experience with a bunch of petunias. They looked like they had been nuked within a couple days (despite my diligent watering efforts). They just couldn’t make it on the deck.
Then, one day at a nursery, Bruce picked up a weird stringy fleshy plant with bright purple flowers and decided he liked it. (He usually either has love-at-first sight reactions towards things or total disinterest). The “Ice Plant” came home with us.
I didn’t have high hopes for it. I had never heard of it first of all, and the tag informed me that it was a ground cover. I stuck it in a pot and planned to bury it quietly when it croaked.
To my great surprise, the plant survived the first few weeks. Then it started blooming lots of dramatic pink flowers! At that point I decided it deserved a bit more effort on my part, and I better read up on it. It turns out that Ice Plant (Delosprma cooperi) are succulents (cousins to cactus). Our hot, sunny deck is actually a great environment for them!
As soon as I figured that out, I went hunting for more. I found a plant that looked similar, but had delicate gorgeous little blooms like tea roses. I talked to the garden expert, and she informed me that they were “double” Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora). (There is also a “single” version called purslane.)
I brought home several and planted them in the (up till now) pathetic hanging baskets I had hung. They have bloomed like crazy with dozens of purple (ice plant) or multi-colored (moss rose) flowers, and they have looked lovely all summer long. And thye seem to do best when I only water them about once a week! Big thumbs up for these hardy flowers! I won’t fuss with the zinnias next year when I can plant these. Here are some additional pictures for you!
Moss Rose: (night shots)
Below are the demanding zinnias next to my hanging low-maintenance ice plant.
Another thing I loved about the ice plant and moss rose – they bloomed within days, and then kept on blooming new blossoms every 4 or 5 days all summer long. The zinnias grew without blossom for 8 or 9 weeks, and then bloom once per stem, and then die. Ugh!