Moss Rose Help

luisito8m(9)January 11, 2012


I apologize if this post in on the wrong section, I did my best to find the most "suitable" category.

I will be planting my first batch of Moss Rose, I am new to gardening and I have a couple of questions, I hope you guys share your expertise with me. I will be planting them under my pepper plants (next month I harvest my first batch), I have my pepper plants on 8" pots and I would like to add some color, plus after some research, Moss Rose is super tough, plus I really fell in love with this flower.

I've not even opened the packet but it sounds like the seeds are extremely tiny, perhaps like oregano.

1.- How many seeds should I plant? I don't want to kill my pepper plants.

2.- How much will I get from 1 seed? Enough to fill up 1 pot?

3.- How long will the root be at its maximum? This will tell me if I plant them directly into the pepper pot, or transplant from smaller pots.

4.- My pepper plants have aphids and miners. I do take care of them, but they always return, I have the population controlled, no chemicals, I just knock them down with water. Will those little buggers affect my moss rose?

5.- The packet says "minimal watering", I like on arid/crazy hot climate so I water my peppers a lot. Will too much water kill the moss rose? Based that it only needs little moisture?

6.- I fertilize my peppers every weekend. Miracle Grow for Tomato plants and vegetables. Will this affect my moss rose?

7.- Packet says to start planting on March-June, can I start now? I'm very excited! Hehe. :P

I know its a lot, but I am barely learning. I deeply thank you for your time!

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It sounds as if your "moss rose" is Portulaca. It's a very versatile annual. I've used them extensively in hot pots for summer color. As long as the soil is well drained in your pepper pots, watering shouldn't be an issue. They don't require a lot of fertilizer, but can handle it as long as it's applied properly (sufficient water, water before and after application to prevent burning with too much salt, etc.) and the fertilizer you use is "tomato type" where there is the right percentage to encourage flowering (more phosphorous, less nitrogen) instead of green growth.

You've stated your peppers are in 8" pots. No, I don't think there is enough pot room for other plants. 8" pots are barely enough to produce a good crop of edible peppers. Adding other plants to that small of a pot will greatly increase the water needs of that pot due to too many roots. You'll have to water significantly more frequently and very possibly produce fewer pepper fruit. You may also increase the aphid problem, too. The plants will be more stressed due to lack of enough water. Stressed plants attract insects more than unstressed ones. It's as if insects are one of Nature's methods of eliminating ill or otherwise weakened plants.

If you want more color, add more 8" pots to be grown around your peppers and only put a few seeds in each pot. Too many will be pretty and dense for a little while, but will quickly result in overcrowded, stressed plants which won't perform well for you. Fortunately, Portulaca seed are inexpensive and readily available, so even if you do everything wrong, you won't be out much. You can always reuse the potting soil and start over.

Your Portulaca actually has nothing to do with "roses", no matter what the common name might lead you to think. The flower form resembles that of roses to some, hence the common name. It's a succulent annual, related to several common "weeds" you probably would know from gardening. Think of it more like an annual ice plant. Hope it helps. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Moss Rose - Portulaca grandiflora

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 2:15PM
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Indeed, the one i have is Portulaca. Amazing advice by the way!

Haha, that is how newbie to this I am, I thought they were some kind of miniaturized roses.

I was wondering, if I get bigger pots, would this resolve the issue?? 10"? 12"?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 3:35PM
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You're welcome! Hey, we're all virgins at everything, once. Some things we remain virgin at forever. I don't think even a 12" pot would be sufficient. Perhaps something closer to 20" or larger, if you can accommodate those sizes, would be better.

Your focus with the peppers is to raise fruit. The best fruit will come from plants which have all the resources they want/need when they want/need it. Stressing them will result in limiting either the quantity, size or quality (or all three!) and putting them in too small pots, or overcrowding them in their pots are two really easy ways to induce stress. I'd think your peppers would be best in at least 18" pots, each. Not that you can't grow them in smaller ones, but they won't be as heavily bearing nor will the fruit be as large and plentiful. You'll also need to water a whole lot more frequently in smaller pots as they're going to dry out much faster than larger ones will. The smaller ones will also bake in the heat faster and worse when it gets hotter.

I don't know what the circumstances are, but if you can handle the larger (20" or better) pots, preferably plastic or foam to keep cost, weight and heat transfer reduced, your peppers will be much healthier and productive. They'll hold between watering longer and won't suffer from heat stress as quickly or easily. You may even see a reduction in your aphid infestation as they are attracted to yellow pigments and your peppers are likely not as dark a green color as they could be with more soil and water. Stressed plants, as I said, will attract insects more readily than unstressed ones, so you just may not have them quite as badly.

In the larger pots, you could put a couple of the Portulaca in with the peppers with much greater success. I don't think I'd put more than three or four in the 18"-20". Larger ones (22" and larger) give you more room in which to plant and play. I usually plant a creeping rosemary (to shield the pot from direct sun as it cascades over the side), six to eight Italian basil and an Italian parsley in a 24" pot at a friend's house each spring. The rosemary is woody enough to remain, the others are replaced as they burn out to keep the pot fresh. That pot gets three-quarters of a day's sun on a hot patio and is watered three to four times a week to keep things pushing. That's a lot of roots in that large soil mass, but they provide a lot to eat from such a small space. Kim

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 5:21PM
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seil zone 6b MI

Kim's advice is always good! I will only add that protulacas self seed and spread readily. I don't know where you're planning to put these pots but if there is any soil anywhere around them they will pop up in it in no time. But nice pepper plants with an underlying bed of them sounds lovely!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 8:44PM
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Wow Kim, you must be a master at this, really awesome advices. Thanks for teaching me so well! :D

Now I find myself on Amazon looking for huge pots.. :P

I visited my local nursery and Moss Rose looks beautiful when you put it on a pot along another plant, there is where I got the idea. The guy at the nursery had a tree on a pot, with a huge pink/redish moss rose, extremely thick. If I recall correctly, it looked more like a 20ish size pot, which amazed me, because he had a nice healthy tree in it.

Now I regret getting those 8" clay pots from him, they were expensive.

Where I live, its melting hot all the time (with the exception of our ridiculous 3 day winter, sarcastically speaking), people that just moved here have to remain in doors all the time, because for them it is impossible to stand outside. So I realized I should give my plants some help for their first hot season, after realizing how tough moss ross was, I got the seeds.

So far my pepper is.. 5 months old, 1 foot tall, with 13-15 beautiful peppers. I can accommodate 20 inch pots, but I am trying to picture how it would look, don't you think that is too much? Little plant, huge pot. Forgive my newbiness :P

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 9:36PM
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Thanks, Seil, and you're welcome Luis. As I said, we are all new at everything once. Bring those peppers to great fruit and you'll be the legend of your family and neighborhood! For most of us, "the expert" is the person who knows one more thing about the subject than we do. Believe me, I've killed MANY plants, and in working in retail nursery related businesses for many years, I've seen even more "mistakes".

Since heat sounds like a real issue where you are, please save yourself heartache and back strain. Buy plastic of foam pots only. I'm not sure exactly where you are as you don't list it on your profile page, nor whether you're putting the pots on the ground, a patio or balcony, but heat absorption and radiation is an enormous problem in high heat areas with pots.

Terra cotta (clay) and ceramic pots are cooking utensils. Those two materials absorb heat from the air and direct sun, then hold it for long periods, radiating it into the soil ball, cooking out the water and literally cooking the roots. That will quickly kill the plants inside. Plastic heats up, but not to the extent the two other types will, and the plastic begins releasing that heat as soon as the direct sun moves from it. Foam pots are like ice chests. They insulate the soil and roots from temperature extremes far better than any other material other than concrete and wood.

If there are either Home Depot, Lowe's or other large home improvement stores around your area, you should be able to find lower cost pots of either plastic or foam there. They may not be as pretty, and they may not last quite as long as a high quality terra cotta or ceramic pot, but they will support plant growth much more successfully in high heat situations. If you're putting them on a balcony, plastic and foam are tremendously lighter in weight, which will not only save your back, but be safer on a higher story.

If you're in a hot area, you very likely have rather alkaline, salty water. If you have to put saucers under the pots to prevent damage to the balcony or patio surface, you'll be better off by putting gravel in the saucers so the bottoms of the pots are elevated above the drained water. Salts from the water itself, and salt from the fertilizer (ALL fertilizers either are salt, or are digested into salt forms) can accumulate and build up to the point they damage and eventually kill the plants. If you've ever raised house plants and noticed the crust that builds up on the potting soil surface, or builds up in the saucer and sides of the pot, you've seen it. Permitting water to flush through the soil and not be drawn back up into it will prevent salt build-up to toxic levels. If your water isn't salty, then you only have the fertilizer salts to contend with.

I understand your concern comparing how the potted trees looked to what you expect your peppers to look like. But, they're for different purposes. Often, a potted tree is a landscape element, even on a patio or balcony. You're not "landscaping", you're raising food (presumably, unless you've planted ornamental peppers). In really large pots, you could even grow types of sun flowers for height with the peppers and portulaca under and around them. If you're primarily interested in the peppers for eating and want the portulaca flowers for their beauty, they should be and look fine in larger pots. It all depends upon what your goals are for planting them in the first place. A tree is a more permanent planting. Your peppers and portulaca are "annuals" which have to be replaced each year (usually). If you find they look odd to you, plant other taller things in some with the peppers in others. Several pots with vegetables in them could actually look quite interesting and pretty. Feel free to mix other annual flowers with your vegetables. You can also put in cooler weather vegetables and annuals for your three day winter. I laughed at that one. Our winter here in Los Angeles had a few colder days, but has been up to the mid eighties recently. Too cold for the tomatoes but the roses and other flowers are blooming like weeds.

Seil is correct, portulaca can self seed anywhere they find suitable conditions. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, particularly since you like the look and colors of the flowers. They're easily weeded out if they come up where you don't want them and can be really pretty when they pop up somewhere unexpected. I hope it helps. Kim

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 10:27PM
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Geez, you really leave me speechless.

I just updated my profile page. I tried to do my best, so you can take a look now and you will see something. I didn't know we had profiles until I found a post called Adopt-A-Newbie couple of minutes ago, I hope I get accepted and someone adopts me. :)

I will try to respond in order of your paragraphs, keeping things organized.

I know everyone has mistakes, especially when learning something, you should of seen me posting here a month ago about my peppers getting aphids and miners, I had no idea what those things were called, nor how to kill them, I was freaked out, very freaked out. I am glad there are a lot of kind people like you Kim, they taught me a lot and helped me realize this things happen, and many others.

I live in Mcallen, TX a small city near the border of U.S./Mexico, I am zone 9. The climate is insane, hot and humid, eww. Our highest heat is during the summer, we reach 110F. We have a small cement walkaway along the garden, thats the place I put my 2 pots, if you wish to picture it, as you stand in front of my house you will see the garden, then the 3 feet wide walkaway, then the front house wall.

How silly of me! Of course clay absorbs tons of heat! How could I forgotten?! I tried googling foam pots, I am not sure I am looking at the right ones, do you mind proving me a link?

I will visit Home Depot tomorrow, will take a look at the big pots, I need to buy Safer for all the aphids living at my pepper's condo. Lol.

The soil from my garden is quite rough I've been trying to make it come more alive, been working on it, no idea what type of soil I have, but I visited my local nursery and bought a huge bag of healthy good looking soil that they guy recommended me for my pepper pots. I don't use a saucer but when water flushes out the pots, it has a brownish/redish/orange color, it stained the cement. I told myself, that must be the good nutrients from the soil escaping the pot.

I currently have some projects, 3 seeds of Green Husk Tomatillo just germinated (I smuggled a tomatillo from Mexico and dried the seeds myself, this is a HUGE accomplishment! The taste is so WOW), my coriander is germinating too(traded some of my unique mexican-tomatillo seeds for cilantro), and I am just missing to buy white onions seeds to be able to make my own green salsa. Today I bought the moss rose and tomato from Ferry Morse.

Thanks so much once more!!!!!!

I apologize if this conversation is taking many directions. But free to email me if you wish to, since I posted on the wrong section I don't want people to get mad, specially if this forum has moderators.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 11:41PM
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Luis, no problem! We often go afield of the original intended thread subjects, and you just MIGHT find a rose you'd like to grow!

I don't have links to foam planters, but you will find them at Lowe's and Home Depot, as well as HDR (high density resin) and plastic pots. The foam are lightest in weight and can look like many other materials. You'll know it's foam when you pick it up as it is so light. Punching holes through the bottoms is very easy. You can literally do it with a kitchen butter knife. From your description of where you'll be placing them, the foam is going to stay the coolest, with the resin and plastic coming in second.

Look around for some stones, stepping stones or bricks so you can lift the pots off the concrete. It will improve the drainage under your pots and might reduce the ring the water under the pots can leave on the concrete. It doesn't have to be really high, just an inch or so off the surface. Just make them level so the water soaks in evenly and drains well.

Safer is a good product, but be careful. Insecticidal soap is lard, fat. Fat is an oil which is solid at room temperature. Spray oil on any kind of plant foliage when it's hot and you can burn the devil out of it. The oil seals the pores of the leaves, trapping water in them. In the hot air and hot sunlight, the water expands and ruptures the cell walls. The leaves burn, turn yellow and fall off. The same can happen to the fruit.

Aphids like greenhouse conditions, meaning humid, moist, mild. When it gets hot and dry, they move on. How long should it realistically be until it is HOT there? The insecticidal soap can remain on the foliage easily for six weeks, sometimes more. If you're expecting hot sun and temps in the eighties or higher within that time, you might experience foliage burn from the "soap".

What you can try also is washing them off with a stream of water. Use your fingers to help dislodge them from the plants as you rinse them off. You'll drown many, some you won't and you'll have to do it weekly until it gets too hot for them to keep them more under control. Of course, it's totally your choice whether or not to spray. But, if it's going to get really hot in the next six or so weeks, be prepared for the foliage burn possibility.

You can mix the peppers and tomatillos with cilantro in the pots to make them even prettier. Mixing plant types can also help repel insects. Cilantro, like parsley, can be quite a pretty filler among flowers, so get creative and mix them up. Pepper, cilantro and portulaca, then tomatillo cilantro and portulaca would make very pretty planters outside your front door.

Now, an even more fun know the onions you buy at the grocery store to cook with? The green ones you use the leaves and bulb of? The next time you buy some, leave a little more above the roots when you cut them, then take the roots out and plant them. They'll grow new onions. I haven't bought new onions for some time because I plant the roots each time they get pulled up for use, or I'll just cut off what I want from the plant and leave the roots in place. Of course, you can buy seeds, sets or even started ones at the nursery, but you don't HAVE to. The roots from the ones at the grocery store work just as well and give you as good an onion. Best part, the roots are virtually FREE. You've bought the onions to eat and you'd usually throw them away. Plant them, instead and they're free! I LIKE free! LOL!

You're very welcome! Find the pots you like and will look OK where you need them. Plant your vegetable and flower "gardens" and get ready to be the talk of the town. You'll have to take 'baby pictures' once they get going to show us all how you've done. Have fun! Kim

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 1:05AM
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I found the HDR pots! I went to lowes and I really like it. What do u think? 20.5 inches!

I couldn't find Safer, but I bought Garden Safe for Fruits and Vegetables, I hope it works, its a light greenish spray container. Before that I had been doing what you suggested, I had them controlled by flushing them out with the hose, but seems they got smarter and moved from the leaves to those small areas where all leaves unify, so they were quite protected and multiplying like rabbits. I decided to spray them.

For now I am safe, it seems that this years our ridiculous winter got affected, so it might last 1 and 1/2 months until the heat kicks in. Had to take my baby tomatillo plants inside.

Do you think that I should start planting my Moss Ross already? The packet says till April.

Here is a link that might be useful: HDR Pot

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 10:12PM
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Congratulations! You'll love how much lighter they are and how they won't cook your plants as easily. If you probably won't have any "freezing" weather, you can plant the portulaca. Or, you can wait until closer to April. The warmer it is, the faster they'll germinate and you don't want them to freeze once they start to come up. When does that make it sound you should plant? Kim

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 10:43PM
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Campanula UK Z8

just a thought as I grow around 20 sweet peppers in my greenhouse. I only use 5litre pots for each plant as I expect to get around 4/5 good peppers from each one. What I also do is place a smaller pot inside a bigger pot (black plastic) as the gap between the 2 pots seems to prevent the worst temperature excesses. Some years, I even stuff the space with wet newspaper. I am starting this years peppers right now as they need a good 6month growing period in the UK and can only be grown under glass. They are pest magnets - the worst of everything I grow (apart from peas)....but we must have them.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 8:59AM
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I think I will start planting them next month, my little green house container is full of cilantro, so I will have to wait until I make space there, plus that will give my chance to let my tomatillos grow, I really liked your idea of adding portulaca under them as well.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:26AM
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Indeed they are pest magnets! Found that out while reading
about peppers, I've been having fun controlling the aphids and miners.

I've never tried planting sweet peppers, the serrano/cayanne pepper plants I planted are my very first plants ever, I am very new to this. However, I would love to grow "Poblano Pepper", one of my favorites.

I am already getting HDR pots for the pepper, to prevent the excessive heat coming, but will surely consider your 2 pots idea for my other plants, sounds great!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 10:38AM
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Luis, you'll find NOTHING tastes as good as fruit and vegetables you've grown with your own hands. What you might look in to once it's warm is getting some lady bugs for the aphids and other insects. They'll clean many of them up without any chemicals, but not all. Every predator (except humans) leave something behind to repopulate so they have food for later. But, they keep them in check and permit you to be able to grow your food without any fear of chemical damage or poisoning yourself. I think once everything is planted and pushing, you'll find the combination to be quite pretty. Congratulations! Kim

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 12:07PM
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