Purslane Weed – Eliminating Purslane In The Garden

Purslane Weed – Eliminating Purslane In The Garden

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By: Heather Rhoades

The purslane plant can be a difficult weed to control due to its multiple survival methods. The purslane weed can be controlled though, if you are familiar with all of the ways it can thwart you trying to remove it. Let’s look at the best methods for purslane control and how to get rid of purslane.

Identifying Purslane Plants

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a succulent plant that will grow outward in a circle shape close to the ground. The fleshy red stems will have small green paddle shaped fleshy leaves. Purslane flowers are star-shaped and yellow in appearance.

Purslane can be found in clear uncultivated or recently cultivated soil.

How to Get Rid of Purslane

Purslane weed is best dealt with while the plant is still young. If allowed to grow to the seed stage, they are able to actually throw their seeds some distance away from the mother plant and infest several other parts of your garden.

The best method for eliminating purslane is by hand pulling. Typically, a single purslane plant will cover a large area, so you can easily clear large areas affected by purslane weed with only a little effort.

Herbicide can be used on these plants as well but work best while the plants are still young.

Removing purslane from the garden is not the difficult part about controlling purslane. The difficult part is keeping purslane out of your garden and yard. As mentioned, a mature plant has the ability to throw its seeds away from the mother plant. Also, purslane can re-root itself from any part of its stems and leaves. Even a small piece of the plant left on the soil can result in new growth.

On top of this, purslane can continue to ripen its seeds even after it has been uprooted from the ground. So, if you throw the purslane into your compost pile or trash, it can still mature and throw its seeds back out onto soil in your garden.

Not only this, but purslane seeds can survive in the soil for years waiting to be brought back up to the light so that they can germinate. As you can see, this weed is a survivalist among plants and all of this makes purslane control difficult.

Taking all of this into consideration when eliminating purslane, make sure to dispose of the purslane properly. Place purslane weeds into a paper or plastic bag before throwing them away. Make sure that when you clear an area of purslane, you remove all traces of the plant to prevent re-rooting.

Purslane seeds need light to germinate, so a heavy layer mulch or paper over a previously infected area can help get rid of purslane. You can also use a pre-emergent herbicide to keep the new seeds from germinating.

Knowing how to get rid of purslane once and for all is easy once you know how purslane survives. Purslane control is really just a matter of making sure that the purslane weed and its seeds are all eliminated from the garden.

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Purslane, Thou Art My Bane

Organic gardeners can really take a hit when it comes to weed control. There are some effective homemade herbicides, but there are also some weeds that just thumb their noses at such attempts to eradicate them. Purslane is one of the latter. It is like something out of a horror movie in that it will spring back even if you think you have killed it. It also spreads like wildfire, creating a pandemic of matting weeds and their attendant yellow flowers. I hate the stuff.

I never really had a problem with the weed purslane until I moved to the hot, dry side of the state. In spite of deeply freezing temperatures in the winter, this annual reliably springs up every year. My much neglected new property was rife with the stuff when we moved in. In life, it is good to try to make lemonade from lemons. My foraging book recommended eating the stuff and touted it as one of the top edible weeds. So we tried. It is not an unpleasant taste, a bit grassy. However, the texture leaves much to be desired. It is like an overcooked okra, mucilaginous and slimy. So the thought of leaving it as part of our edible landscape was taken out of the equation. Annihilation it was to be.

Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a common summer annual weed. It germinates in the late-spring to early summer, produces very tiny seeds in late-summer and then dies back.

As you mentioned, physical removal of purslane is an option. It has a relatively shallow root system. There are two key points though, 1) you need to get all the plants before they produce their tiny yellow blooms, or more seed will be added to the soil creating a continued problems and 2) plants need to be removed from the area as this species is know to easily reroot. which could then also lead to seed.

If physical control isn't enough, you could try a couple of preventative methods. One would be to mulch the area after your vegetables are planted. I often use straw as a mulch in my own garden so I do not have to weed as much (warning, sometimes you will get wheat sprouting from the straw and you may also need to increase you fertilizer slightly). There are many other mulch options (e.g. shredded bark, newspaper, leaves, etc.). The key is to make sure it's atleast a couple inches thick to provide a physical barrier and to prevent sunlight from reaching the soil surface which can trigger germination.

Another option would be to use a preemergent herbicide treatment. Preemergent herbicides attack weeds as they are germinating from seed. They can also injure vegetables germinating from seed, so this is only an option if you are using transplants or veggies planted from seed have emerged. Any purslane emerging before treatment would need to be removed physically. Applications of these products early in the growing season is key. Examples of such products include Preen Garden Weed Preventer, Miracle-Gro Shane 'n Feed Weed Preventer, and Preen Natural/Organic Vegetable Weed Preventer a. The first two products contain the active ingredient trifluralin and the last uses corn gluten meal. Be sure with any herbicide application to read and follow all labeled instructions to avoid plant, personal, and environmental harm.

As a side note, some people like to eat common purslane in their salads or as a sauteed vegetable. so as they say, 'if you can't beat them, eat them.'

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

How to Manage Pests

Common Purslane

Common purslane, Portulaca oleracea.

Seedling of common purslane, Portulaca oleracea.

Infestation of purslane, Portulaca oleracea.

Purslane sawfly on purslane.

Common purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is a member of the Portulacaceae family with more than 120 different species found in that family. It is a weedy summer annual species that is abundant throughout the world, invading vegetable gardens, bare areas, low-maintenance lawns, ornamental plantings, and agricultural areas. It was first identified in the United States in 1672 in Massachusetts. It is particularly well adapted to the warm, moist conditions found in California’s irrigated agricultural and ornamental sites. Common purslane is edible, with a sweet, yet acidlike flavor. An excellent crunchy salad plant, it is said to blend well with hotter-flavored salad herbs. It has been cultivated in India and the Middle East and has been popular in Europe since the Middle Ages. In the United States, common purslane is a minor crop because of its use in ethnic cooking and its reputed health benefits of bioprotective nutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, and amino acids). In Spanish it is known as verdolaga. Other members of the purslane family include moss rose, miner’s lettuce, and redmaids (desert rockpurslane).


Common purslane is a prostrate, succulent annual that often forms a dense mat. The reddish stems originate from a central rooting point, radiating out like spokes of a wheel. The stems vary in length, commonly up to 12 inches. Leaves are stalkless (sessile), oval, smooth, succulent, and shiny, and vary from 1/2 to 2 inches in length. The leaves, although generally arranged opposite, may also occur alternately along the stem, particularly near the base. Small (3/8 inch), five-petaled, yellow flowers are borne singly in leaf axils and open only in sunshine. Seeds are borne in a small pod with a top that comes off like the lid on a cookie jar. Seeds are reddish brown to black, oval, and tiny (about 1/64 to 1/32 inch in diameter). Common purslane is a prolific seeder. A single plant may produce 240,000 seeds, which may germinate even after 5 to 40 years. In late summer, flat mats of mature purslane can be turned over to reveal thousands of seeds on the soil surface.

Common purslane germinates in California from February to March in the southern desert areas to late spring in cooler areas when soil temperatures reach about 60°F. It germinates very near to or at the soil surface in large numbers after an irrigation or rain. Most of the tiny seedlings die, but the survivors grow rapidly and can produce flowers in a few weeks. The fleshy stems of common purslane can remain moist and viable for several days after cultivation and hoeing, and reroot to form “new” plants when gardens or fields are irrigated.

Proper weed identification is imperative to obtain successful control. Identifying purslane is important but it is usually not the only weed presenting a problem and you will want to identify other weeds to find the most effective strategy for control. See the UC IPM Weed Photo Gallery.


Because of its ability to produce large numbers of seeds, common purslane can rapidly colonize any warm, moist site. A few scattered plants in the first year can become an almost solid carpet of purslane the following year. Its ability to reroot after cultivation or hoeing frequently enables it to survive these cultural control practices. Common purslane is low in stature and forms dense mats. These vegetative mats utilize available moisture and nutrients and screen out light to the soil surface, preventing emergence of other seedlings. Common purslane is unsightly, reducing the esthetic value of turf and ornamental plantings. In commercial situations common purslane can limit summer vegetable production and reduce the efficiency of harvesting nut crops, such as almonds and walnuts, from the orchard floor.


The primary method of management for common purslane is prevention. Common purslane is such a prolific seeder that once it has become established it is difficult to control. Avoid bringing common purslane into uninfested areas. Use weed-free planting stock and seed. Clean mowers, planters, and cultivation equipment that have been used in infested areas before allowing them to enter clean areas. Monitor uninfested sites for common purslane seedlings and destroy them before they set new seed. In home landscapes and gardens, this weed is generally managed by cultural means such as hand-weeding and mulching.

Cultural Control

Cultivation following irrigation when common purslane seedlings are small can reduce the weed population. However, because common purslane germinates at or near the soil surface, cultivation can bring up a fresh supply of weed seeds from deeper regions of the soil for future germination. Carefully monitor for weed seedlings after each irrigation and cultivate while seedlings are still small. When cultivating or hoeing larger common purslane plants, either remove them or allow plant material to thoroughly dry before irrigation. This will prevent rerooting of the fleshy stem sections. Otherwise, cultivation or hoeing becomes a transplanting operation and little control is achieved. Also, seeds may continue to ripen a week later even after a plant is pulled.

If they screen out all light, mulches can be used to control common purslane in ornamental plantings, orchards, vineyards, vegetable crops, and gardens. To be effective, organic mulches should be at least 3 inches thick. Synthetic mulches (plastic or fabric mulch) which screen out light and provide a physical barrier to seedling development, also work well. Fabric mulches, which are porous and allow flow of water and air to roots, are preferred over plastics. Combinations of synthetic mulches with organic or rock mulches on top are commonly used in ornamental plantings.

Soil solarization, the practice of covering moist soil with a clear plastic sheet for 4 to 6 weeks during the summer months, can kill common purslane and its seed. Solarization is done before gardens and ornamental areas are planted. To be effective it should be done during the summer months of July to August when heat and light intensity are highest. Prepare your beds before solarization. Do not disturb the soil or cultivate after solarization as weed seeds from deeper layers of the soil may be brought to the surface for germination. (See Soil Solarization: A Nonpesticidal Method for Controlling Diseases, Nematodes, and Weeds. )

Biological Control

Purslane sawfly is an insect that feeds and reproduces on common purslane. It eats the leaves of common purslane, leaving the plants low in vigor and with little photosynthetic area. Unfortunately, by the time it develops sufficient numbers to have an impact on the common purslane population, seed development and much of the damage from purslane competition in the garden or crop have already occurred.

Chemical Control

Chemical control is generally not necessary for the control of common purslane in the home landscape it is primarily used in conjunction with cultural methods for commercial situations and should be reserved for use only under unusual circumstances in the home landscape.

There are many herbicides that will control common purslane. Preemergent chemicals control seeds and postemergent chemicals control the growing weeds. A selective herbicide controls only certain weeds while a nonselective herbicide controls all or most weeds.

If preemergent herbicides are to be used, make sure they are present at the soil surface during the time of seedling emergence and have been activated with an irrigation or a shallow incorporation soon after application. Tilling the preemergent herbicides too deeply (2–3 inches) into the soil has resulted in failure to control common purslane. Postemergent herbicides are effective when applied to the seedling stage if applied too late in the season to mature plants, control is often erratic and seed set may have already occurred.


Common purslane is usually not a problem in healthy, well-established turfgrass. It can be found most commonly in weaker, poorly maintained turfgrass. Therefore, the improvement of cultural practices to obtain healthy, competitive turfgrass is the best method to deal with this weed problem in lawns. However, several herbicides are available for use in turf that control purslane.

Preemergent control

The herbicides dithiopyr, pendimethalin, or combinations of benefin and trifluralin or benefin and oryzalin (used in bermudagrass turf only) will control common purslane as preemergent treatments. These products are mostly granular materials and some may be mixed with a turf fertilizer.

Postemergent control

Dicamba, MCPP, MSMA, and 2,4-D are effective postemergent herbicides in turfgrass and are available to the home gardener.

Ornamental Plantings

The use of a suitable mulch thick enough to limit the light reaching the soil surface can control common purslane in ornamental plantings and may eliminate the need for herbicides. Spot spraying a nonselective postemergent herbicide such as glyphosate can provide good control if care is taken to avoid letting it contact the foliage of desirable plants. Herbicide active ingredients such as oryzalin, pendimethalin, and trifluralin will provide control and are available to the home gardener.

Vegetable Crops

Soil solarization, mulches, and early cultivation of common purslane seedlings can help to control infestations. Preemergents are almost never used in the vegetable garden because of the diversity of different vegetables, chemical residues for months after the application, and chemical registrations on the labels.

Specific herbicide recommendations for commercial orchard crops and vegetable plantings are available online see the UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines.

Important Notes: If you decide to use a chemical you need to be aware of certain precautions.

  1. Many of the postemergent selective materials are in combinations to control a wider spectrum of weeds, often with three or four chemicals in the combination. Sometimes one or two of the chemicals will not control purslane but are included in the mix to control other weeds. For example, Bayer Advanced All in One spray contains 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba, and MSMA. The MSMA provides no control and the MCPP provide partial control, while the 2,4-D and dicamba will control purslane.
  2. The granular formulations (postemergent) with fertilizer are applied to a moist lawn so the herbicide is able to adhere to the moist broadleaf weed. Generally these “weed and feed” products are not recommended because the proper time for fertilizing often does not coincide with proper time for weed control.
  3. There are many different brand names for many of the same chemical active ingredients, and/or variations in combinations of chemicals. Below are some examples:
    • Dithiopyr is found in Schultz Supreme Green Crabgrass Preventer with fertilizer, Best Turf Supreme Crabgrass Preventer plus Lawn Fertilizer, and Monterey Crab and Spurge Preventer.
    • Trifluralin sold as Trifluralin, Treflan is available only to professionals, or in the nursery as Preen for home-owners.
    • Mecoprop (MCPP) is found in Bayer Advance All in One and Ortho Weed B Gon (with other chemicals).
    • Glyphosate is sold as Roundup and Remuda.
  4. Drift on breezy days during application can move the chemical onto desired ornamentals and cause injury.
  5. Improper weed identification may result in no control or only partial control.
  6. Calibration of application equipment, especially with the preemergent herbicides, is critical. Too little chemical applied results in poor control, and too much chemical applied may result in injury to the turf or ornamentals.


Cros, V. 2007. Good yields of common purslane with a high fatty acid content can be obtained in a peat-based floating system. HortTechnology, 17(1), 14-20.

Elmore, C. L., J. J. Stapleton, C. E. Bell, and J. DeVay. 1997. Soil Solarization: A Nonpesticidal Method for Controlling Diseases, Nematodes, and Weeds. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 21377.

Haar, M. and S. Fennimore. 2003. Evaluation of integrated practices for common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) management in lettuce (Lactuca sativa). Weed Technology, 17(2), 229-233.

Mitich, L. W. 1997. Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea). Weed Science. 11(2):394-397.

Molinar, Richard. 2002. California Master Gardener Handbook. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 3382.

Whatcom County Weeds (PDF) , Washington State Noxious Weed Board, Public Works Department.

Whitson, T. D., ed. 2001. Weeds of the West, Jackson: Univ. WY.


Pest Notes: Common Purslane
UC ANR Publication 7461

Authors: D. W. Cudney, Botany and Plant Sciences, UC Riverside C. L. Elmore, Vegetable Crops/Weed Science, UC Davis R. H. Molinar, UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno Co.
Produced by IPM Education and Publications, University of California Statewide IPM Program

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

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Deadheading purslane

Does purslane (not the weed but the kind similar to moss rose) need to be deadheaded? This is the first year I've had cultivated purslane so I'm wondering. I have three hanging baskets of it.

Colleen, last year I purchased a cultivated purslane plant at the local nursery. I did not need to deadhead. It had a nice spreading habit and bloomed beautifully until frost. I'll bet it's really beautiful as a hanging plant!

I constantly battle purslane, the noxious weed, but I've noticed a few plants that look more like the cultivated variety I grew last year. They may have reseeded. I'll just have to wait until they bloom to know for sure. (And I hope it's not the weed that I'm allowing to propagate in the meantime. Sigh!)

Thanks. I thought surely you wouldn't need to deadhead purslane but I thought perhaps it was blooming less so wondered. I don't like to deadhead.

It is lovely in hanging baskets. I have 3 spots in my yard that get wind and it seems to thrive there in the partial sun. Glad to have found the right flowering plant for those places.

I always grow the cultivated purslane in lots of different colors. They are a very hardy plant. I don't deadhead either. As the summer goes by I do cut them back when they begin to get leggy. Then I put a little bloom booster on the containers and they revive up and go on till fall. My problem is the deer like them too. :(

succulent purslane, the kind many refer to as a weed, is edible, and delicious- eat it leaves, stems and all while still small, in a mixed salad some steam it when it's larger, but it does get bitter.

short solution to a weed problem! :)

dandelions don't last long in my yard either.

I can remember eating dandelion greens as a child! Since then I've graduated to spinach. LOL! Dandelions get thrown out with the yard waste! (Besides, they're usually in bloom before I notice them!)

Both purslane and scaevola benefit from a haircut when the runners get long, especially if they begin to get bare of leaves/blooms. I cut back a blue and a pink scaevola about 3 weeks ago, and they are coming back and blooming prolifically. I fertilized them also at the time I cut them back, and will continue to do so every 2-3 wks. since they are in containers and the necessary frequent watering flushes out fertlizer at a pretty fast rate.

My experience w/purslane here has been that once it begins to get cool in the fall (come soon, please!) this plant begins to go downhill and there's not much you can do to revive it. I've never had one bloom right up until frost.

This may be a silly question, but what is the difference between the noxious weed purslane, and the one people like? I had some "purslane" pop up and was happy about it, because it looks nice (grows like crazy) but if it's a weed and could do harm to the others around it . . . well, I'm not sure I'm so happy about it. It's kind of pretty. It's not all over, but just in a couple of spots where it popped up last year as well.

bernrice, if you didn't plant it -- you'll probably want to get rid of it -- but only if it's invasive in your area. In my neck of the woods this is truly a nuisance. I looked in Plant Files, though, and was shocked to see how lovely some of these really are.

purslane is purslane- it's only 'noxious' because it is a pain in the behind, not b/c it is poisonous or harmful. noxious defines a plant inimical to farming, not inherently harmfull to people or animals (though doesn't rule it out!!). the rule of thumb is that if it isn't where you want it, it's a weed:)

Figaro and Fllem, thanks for the info. The purslane I have is actually quite pretty, and lucky for me, it's in an area that could be contained or removed so for now I think I'll let it be a pretty weed :o) I appreciate your comments and have a great day!

Benrice, thanks. It's good to know that it's pretty and that it's in the right place.

Use of herbicides to control the plant

The use of systemic herbicides is not the most effective method of combating such a weed as Purslane. How to remove it from the beds using garden chemistry? It is unlikely that you will be satisfied with the answer to this question. The presence of wax coating on the leaves of purslane provides it with high resistance to chemicals. It is believed that higher doses of poisons help, but they get into the soil and harm cultivated plants, as well as appear in vegetables and herbs. Therefore, herbicides are the least effective in this case.

Watch the video: Purslane vs Spurge