THE current scorching hot weather in Malaysia may persist for the next few weeks.

Under this dry weather, one of the best perennial succulents to plant in your garden that can tolerate drought and heat is portulacas, as it requires very little maintenance.

Portulacas may look like roses, but the leaves are the giveaway and the tree also grows just four to six inches tall.

It is the type genus of the flowering plant family Portulacaceae, comprising up to 100 species found in the tropics and warm temperate regions.

Also known as moss roses, they are easy to grow. Moss Rose plants are grown from seeds. Moss Rose seeds can be directly seeded into your flower garden, or indoors for transplanting later. They prefer loose, sandy or loam soils. A well-draining composition is important.

Add a general purpose, high nitrogen fertiliser when first planting, so the tree has a good start. Add a high phosphorous fertiliser just before it blooms. Once it starts blooming, you can stop the fertilisers. Next is all about maintaining the plant.

Portulaca produces vivid-coloured blooms, in shades of rose, pink, yellow, white, orange, red, cream or white, and purple. The wonderful plant will help attract butterflies to your gardens as well as act as eye-catchers for your landscapes.

Place portulacas in front of your flower garden. Or you can plant them as border edging, in rock gardens, as bedding plants or ground cover.

They will also look pretty in containers and hanging pots.

If you decide to grow them in hanging pots, make sure they have enough sunlight, if you are going to hang them under tall shrubs or trees.

If you want to place them in containers the plants will grow out and over the edges of them, making a grand display of strikingly vibrant-coloured blooms.

Most people plant portulacas in the ground or in huge pots as they will seed and spread themselves very well. This means you can buy a few portulacas, perhaps one for each colour, and they will multiple in no time. As they multiple, you can replant them. Soon you will have a garden of portulacas.

Portulacas, however, just like other plants are prone to insects or diseases if not taken care off.

Snails and slugs can be a problem too. Treat with insecticide or repellents, as and when needed.

Fungus diseases can also occur, especially if you have other plants that have them. Use a general purpose fungicide in humid weather, or when problems appear. However, do not use too much!

The roots can also rot if there is too much water added to the plant. Check soil occasionally.

Enjoy your portulacas!

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