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Would someone be able to explain to me how portulaca genetics work? (Flower colors)

Posts: 23
Location: PA
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I was wondering if someone could explain the relationship between portulaca flower color and cross pollination?   This year I planted portulaca from seed that I had collected last fall. I was surprised to find that what I had planted actually had better and more diverse color than the plants that I purchased in flats from the gardening center.

I was expecting the colors of my seed plants to be more muted and dull since the different colors (at least in my mind) should have mixed and created something in between the two parent colors.

Because of this, I now have several questions that I cant find answers to:

1.)  If I constantly grew plants from the past year of seeds would the plants eventually revert back to a single color over time?

2.)  How do seed sellers sell single colors of portulaca (such as white, pink etc.) and know that the plant will be true to last years crop?  (It seems that the plants would have to be completely isolated and grown for several generations to achieve this confidence)

3.)  I've seen the candy-stripe variety sold as a plants in the spring and assumed that these were genetic abnormalities that were cloned and sold in plant only form. This idea was brought down when I saw seeds for peppermint portulaca sold online.

4.) I also grew (from seed) the yellow/white variety of portulaca that vines and has broad leaves more is similar to wild purslane.  The flowers were mixed and I had several different variations of yellow and white.  This year I purchased the same plant in orange and almost red.  Will these cross with the yellow / white version?

I have several colors this year that I would like to keep overwinter to insure that I have them next year, but I've never had luck overwintering portulaca.

Thanks in advance for any insight.
Posts: 6686
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Wow, talk about a deep subject, (good one).

1. when you are hybridizing any plant, if you continually "Line Pollinate" then at some point you would have some of the seed revert to the original color, not all would do this but there would be some.

2. Seed houses use green houses and all species are kept separate, pollen is collected and manually applied to get seeds of the genetics desired by the grower, all pollinated flowers are encased (usually with a glassine paper cone that can be closed off) after the pollen is applied so that no stray pollen has a chance of contaminating.

3. when it comes to flowers the seed genetics will match the flower attributes, if they didn't you would not have that particular flower coloring.

4. yes they will cross pollinate unless you segregate them some how.

5. the plant is an annual and its genetic make up doesn't make it able to overwinter. I am sure you could have success but the equipment would probably be quite expensive and then there is the space requirement for the equipment.

(Get yourself a copy of this book (or something very similar)) Flower Breeding Genetics, going into such a project with out knowledge almost ensures failure at least at first.

Posts: 223
Location: nevada zone7
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some flowers change colors based on nutrients available or given to a plant,
as well as from start to maturity.
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Posts: 2007
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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I've replanted portulaca seed or let it volunteer and yes, it always makes a very nice bright assortment of colors. I haven't noticed it reverting to one color particularly, but I haven't gone more than 2 generations out before I end up having to start with new seeds.

If vendors are selling already started plants of known colors, they might be kept alive from cuttings over the winter. However, I think some seed places actually sell seed of single color portulaca, though I'm not sure about that.

I only this last week for the first time saw that broad-leafed portulaca that looks like oversize purslane. I always had the narrow leaf kind.
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I used to grow a half-dozen single-color patches of corn, collect the seed separately, and then combine them in known quantities to sell as multicolored sweet corn. I know a number of seed growers that do something similar with other species (rainbow chard, multi-color radishes and carrots). It wouldn't surprise me at all if portulaca is grown that way as well.

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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I have what I call Moss Rose, Portulaca grandiflora


My original plant was given to me back in 2007 and was the most beautiful peachy pink color.  It has multiplied many times over the years, just coming up from seeds it dropped.

I have had many color ranging from orange, red and yellow and maybe pink and peachy.  Now 12 years later I only have yellow.  I read that yellow is the predominate color.

When we moved in 2013, I asked my daughter for a sprig of my plants though she said she had gotten rid of them so she bought me this:


Portulaca oleracea, common purslane

I over wintered it that year in my shower so it lived at least two years.

The moss roses that I now have are from that original 2007 plant so when we moved they did come with me somehow, maybe in dirt in a pot.

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