I've had this portulaca for 6 months. I keep it indoors as temperatures get very hot where I live (104 degrees +).

I used to water it every 5 days, if it was still dry 2 inches below the soil. At times, it went 10 days without water, but looked fine.

Recently, the leaves on the bottom half of the plant started withering and falling off. It starts at the tip of the leaf, then spreads to the full leaf.

When this started happening, I began checking the soil moisture level every 2 days and watering only when dry. Sometimes the soil became dry within 2 days.

However, the plant is still losing leaves. Appreciate if anyone can give me any guidance here.

When I water, I don't add a specific amount, instead I keep adding water until it starts to drain from the bottom of the pot.

Attached 3 pictures: the whole plant, close up of the soil, close up of withered leaves

full plant soil withering leaves

1 Answer 1


Portulaca is a succulent annual plant, adapted to hot and dry conditions. It survives drought by storing moisture in leaves and stems. In wet conditions it swells up to accommodate as much water as it can, and in dry conditions locks itself down to lose as little water as possible. Losing lower leaves is quite normal as the plant gets more mature, and six months is quite old for this annual. It is not unusual to see plants that old with long straggling stems thick with stored moisture, leafless except at the growing tips where the flowers will appear.

Looking at your photos we see thinner plants than expected for that old, and no flowers, which means growing in less than normal conditions. Probably you are being too kind to it, with more water than it really wants or needs. In some places your stems are sprouting roots which means too much humidity. Don't be afraid to give it lots of sun and heat and dry as you can in sandy rather than peaty soil. Set yourself the goal of seeing how dry it can get without showing signs of distress. Distress in this case is not losing leaves, but rather shrivelling stems.

  • Thank you. It looks like you're right, I found some orange mold growing on the underside of the pot, which was blocking most (not all) of the drainage holes, so I repotted the plant.
    – souzan
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 15:21
  • I know it's not getting enough sun as it's kept indoors, temperatures get to 104 degrees celsius where I live, and I read that portulacas can handle 80 degrees max. Planning to put it outdoors once the temperature gets better.
    – souzan
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 15:23

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