Purslane weed

Asked April 23, 2020, 8:44 AM EDT

How do I get rid of purslane in my vegetable garden? It has taken over. I’ve tried to pull it out, but each year it gets worse.

Livingston County Michigan

1 Response

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.' https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/what-to-do-cook-with-purslane-article

Please let me know if you have any other questions.