ON GARDENING: Colorful Pazazz portulaca simply irresistible

The group or series is called Pazazz, and believe me, you will never see a more shocking colorful display in any landscape. Pazazz is a relatively new series of portulaca from Israel courtesy of Danzinger “Dan” Flower Farm.

Botanically speaking, the Pazazz series is known as Portulaca oleracea and now boasts several flaming colors; some of my favorites are Red Flare, Salmon Glow, Pink Glow and Ultra Pink. They all glow, even in what I would describe as in an iridescent manner. They have stunned better-known competition by their ranking in flower trials.

Pazazz were introduced as the first to stay open all day and even in cloudy weather, which has not been the case with the other series in the market. Though they may not give a morning until dawn-performance, you will find them open longer and on cloudy days. These have landscape winner written all over them.

Water conscious gardeners will love their tough, durable nature. They are not water hogs and have little to no disease pressures in well-drained soil.

To maximize success, select healthy transplants and space them six to eight inches apart in a bed with well-drained soil and full sunlight. They do not like wet feet, or water-logged soil. So if you have heavy clay, improve your conditions by working in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter. While tilling, take this time to incorporate around 2 pounds of a slow-release fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed space.

Once we get the plants established in our bed, they are considered among the top plants for being drought tolerant. They will appreciate a little fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks through the growing season.

My favorite way to use portulaca or purslane is to mass-plant single colors. A bed mass-planted near a street with a color like Pazazz Salmon Glow will literally stop traffic. If you are fortunate to have access to rocks for your garden, this plant is ideal for this situation.

But for a really long color display that is tough as nails, try New Gold lantana planted in back with Pazazz Red Flare in front. Try combining a complimentary color like Pazazz Vivid Yellow, with Purple Heart, for another easy summer long performing bed.

I am not exaggerating when I say long either. The Pazazz hits its stride and June and remains riveting into September. It’s pretty nice to think that while we are inside enjoying the comforts of central air the landscape is sizzling, causing glancing stares of envy.

They also offer a lot of opportunity for container use. Hanging baskets or Old World European style containers will look sensational with a mono-culture of a single color. On the other hand you could not ask for a better filler plant for those designer style mixed containers.

We have a lot of summer left and if you are staring at petunias that have long ago passed their prime then you are a candidate for some really tough color to carry you through to pansy season. Portulacas like the Pazazz series is just what you need.

Norman Winter, is author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South.”