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Photo by ALLEN OWINGS, LSU AgCenter -- Rio Grande purslane, shown here at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station, makes a great flowering ground cover for full sun.

Purslane, or Portulaca oleracea, really shines in the summer garden.

“These flowers are unique,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.

They close in the evening, and even the leaves fold up at night.

“In the morning when the sun shines on them, the foliage opens and the flowers burst into bloom, and you see this amazing carpet of color,” he says.

On cloudy days, however, they tend not to open until the sun starts peeking out.

Purslane has fleshy, paddle-shaped leaves that are succulent. The intensely colored flowers can be single or double. It’s low-growing, staying under 6 inches tall.

It’s wonderful at the front of your bed and beautiful in mixed planters or hanging baskets, where it tends to cascade over the sides.

“It’s a really versatile plant for baskets, for mixed planters and for putting in the front of your flower beds,” Gill says. They’ll continue blooming all through the summer, and the succulent foliage means it doesn’t need frequent watering.

“Once established, you don’t have to fuss over it,” Gill says. “It will brighten your whole landscape.”

You asked

I have a couple of live oak trees that are about 100 years old. Their branches rest on the ground. We have been trying to clean the poison ivy and a five-leaf vine that has a reddish tint on the edges. What can I use to kill the roots of these vines that will not hurt my trees? Barbara

Cut as much of the vines as you can. When they put out new leaves at the base, spray with glyphosate. This treatment will need repeating several times, depending on how well established the plant is and how large its root system is. Spray the herbicide on the vine leaves, taking care not to spray the tree leaves. — Hallie Dozier, LSU AgCenter

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