Portulacas – my summer respite!

Summer time is not too kind to most flowers. I mean, our kind of summers — the scorching, Indian sun, burning the skins off Mother Nature’s bountiful sons and daughters! Trees would shade you from the sun alright, but they won’t be able to canopy the kind of dainty blooms you lusted after all winter. The robust zinnias that withstand the heat also linger for only a short period. In Assam, the water bodies do inspire ample rainfall. In fact, it already poured a week ago! But that means summers will bite. With winters getting over in a January fortnight and off-season monsoons drenching Bihu, I am intimidated about how many litres a day we’re going to sweat! Most days, coming out of the house without a pair of eyeshades (even if I’m in pyjamas) is simply impossible. And yet, my plan is to do don my shades to get a quick glance of my Portulacas.

An earthen curd bowl rejuvenated into a flower pot (check pic above), is currently holding a batch of Portulacas in my row of would-bes. Since the seasonals are done with, I have replenished the empty flower baskets with Portulacas. Except that they shut eyes by 2 PM, Portulacas — also known as the 9 AM flowers —  are a delightful bunch to look at. My batch has bright pink and yellow. If you have an old batch, you can simply stick one to half an inch stems in the soil and with good watering, they’ll grow well. But, note that the extended growth of already planted stems usually leads to thin flowering. So when they grow inordinately, stem the branches off. They’ll grow denser and flower better.

While my zinnias are yet to grow stronger, the portulacas have been growing steadily, duly covering their habitat in the day and getting droopy by evening. I have a 3-storeyed wrought iron stand that holds about nine pots in threes. I’m planning to make my 9 AMs stand in rows and burn the sun back. We’ll see who wins!


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