Portulaca Molokiniensis: Care And Propagation

Portulaca Molokiniensis

Portulaca molokiniensis is an unusual looking succulent native to the hawaii. Appearance of this succulent differs from other succulents. This plant has got multiple stems and branches. These multiple stems and branches clump together to form the dense shrub.

This plant is short and attains the height of 18 inches. In Hawaii Portulaca molokiniensis is only found in a few coastal areas. Due to its rarity this species has been listed as endangered species. In Hawaii it is also known by its common name ‘ihi’. 

Protulaca molokiniensis

This can grow freely in the wild, where it propagates frequently. It mainly prefers tropical climate and is a terrestrial perennial evergreen plant.

Origin and Distribution

Portulaca molokiniensis is endemic to Hawaiian islands. From where it is distributed throughout the world. It is mostly distributed in tropical areas.

Portulaca molokiniensis plant

 Plant Characters


Stem of this plant is long, straight and sturdy. Stems of these plants are 0.2 inch (2 cm) in diameter that grow upright from the base.


Leaves of this plant are thick pale green with round tips. Leaves are about 5 cm in length. Leaves grow closely in 4 rows along the stem and they tend to cluster near the end of branches.


Pretty flowers are formed at the tip of the stem and are bisexual. They are usually small and cup-shaped. Flowers are yellow or golden colored.


Fruits are dry dehiscent which are called capsules. Fruits resemble the shape of tear drops.


The Seeds are dark brown to black seed. They are also sticky.


The natural habitat of Portulaca molokiniensis are rocky slopes and at the base of sea cliffs.

Special Features

Following are the special feature of this plant:

1. This plant has long, straight sturdy stems.

2. Flowers are bisexual and are formed on the tip of stems. They are small cup-shaped.

3. Leaves are thick pale green and round in shape.

4. This plant is toxic to cats and dogs.

USDA Growing Zone

Portulaca molokiniensis grows well in USDA hardiness zones 9a-11b (20 oF to 50 oF).

Growth Rate

This plant has a fast growth rate. This plant can attain proper growth within a short period of time. Best growing season is late spring to late summer.

Where To Grow?

You can grow Portulaca molokiniensis both indoors and outdoors. It is an excellent plant to be cultivated in the pot to keep it indoors. While growing indoors this plant becomes taller as it only grows upright.

Botanical Classification

                    Kingdom: Plantae

                    Clade: Tracheophytes

                     Clade: Angiosperms

                      Clade: Eudicots

                      Clade: Caryophyllales

                      Family: Portulacaceae

                       Genus: Portulaca

                       Species: molokiniensis

Is It Toxic?

Portulaca molokiniensis is toxic to cats and dogs. Severity of toxicity depends upon the ingested dosage. Following are the symptoms of toxicity:

1. Vomiting

2. Fatigue

3. Swallowing

4. Diarrhoea

5. Muscle weakness

6. Tremors

If your cat and dog have ingested Portulaca molokiniensis, you should visit the veterinarian for further instructions.


Like other succulents, Portulaca molokiniensis also does not require much care and attention. Some of them are given below:


Light is an essential component for the growth and development of the plant. A lot of direct sunlight is required by this plant. Full sunlight is preferred by this plant. So, while growing this plant outdoors you have to choose a sunny spot receiving at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Being native to hot areas, this plant requires and hence thrives well in bright and intense sunlight conditions.

Since it is high sunlight requiring plants you have to place this plant in south facing windows or doors while cultivating it indoors. Placing them in south facing windows will ensure the proper light requirement. In indoors the light requirement can be fulfilled by artificial lighting.


Portulaca molokiniensis is a heat tolerant plant. It grows best in temperatures of 15- 28 oC. It loves very hot weather conditions. This plant is susceptible to cold conditions and hence cannot tolerate extremely cold temperatures. It cannot tolerate temperatures below 25 oF.


This plant prefers well drained sandy soil with pH 5.5-7.0. Clay soil is not suitable for its cultivation, as it may lead to rotting of roots. The selected soil must have good drainage in order to prevent root rot. The potting mixture can be prepared from the mixture of cactus potting and mineral grit in the ratio of 1:1. This mineral grit facilitates the drainage. A good potting soil should consist of any one of the following elements or combinations of all:-

1. Coarse sand

Coarse sand has the thicker and heavier granules. Wider space between the granules facilitates the faster movement of water.

2. Pumice

Pumice is a natural stone that is filled with natural gas. When mixed with cactus potting soil, it serves to ensure good drainage.

3. Perlite

Perlite consists of volcanic minerals. Portulaca molokiniensis are high in natural water content. Larger particles facilitate the drainage.


This plant is native to hot, dry areas so it does not require much water. Watering once a week to ten days is sufficient. Foliage of the plant retains moisture well. So, there is no need for regular watering. Light watering at their root zone is usually adopted.

While watering you have to ensure that the pot has good drainage holes to remove the excess water. Root will die in excess water.


Portulaca molokiniensis prefers moderate humidity.


Portulaca molokiniensis even thrives in barren soil. However, it performs better under fertilized conditions. Small amount of organic fertilizer can be mixed in culture media before sowing. Basically, water soluble fertilizers are preferred and fertilization should be carried out twice a year. Low concentration of phosphorus and potassium fertilizers are required to promote flowering. This can be applied once every two weeks.

Potting And Repotting

A pot with ample drainage should be selected for potting. Growth media with sufficient nutrients should be used. Plastic or wooden pots can be used for potting.

Portulaca molokiniensis potting

This plant prefers rootbound conditions for some time. While repotting pots of larger dimensions must be selected. Also, new nutrient media should be provided.

Trimming And Pruning

Frequent pruning is required during the growing season. If not pruned properly, branches will spread haphazardly lowering its ornamental value. Crossed, inward and densely growing branches should be pruned away. Old, dried and diseased plant parts should be removed away for facilitating air movement and reducing the disease incidence.

Portulaca Molokiniensis Propagation

It is very easy to propagate Portulaca molokiniensis. This can be propagated either from seed or from stem cutting.

1. Seed propagation

This plant can be easily propagated from the seed. Seeds are usually sown in spring. Temperature above 20 oC is favourable for seed germination. Following steps are followed for seed propagation:

  • First you have to collect the seed after they are matured.
  • The collected seeds are left to dry for a few days.
  • They are sprinkled on the soil surface in a container.
  • This is followed by light sprinkling of water.
  • Light irrigation should be continued for a few days.
  • After a few days of sowing seed will germinate. Seed will generally sprout in two weeks at the temperature range of 24-29 oC.

2. Stem cutting

For propagation through stem cutting, follow the following procedures:

  • First the piece of stem close to the base is cut by using a sharp clean knife. The instrument must be clean to avoid the microbial contamination.
  • The cut part of the stem is left to dry for a few days. After a few days callus is formed at the end.
  • Then the callused cutting is inserted into the pot containing appropriate growing media.
  • Light watering is done until the plant takes root.
  • After a certain time you can have a well developed healthy plant.


1. Leaf infections

The Portulaca molokiniensis is susceptible to white rust infection. White rust is the white powdery coating that develops on the leaves. It spreads rapidly. Diluted apple cider vinegar should be sprayed for its effective control.

2. Anthracnose

This plant is susceptible to anthracnose particularly during hot and humid climate conditions. Infected plants show brown or grey spots. Later they become yellow and finally the dropping of leaves occurs.


Infected branches and leaves should be immediately cut off.

Chemicals like chlorothalonil, propiconazole can be sprayed.

3. Damping off

This particularly moisture related problem. Generally damping off is seen during high soil moisture conditions. The collar region of seedling is infected and it is unable to hold the weight of the plant and the plant ultimately topples down. Maintaining appropriate moisture conditions is the best control measure.


1. Aphids

Aphids are the major pest of this plant. This pest sucks sap from leaves and flower buds. This results in distorted leaves, short blooming. In severe cases wilting of plants is also observed.

2. Scale Insects

3. Snails and slugs



A well grown Portulaca molokiniensis plant can cost about $19.99.


  • This plant requires low maintenance.
  • This plant has attractive foliage.
  • It requires a small space to grow.
  • It can grow well even in the unfertilised condition.


  • This plant is toxic to cats and dogs.
  • It is intolerant to water logging condition.
  • It is also intolerant to cold temperatures.


Portulaca molokiniensis is a unique plant that everyone loves to grow. It is such a glamorous plant that every person can easily fall in love with it. Being native to tropical hot climates, this plant requires bright sunny climate for better growth and development.

At least 6 hours of bright sunlight is essential. Like other succulent plants, this plant also does not require too much care and maintenance. It has attractive foliage and tiny flowers that have enhanced its aesthetic values. The information mentioned above might be very useful if you want to cultivate this plant and enjoy its beauty.


  • Sochan Limbu

    A graduate of the Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal, Mr. Sochan Limbu is an agriculture professional. The author has worked in the gardening field for more than three years and has practical knowledge on how to handle and care for succulents. Get started gardening with his articles.

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