Portulaca molokiniensis ‘Ihi’

Let me introduce you to Portulaca molokiniensis, a unique and eye-catching succulent. It’s commonly known as ihi, Molokai purslane, or petal leaf succulent. Native to the Hawaiian Islands, this rare gem is a must-have for succulent enthusiasts.

Portulaca molokiniensis kathysgarden molokiniensis
Portulaca molokiniensis – @kathysgarden_

Introduction to Portulaca molokiniensis ‘Ihi’

Characteristics and appearance

What sets Portulaca molokiniensis apart from other succulents? Its distinct appearance for starters! This tropical succulent features thick, upright stems and round, fleshy leaves that resemble small paddles. The leaves grow in a spiral pattern around the stem, giving it a quirky, sculptural look.


Source: Etsy

If you’re searching for something extra special, keep an eye out for the variegated variety of Portulaca molokiniensis. Its leaves display an attractive mix of green and cream colors, making it a standout among other succulents.

Portulaca molokiniensis variegated molokiniensis

Source: Etsy

Caring for Portulaca molokiniensis

Sunlight requirements

Does Portulaca molokiniensis enjoy basking in the sun? Absolutely! This sun-loving succulent thrives in full sun to partial shade. Just make sure to gradually introduce it to direct sunlight to avoid sunburn.

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Source: Etsy

Watering frequency

How often should you water Portulaca molokiniensis? Like most succulents, it prefers the “soak and dry” method. Water it thoroughly, then let the soil dry out completely before watering again. This typically means watering once a week during the growing season and less frequently in its dormancy period. As with other succulents, make sure to observe signs of dehydration in the stem or leaves in addition to dry soil.

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Source: Etsy

Soil type and drainage

Portulaca molokiniensis appreciates well-draining soil to keep its roots healthy. A cactus or succulent mix works great, or you can create your own blend using equal parts potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand. Considering how much lava rock is in Hawaii, it would be a good idea to amend crushed lava rock into your succulent soil. The pores in the lava rock help retain just the right amount of moisture and keep the roots aerated.

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Source: Etsy

Temperature and hardiness

Dormancy period

How does Portulaca molokiniensis handle temperature changes? It can tolerate temperatures as low as 30°F (-1°C), but it’s best to bring ‘Ihi’ indoors or provide protection if temperatures drop below freezing. It rarely gets that cold in its native Hawaiian habitat! Keep in mind this succulent goes dormant in winter, so don’t be alarmed if it appears less active during this time.

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Growth and size

Growth season

When does Portulaca molokiniensis grow the most? ‘Ihi’ actively grows during spring and summer, with a rest period during winter. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly to keep your succulent happy and healthy.


Source: Etsy

Height and shape

How tall does this succulent get? Portulaca molokiniensis can reach up to 12 inches in height, making it an attractive addition to any succulent arrangement or rock garden.

Potential issues

Leaves turning black

Why are my Portulaca molokiniensis ‘Ihi’ leaves turning black? This may be a sign of overwatering or poor drainage. Adjust your watering schedule and ensure your soil drains well to prevent root rot and other issues.

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Saving a dying succulent

If your Portulaca molokiniensis ‘Ihi’ is dying, don’t panic! With a little TLC, you can often save your succulent by addressing any underlying issues, such as overwatering, inadequate sunlight, or poor soil conditions.

Propagation and cultivation

How to propagate

What’s the best way to propagate Portulaca molokiniensis? Simply take a healthy cutting from a non-flowering stem, let it dry for a few days, and then plant it in well-draining soil.

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When to propagate

When should you propagate your ‘Ihi’ Portulaca molokiniensis? The ideal time is during the active growing season, typically spring and summer. This ensures your cuttinghas the best chance to establish roots and thrive.

Conservation and environmental concerns

Endangered status

Did you know that Portulaca molokiniensis ‘Ihi’ is considered endangered in the wild? Due to habitat loss and other factors, its natural population is at risk. By cultivating this succulent responsibly, you can help preserve its unique beauty for future generations.

Native range and significance

Portulaca molokiniensis ‘Ihi’ is native to the volcanic slopes of the Hawaiian Islands, on Molokini Island (Maui), Puʻukoaʻe Islet and Kamōhio Bay, Kahoʻolawe. This succulent plays an important role in Hawaiian culture, with the name ‘Ihi’ referring to a traditional Hawaiian chant that celebrates the life-giving power of the sun.

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Portulaca molokiniensis ‘Ihi’ is a charming and distinctive succulent that deserves a spot in your collection. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy its captivating appearance and contribute to the conservation of this rare and treasured succulent. Remember to provide ample sunlight, use well-draining soil, and adjust your watering schedule according to the season. Let’s grow!