Moss roses are hardy annual flowers for full sun that are sometimes eaten by common garden pests like slugs, snails, earwigs, aphids, mites, whiteflies, thrips, and other small insects. Pests that eat moss roses can be easily controlled by frequent weeding and the use of soap sprays and slug repellents.
Moss roses are low-growing annuals with brightly colored quarter-sized flowers and spongy succulent leaves that look a little like cactus or jade leaves. Also known as portulaca, moss roses will leave the garden bed and grow wild in some warmer parts of the United States, and are especially well-suited to hot dry conditions.
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Moss roses can be bothered by small bugs like mites, aphids, thrips, and earwigs, and are also a good food for snails and slugs. All of these pests thrive in wet, crowded conditions. Planting moss roses in a dry, sunny place and weeding frequently is usually enough to prevent insect and slug damage.
Treating Insect Problems
Moss roses occasionally fall prey to little sucking bugs like aphids and thrips. Most bugs are easily kept off of moss roses by spraying the plants once or twice a week with plain soapy water. A little dish soap mixed with warm water in a spray bottle works well and won't harm the plants.
Treating Snail and Slug Problems
Snails and slugs like moist, shaded areas, so keeping moss roses in the hot sun is the best way to keep these pests at bay. Sprinkling a thin layer of diatomaceous earth around the flowers will also repel snails. Diatomaceous earth is an inexpensive snail repellent that contains sharp microscopic shells from tiny sea creatures called "diatoms" which irritate a snail's soft flesh.
Portulaca or moss rose is a cultivar of purslane, which was used as an early American pot herb or boiled vegetable but has since become a common weed. Bugs like to eat moss rose because it is nutritious and because its succulent, cactus-like leaves contain lots of water, making the plant incredibly drought-resistant.