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Oxalis: Shamrock Care

Care instructions and tips for Oxalis (Shamrock).

These are among the best of the indoor bulb plants. Not only are they easy to find and easy to grow, they have a long bloom period and come in a variety of colors including pink, white, yellow, red and purple. Oxalis plants have rather slender flower stems and low growing foliage that looks like enormous clover leaves.

Oxalis plants can be brought into bloom anytime from fall through spring. They need to rest through the summer. Pot the bulbs from September to March, setting them 1 inch deep in a mix of equal parts of peat moss, packaged soil and either sand or perlite, with a dusting of ground limestone added. The plants are small and look better in a group, so set 6 bulbs together in a shallow 6-inch pan. Once they’re planted, moisten the soil and set the pot in the sun. If Oxalis don’t have at least a half day of sun, they are very disappointing because of their weak growth. Their leaves and blooms are sensitive to light and only open on sunny days. During darkness or cloudy weather, the flowers close and the leaves fold up.

Within 2 weeks of potting, there is a healthy show of foliage from the bulbs and flowers within a month. The flowers will last for about 2 months. During this growing period, the plants need night temperatures in the 50s, constantly moist soil and a monthly feeding. At the end of the bloom period when the flowers fade and the foliage starts to turn yellow, gradually reduce the amount of water and eliminate fertilizer altogether. Leave the bulbs in their pots until fall when they can be re-potted again. Take some care during this re-planting operation. The bulbs will have produced a pot full of small bulblets, and even the tiniest of them – no larger than the head of a corsage pin – will produce a small plant and some flowers. Eventually all those little bulbs will grow to full size.

For more care instruction visit the Gardening Guides section of our website.

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