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How to Grow and Care for Oxalis Plants

How to Grow and Care for Oxalis Plants

If you have been waiting for long to have your garden filled with colors all round the year, perhaps your wait is over! Oxalis (or shamrock) is a must-have for those who want to have colorful flowerbeds even in winter. This Gardenerdy article tells you how to grow and care for oxalis plants.
Samarpita Choudhury
The 'Purple' Wonder!
Oxalis is considered good as ornamental plants. Purple shamrock and Oxalis triangularis, two varieties of oxalis, grow well in containers as houseplants.
Oxalis, belonging to the family Oxalidaceae, is commonly known as the shamrock or wood sorrel. It has about 300 known species, which grow from bulbs and tuberous roots. It is interesting to know that these tiny plants are very sensitive to touch and light. Strikingly, this plant displays a wide variety of colors in both its foliage and flowers. Hence, it is a delight to have. The flowers come in white, yellow, pink, and reds. The clover-shaped leaves come in hues of green, purple, and red. The fruit is tiny and has several seeds. As the name suggests, oxalis is rich in oxalic acid, which lends it a tangy taste.

When talking about shamrock, St. Patrick's Day is a must-discuss factor. In Ireland, this day is celebrated with grandeur, and the celebration is incomplete without white shamrocks. Its importance dates back to the time when St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain the complex theory of the Holy Trinity.

Oxalis requires minimum effort, time, and care to grow, but if not controlled, it may turn into weeds. This article will explain the procedure to grow oxalis plants, and also provide the guidelines of plant care.

Steps to Grow an Oxalis Plant

Ensure that your pot is deep enough. Shallow pots are not ideal to grow oxalis. You can also take containers of any size or shape to grow your favorite blooms.

Fill the pot adequately with a mix of soil and some sand, humus, and mulch. Do not stuff it too much as it will hamper drainage.

Dig a small hole, roughly around an inch deep, and place bulbs of oxalis into it. You can have 4 - 5 bulbs lying in one pot.

Keep the pot away from direct sunlight, preferably in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your garden or house. Try to keep the soil moist. You need not water it much before you notice any growth of the shoots.

Shoots will begin to appear, and you will be able to see foliage in a few weeks' time. Flowers will start blooming in approximately 6 - 8 weeks depending on all the conditions.

Tip: It is advisable not to grow oxalis in a mixed pot with other flowers as it becomes dormant and stays so for approximately 3 months. Keeping them together with other plants will cause problems as their growth requirements are different.

Oxalis Plant Care

Soil is utterly important for the growth of healthy plants and beautiful flowers along with other prerequisites. Moist soil in a pot with good drainage is apt for oxalis plants. They are not very picky with the nature of soil you grow them in. You can have them in acidic, alkaline, or neutral soils. The soil should have abundant humus and mulch.

Tip: The soil shouldn't be muddy and too soft.

To get beautiful blooms, it's important to provide adequate light to your oxalis. Since it is mostly an indoor plant, ensure that your plant does not get insufficient light. In case of artificial light, keep the container near the light source for roughly 12 hours a day. If the light is too much or too less for your plant, it will grow too thin and tall. After dormancy and during the growing years, when the plant bears fresh shoots, it requires more supply of light.

Tip: Drape-filtered light is a better option than direct exposure to the sun.

Water the plant optimally. Oxalis grows best in moist soil. Care should be taken not to over-water the plant as it may turn soggy. This could spoil the quality of the plant as a whole. It may also become dormant untimely. There could also be a problem of root rot. However, it is best to curtail the water supply when your plant is in the dormant state.

Tip: Keep the container hydrated even during the dormant phase of the plant.

As oxalis is an indoor plant, temperatures will not be a hassle. However, always maintain the correct temperature so that your plant does not lose on its vitality. Higher temperatures could make the plant look less appealing.

Tip: You should maintain a threshold temperature of 27°C/80°F.

Frequent feeding is not necessary. You can use fertilizers every couple of months. It is advisable not to add fertilizers during dormancy.

Tip: For oxalis, it's best to use liquid fertilizers for optimum results.

The ideal time to propagate an oxalis is during its dormant state. You can unearth the soil in the container to find bulb-like structures. You can place them in separate containers to have fresh plants growing from them.

Tip: If your plant isn't growing at the right time, ensure that light is adequate. If your plant has bloomed heavily in the past year, it probably requires a dormant period.

This is highly recommended when your plant becomes bushy and outgrows the container. It may become nutrient-deficient. Always water your plant well, a couple of days ahead of repotting.

Tip: Always add pot soil after repotting.

Common Diseases in Oxalis Plants
  • One of the most prevalent disease that attacks oxalis (Oxalis regnelli) is rust, which appears in the lower half of the leaves. It can hit all the breeds of the plant alike. Once hit, it's difficult to stop the problem all together. Hence, it is important to recognize the symptoms early.
  • The second important problem is iron deficiency, which is caused due to over irrigation of the plants, leading to poor iron intake.
  • Ringspot disease, caused by ringspot virus, is the third disorder that can affect oxalis adversely. This is attributed to the presence of aphids, alternatively known as 'plant lice'.

Things to Remember
  • Pests should be kept at bay at all costs in order to retain the vitality of the plant.
  • Care should be taken that the soil you choose shouldn't be deficient in some minerals and abundant in others. If this is the case, you might see new leaves turning yellow in no time.
  • Repotting and propagation are highly needed for oxalis. This is because they grow very rapidly and spread very fast. So, it may sometimes turn into unwanted weeds which most of us wouldn't like to have in our garden areas.
  • To grow a plant better, it is vital to know about its dormant tenure. Most oxalis types become dormant in summer, which lasts for up to three months at a stretch.
  • The leaves fold up at the slightest touch; therefore, it's cumbersome to carry out propagation and repotting.
Gardening is fun, and to watch a garden full of colors is bliss. Therefore, gardening with a little knowledge and caution is all you need to enjoy this bliss!