Oxalis Plant Care & Growing Guide

This plant is also known as a purple shamrock or purple clover.  It is a plant that you can grow indoors or outdoors. 

They are native to South America.  Read on to learn how to grow this beautiful plant.

What it Looks Like

This plant is a flowering perennial plant, which means this is a plant that lives more than two years.  It will go dormant in the winter and come back in the spring. It can be an attractive houseplant or as a low-growing foliage plant in the garden.  It can close its flowers and leaves at night and opens them back up in the daylight.  It normally has three heart-shaped leaves that are deep purple in color.  Each leaf has three sides and looks like a butterfly.

Oxalis Plant Care & Growing Guide

1. Light Requirement

For the Oxalis plant, light is very important.  If you are raising it indoors, make sure that they get sunlight of at least half a day.  It should be in front of a window for the best results. You want to make sure that it does not get too much direct sunlight.  They do need to have a lot of light to stimulate the leaves to open to create that shamrock look and keep that dark purple color.  They can grow in low-light conditions but it is best if they are in bright light. If you are planting it outdoors, choose an area with dappled sunlight or put them in containers and set them on your patio or deck.

2. Water

For this plant, you should keep it slightly moist but you should allow for the top inch or two to dry before you water it.  You do not want it to go dry, especially for a long period of time.  If you do, it could cause it to go into a dormancy period before it is time to do so.  Only water it enough for the water to drain out of the holes in the bottom.  Water an Oxalis plant when it needs it.  The plant needs more water in the summer than in the winter.   The water should be at room temperature

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When the plant naturally goes into its dormancy period, you should stop watering it and let the leaves dry up completely.  Do not water it at all when it is resting.  After a month, you can put it back in front of a sunny window and start to lightly water it.  When you see signs of growing you can water it a bit more.

3. Climate

It can live in the Hardy Zones of 8-11.

4. Soil

The best soil in which to plant Oxalis tubers or the plant, use rich fertile soil.  It also needs to be well-draining.  The potting soil needs to be porous so use a mixture of peat and potting soil for your containers.  You want to use a potting mix that will retain some moisture but does not become waterlogged or soggy.  You can tell if the potting mix allows enough drainage when it does not pool on the surface when you water it.  The water should also quickly drain out of the holes on the bottom.

You can also use a slow-release fertilizer that you use at the start of the growing season and then reapply three months later.


5. Temperature

Oxalis is a plant that prefers the temperature to be on the cooler side.  The ideal temperatures would be in the 60-75 degree Fahrenheit range.  Temperatures that are consistently over 80 degrees Fahrenheit can cause it to shut down and go into its dormant period.  If you have it growing outside the minimum temperature should be no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night.  Keep the plant away from direct air conditioning airflow.

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6. Repotting

After the rest period, you can divide the tubers and replant them.  Put the tubers in a pot one to one and a half inches apart and one to one and a half inches deep.  How many tubers you put in a pot depends on the size of the container.  Make sure that you do not space them too far apart or your pot will not look full when they bloom.  Put the tubers vertically, making sure that the narrower end is at the bottom.  Put them in a sunny window and lightly water.  You should have new growth within a couple of weeks.

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7. Height and Spread

It can grow to about 20 inches tall with a similar-sized spread.

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8. Trimming

When the Oxalis goes into its dormancy period and the leaves have completely dried up, it is time to trim the plant.  Cut off all the leaves and then you will need to put it in a dark cool place and let it rest for three to four weeks.

Is the Oxalis Plant Poisonous?

Yes, the leaves are poisonous to pets.  Because of its taste, if they get a nibble, they will not be back for more.  If you do grow these, keep them out of reach of pets and children

Common Oxalis Plant Diseases

Over-watering:  This could cause the corms to rot and die

Too much direct sunlight:  White spots could appear on the leaves.

Not enough light:  They can become leggy because the stems are stretching in order to get light

Not draining enough:  This can cause diseased roots, fuzzy white mold, or fungus gnats.

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One interesting fact about the Oxalis plant is that its leaves are edible but you should not eat too many as they contain oxalic acid.  A little of the leaves will not hurt you but if you eat too many, they can deter your body from absorbing calcium.  One thing to note is that when this plant is going into its dormant period it will look as if it is dying but it is not.  The plant may look droopy and the leaves may stop opening during the day but it is nothing to worry about.  It usually goes into its dormancy period in the summer.

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