You don’t need the luck of the Irish to grow oxalis


A popular plant found at the florist and in stores around St. Patrick’s Day is the three-leafed clover shaped indoor bulb plant called the Oxalis.

The originally shamrock plant that Saint Patrick picked in a field to illustrate a example of a Christian doctrine to the people of Ireland was the yellowed flowered clover known as Trifolium dubium. As St. Patrick’s Day festivities are celebrated, the shamrock plant has been associated as a good luck charm to many.

The shamrock, a plant that has three leaves has been an important symbol for this special day throughout the years passed down to others through stories and fables from Ireland.

The yellow clover, Trifolium dubium is classified as a weed or miniature wildflower that blooms outdoors along roadsides and fields from May to July. This plant will not grow well indoors so the oxalis plant has taken on the name of the shamrock houseplant that is sold today to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The yellow clover, Trifolium dubium is not a roadside or field plant that can be found in the Mohawk Valley, but may be found in a few other parts of the state.

The indoor bulb shamrock plant, the oxalis is easy to grow.

The plant will bloom for a long period of time. The blooms come in a variety of colors, pink, white, yellow, red and purple. The plants have slender flower stems that spring out from the low-growing clover shaped foliage.

There are over 500 plant species found in the Oxalis genus.

The shamrock, oxalis plant requires a sunny location during the winter months. The plant needs at least ½ of a day of sunlight. If they do not receive enough sunlight, their leaves will fold up and their blooms will close.

When the plant is in bloom, the plant prefers temperatures between 50-65 degrees F at night and no greater than 75 degrees F during the day. The plant likes moist soil and should be fertilized monthly during the growing period of the bulbs.  

When the flower blooms start to fade and the foliage starts to turn yellow this is a sign that the plant will need a resting period. Gradually reduce the amount of water you are giving the plant and stop giving the plant fertilizer. You may cut back the dying foliage.

The plant then should be moved to a cool, dark place for two to three months. At the end of the resting period, one will see new foliage appearing. The plant is now ready to be repotted and placed back in a sunny window.  

When repotting time arrives, one should find more tiny bulbs in their existing pot these are called bulblets. These bulblets can be divided and placed into another pot to grow a new shamrock, oxalis plant. Usually six bulblets placed in a shallow pot will grow into a nice sized plant to share.  

For more information, visit our website or call our horticulture hotline at 315-736-3394, extension 127.

Happy New Year from the CCE-Oneida County Master Gardener Volunteers.


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