Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here, and in super markets and florist stores everywhere you will see the Shamrock Plant also called Oxalis. The Shamrock plant, which some people think brings good luck is a member of the wood sorrel family. The interesting thing about the Oxalis is the way that it opens its leaves by day, and how it closes them at night. The shamrock plant is most often seen in solid green (like the above photos), but there are also ones with burgundy-purple colored leaves and some that even have a green leave with a burgundy-purple center. Depending on the plant chosen, the oxalis will have either a white or soft pink trumpet-shaped flower. The shamrock plant which is inexpensive ( I paid $3.33 for mine) and is easy to grow, can be enjoyed in any room of your house, as long as you have it out of direct-strong light. The oxalis would be happy, set back from a bright sunny windows, on an end table, kitchen counter, the tank of a toilet, or even on a dining room or kitchen table. Being that the plant opens and closes its leaves daily it is best placed in a location where people congregate often, so they can see its movements.
The shamrock plant will perform well for a month or two after you purchase it, but after a while it will stop flowering, and the leaves will start to wither, and the plant will look to lose vigor, which is a sign that it’s going into a dormant period. The dormant period for most oxalis is a few weeks, but some can go dormant through the Summer months. After mine has started to go dormant, I like to take the plant out of its pot, and break it up into a few smaller plants, then plant it outside in a shady location in the garden so I can enjoy its foliage along with other shade loving plants that I grow. If I decide to over-winter the oxalis I can dig it up before the killing frost, and bring it inside for Fall-Winter viewing.
The oxalis has a bulb that looks like a small peanut and there are many bulbs in each pot. I’ve found that, even though many say to re-pot it every year or two, I think it is better to break it up right at the beginning of its dormancy, and either plant it outside or re-potted it for inside keeping at that moment. Most shamrock plants offered for St Patrick’s day purchasing seem to be root-bound. The breaking up of the plant makes room for more new root growth to happen which helps the plant to come back full and thick again. I’ve seen oxalis plants that have been left in their pots, especially in office locations for a year or two, and no matter if they came back out of dormancy, seem to looked very weak with just a few leaves trying to hang on.
The oxalis likes a lightly moist soil during growth time, so water once a week or after sticking a finger into the soil to feels if it is dry. Cut back on watering when dormant so soil can dry out. Fertilize once or twice a month with a diluted all-purpose house plant food while plant is growing, stop feeding during dormant period.
So there you have it, a look at a Springtime tradition that my family and I’ve observed for years, the purchasing of the Oxalis/Shamrock plant. I hope that you found this quick post interesting, and maybe you too will go out, and this year try a shamrock plant yourself…. You know it could possibly bring you Good Luck. Happy St Patrick’s Day and Happy Spring to all!
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Daffodils…Planting, Fertilizing and Maintenance 4-8-2011,
Tulips…Planting, Fertilizing and Maintenance 4-19-2011,
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