Oxalis

This big group of plants includes the well-known lucky shamrock.

Colorful Combinations

While many oxalis species have beautiful blossoms, these plants are most commonly grown for foliage. You can often find them in florist shops around St. Patrick's Day because their leaves resemble shamrocks and are often regarded as a sign of luck. Their leaves come in shades of purple, burgundy, pink, green, and silvery gray.

The plants bloom with small five-petal blossoms with intricate details on the inner petals. These blossoms often begin as tubular flowers that twist open to show off dainty stripes and dark-color throats. They can be found in shades of pink and white, while other species feature yellow and orange blossoms. There are species like Oxalis versicolor with flowers resembling peppermint candy: mostly white with an edge of red on the backside, creating a swirled look as the petals twist open.

Oxalis Care Must-Knows

Growing conditions can be quite different among the numerous species in this genus. One of the best ways to learn how to care for your oxalis is to research its origin for information on its natural habitat. Then you can understand its proper growing conditions. Many species of oxalis tend to be alpine plants. They need well-drained soil and won't tolerate any standing moisture. These are also typically cool-growing plants. They don't care for warm summer weather and may even have a summer dormancy period.

Many other species are woodland plants that prefer more shaded garden settings and are generally more tolerant of typical garden conditions. There are tropical species that aren't hardy, are accustomed to warmer climates, and will fare better in the summer months.

In general, oxalis are pretty versatile in their sun requirements. Sun exposure varies depending on your species. Many of the bulbous types of oxalis require a period of dormancy. The time of year they become dormant varies from species to species. During this period of dormancy, it's essential to withhold water to encourage dormancy and prevent the bulbs from rotting. This dormant period is also the best time to divide plants.

More Varieties of Oxalis

01 of 07

Oxalis Overview

Description This diverse genus is comprised of hundreds of species. There's a wide range of annuals, perennials, and even tropical types of oxalis. Many oxalis are bulb-forming plants while others form vigorous spreading plants that can create dense colonies. Several species can also make wonderful, easy-to-grow houseplants.
Genus Name Oxalis
Common Name Oxalis
Plant Type Annual, Bulb, Houseplant, Perennial
Light Part Sun, Shade, Sun
Height 6 to 6 inches
Width 6 to 12 inches
Flower Color Orange, Pink, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Chartreuse/Gold, Gray/Silver, Purple/Burgundy
Season Features Fall Bloom, Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom, Winter Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant, Groundcover
02 of 07

'Iron Cross' oxalis

Iron Cross Oxalis Oxalis tetraphylla
Laurie Black

Oxalis tetraphylla 'Iron Cross' offers leaves divided into four leaflets. Each center is decorated with a purple blotch that looks great against the pink flowers. It grows 10 inches tall and wide. Zones 8-9, though it also thrives as a houseplant.

03 of 07

'Molten Lava' oxalis

'Molten Lava' oxalis vulcanicola
Marty Baldwin

This variety produces stunning orange-chartreuse foliage and decorative golden-yellow flowers all spring and summer. It grows 10 inches tall and wide. Zones 9-11, or try it as a houseplant.

04 of 07

'Purple' oxalis

Oxalis tetraphylla 'Iron Cross'
Jay Wilde

Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis bears rich burgundy-purple foliage and pink-blushed white flowers. It grows 12 inches tall and 8 inches wide. Zones 7-10, though it's also a good variety to grow indoors.

05 of 07

Redwood sorrel

Redwood sorrel Oxalis oregana
Mike Jensen

This cultivar is native to areas of the Pacific Northwest. It bears white or pink flowers in spring and summer over silver-splashed foliage. This groundcover grows 8 inches tall. Zones 7-9

06 of 07

Silver shamrock

Oxalis adenophylla
Peter Krumhardt

Oxalis adenophylla is an easy-growing groundcover with silvery-blue foliage and pink flowers in late spring. It grows 5 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Zones 6-8

07 of 07

'Zinfandel' oxalis

Oxalis vulcanicola 'Zinfandel'
Kim Cornelison 

The 'Zinfandel' variety bears rich-purple foliage and golden-yellow flowers all summer. It grows 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide. Perennial in Zones 9-11; grow as an annual or indoor plant in colder areas.

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