Oxalis Triangularis

False Shamrock Plant

The false shamrock plant (oxalis triangularis) is a bulb type flowering plant which is also known as the purple shamrock or wood sorrel from the oxalis genus.



The small pinkish or white colored blooms are an attractive addition to the rich purple leaves, which are the star of the show. There is also the plain green type which look similar to a four leaf clover, minus a leaf.


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Description

leaf of a false shamrock

The false shamrock native to Brazil has picked up it's common name from the Irish shamrock symbol which refers to a triangular three leaved plant or the clover. These are often sold and bought as gift pot plants, especially just before St Patrick's day.

Two interesting aspects of this plant is it's photonastic response, which is it's reaction of opening up its leaves during the day and closing at night. And, the other is that it's known as an edible plant, although there seems to be a lot of discussion about the amount of oxalic acid having negative effects on humans, so I think would rather stick to vegetables to be safe.

While this page is about growing this plant indoors it's also possible to grow it outdoors in the correct conditions. Your shamrock grown indoors can enjoy the summer period outdoors; in a cool shaded spot, is best.

Flowering: Lot's of small trumpet shaped blooms sitting above the leaves appear during spring and summer, which you can expect to last a fair few weeks.

Level of care: Most indoors growers will able to grow the oxalis triangularis with ease, if attention is paid to it's basic care instructions and they're aware of it's dormancy period.

Dormancy Period

Like other bulb type plants the shamrock has a dormancy period - which is it's time for rest. They can go into dormancy after the spring and summer growing season which is noticeable when the leaves stop opening in daylight and it begins to look like it's lacking vitality (this can also happen at other times whenever your plant chooses). They can also temporarily go into dormancy if temperatures become too warm (above 80°F - 27°C) or it's lacking water and the soil becomes dry for a long period.

If the foliage begins to look withered and die off, stop watering and feeding and let the foliage die down. Once the foliage becomes brown you can remove it and await the next growing period, which could be anything from 2 - 4 weeks. Once you see new growth, normal watering and feeding instructions can be provided.

Facts

Origin: Brazil.
Names: False shamrock, purple sharock, wood sorrel (common). -- Oxalis Triangularis [Syn. Oxalis regnellii] (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): 12in tall.
Poisionous for pets: Toxic to cats and dogs.

false shamrock on table

Picture of the triangularis

False Shamrock Plant Care

Temperature: Temperature: Between 60 - 70°F (15 - 21°C) "no higher than 75°F - 24°C" seems to be the ideal temperatures during the day and no lower than about 55°F (13°C) during the night.
Light: A good shaded spot within the home from direct sunlight is ideal. Sat back from a window in a bright room is suitable, but if the room is more north facing, place much closer to the window.
Watering: One of the worst things you can do with bulbs is over-water, which rots the bulb. Allowing the soil to begin to dry at the top is a good measurement of when to water again. Remember to stop watering if the plant becomes dormant.
Soil: Most potting mixes that drain well, which are also well aerated will do the trick.
Fertilizer: A diluted liquid fertilizer is helpful to use during the growing period. Feed once every 1 or 2 weeks. No feeding is required during dormancy.
Re-Potting: You may want to re-pot your plant once every 1 - 2 years (during dormancy period) and use the same pot or move up a size bigger, unless your removing offsets which reduces the size of the plant "or keeps it to the same size".
Humidity: Average room humidity is fine.
Propagation: If you want to propagate your oxalis triangularis you'll find it's best to do this towards the end of it's dormant period (I would do this after 2 weeks of dormancy to be sure of timing). The bulb will have to be removed from the pot and then you may remove the small bulb offsets which are re-potted to produce new plants. Be patient with the new plants and expect them to appear a little later than the main plant.
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Other Bulb Type Plants