What’s What? Oxalis, Clover, and Shamrock

Are you looking for something low maintenance to fill your garden containers and summer window boxes or just need a little extra visual interest in your landscape? Look no further than richly colored oxalis, commonly known as a shamrock. Sometimes used interchangeably, oxalis and shamrocks are unrelated to clover.


purple oxalis

Oxalis, which are often sold as shamrocks, have clover-shaped leaves that come in shades of green, red, or purple, and some are patterned. Oxalis can be grown outdoors in the spring and summer, and make easy care houseplants year-round. They like bright, indirect light and bloom with dainty flowers in fall, winter, or spring. Oxalis is a photophilic plant, meaning the leaves and flowers close at night and open wide again in the morning.


SHOP OXALIS

Unrelated to oxalis, clover is the common name for a groundcover plant in the genus Trifolium. In Latin, trifolium translates to ‘three leaf’. Clover is a groundcover most used in lawns, and fields. It will thrive in areas that are poorly drained or too shady for a conventional lawn. Clover is making a resurgence as an eco-friendlier lawn alternative. Since it is nitrogen fixating, it can supply nutrients to poor soil. The most popular is white clover because it is relatively low growing, tolerates close mowing, and overpowers weeds.

A shamrock is the symbol we associate with St. Patrick’s Day. Technically, there is no such thing as a shamrock plant. The lovely plants sold as decorations for St. Patrick’s Day are really oxalis. The word shamrock comes from the Irish word Seamrog meaning ‘little clover’ or ‘young clover’.

Add some luck to your landscape and plant low maintenance oxalis in your garden. Here are a few tips from our experts on caring for your oxalis plants:

  • Whether houseplant, container plant, or in the garden, let your oxalis dry out completely before watering.
  • The plant will go dormant for a few weeks at a time (the bulbs are restoring their energy). When this occurs, stop watering for a few weeks and then begin again. Your oxalis will grow back fuller each time.
  • Oxalis can’t be beat for its incredible foliage and easy-care habit. Their ornamental appeal makes them the perfect plant for your rock gardens, borders, containers, and as a houseplant.

Keep away from cats, dogs, and horses. Although its bitter taste is a natural deterrent.


SHOP OXALIS

Image : Shutterstock

Sources: Wisconsin.edu, Alamanac.com