Oxalis triangularis – How to Grow and Care

If you are planning to have a natural caring and beautiful houseplant, I would like to suggest you grow an Oxalis triangularis also known as False Shamrock plant, a popular ornamental plant.

What is the Oxalis triangularis?

Background

The scientific name of the False Shamrock plant is Oxalis triangularis, which belongs to the family Oxalidaceae. It is native to South America, Brazil, and hardy in USDA zone 8-11. Other common names are purple shamrock, wood sorrel, and love plant. The plant has picked up its common name from the Irish shamrock symbol that refers to a triangular three-leaved plant or the clover.

Oxalis triangularis grows up to 12 inches tall and about 24 inches wide. The purple shamrock plant is a bulb-type flowering plant having deep maroon leaves. It has three purple-shaped heart leaves, which may be purple, nearly black, reddish, or green. The leaves of the purple shamrock plant close at night and reopen during the daytime. They bloom small e trumpet-shaped flowers during summer and spring. The variation of colors of the bloom is purple, white, or pink. It is quite an attractive when mixed with plants with white or silver foliage like Dusty Miller or Spider Plant. The Oxalis triangularis plant is edible but toxic to pets, and they are both rabbit and deer resistant.

White blooms of Purple Shamrock
White blooms of Purple Shamrock

Scientific classification of Oxalis triangularis

Kingdom:Plantae
Clade:Tracheophytes
Order:Oxalidales
Family:Oxalidaceae
Genus:Oxalis
Species:O. triangularis

Varieties of Oxalis triangularis plants

The Oxalis triangularis plant falls into one of three subspecies: subsp. papilionacea, subsp. Glabrifolia and subsp. lepida. Some of the species of this purple shamrock plant are reddish, green, or purple. Some of the varieties of plants are as follows:

Oxalis triangularis Francis

Oxalis triangularis Francis is a bright purple shamrock. It is one of the most popular cultivated forms, and it is vividly purple—the flower blooms during its flowering season from white to lavender-pink.

Oxalis triangularis Charmed Jade                                                                                         

Oxalis triangularis charmed Jade is bright green. This variety of false shamrock plant is not purple or red range. It is not as popular as the darker varieties, but it is still an absolute delight. It blooms medium-green color with ivory or white flowers.

Oxalis triangularis Ebony Allure

Ebony Allure is a lovely variation that is hardy in zones 7-9. The direct sunlight can burn the leaves, so it is best kept in partial shade. The leaves of this variety of Oxalis triangularis plants are so dark that they can be mistaken for black. The flowers of Ebony Allure begin as a pale pink and fade to white.

Purple triangular leaves of a False Shamrock plant
Purple-triangular leaves of Oxalis triangularis plant

Where to grow an Oxalis triangularis plant?

The Oxalis triangularis plant is quickly grown in light, medium, well-drained soils. A bright direct light or a little part of shade is preferable. Do not propagate the plant in a dark location.

How to grow Oxalis triangularis plant?

The Oxalis triangularis is lovely, both indoors and outdoors. It is a perfect houseplant, and the purple shamrock plant can be propagated by seed or division. They can be grown alone or in combination with other plants.

How to grow an Oxalis triangularis plant from the division method?

The division method for growing an Oxalis triangularis plant is the most reliable. Try to avoid cutting rhizome while using this method for propagation. Divide the bulbs of the plant from its roots into a smaller clump.

Steps to grow a plant from the division method are:

  1. Fill 2/3 of the container with a well-drained potting mix.
  2. Water the soil to settle it down.
  3. Place the purple shamrock bulbs spacing few inches apart and 1.5 inches deep in the soil. You can put three bulbs in a single pot.
  4. Cover the bulbs with soil and water it.
  5. Place the container in the location with bright indoor light.
  6. After 2-3 weeks, you will see new growth in the bulb.

How to grow an Oxalis triangularis plant from seeds?

You can also propagate an Oxalis triangularis through seeds. The seeds of this plant are readily available in the garden centers or grocery stores.

Steps to grow an Oxalis triangularis plant from seeds are:

  1. Fill 2/3 of the container with a well-drained potting mix.
  2. Water the soil to settle it down.
  3. Sow some seeds on the top of soil about ½ inch deep.
  4. Add a thin layer of soil above the planted seeds, and water it.
  5. Cover the top of the container with plastic to keep the soil moist.
  6. Place the container or pot in the sunny location with bright direct sunlight.
  7. After a few days, you will start to see germinations.
  8. Remove the plastic cover and place it in a sunny location.

How to Care Oxalis triangularis plant?

This plant is easy to care for. You should care for the purple shamrock plant properly. Some of the tips for caring this plant are as follows:

Light and temperature requirement

The plant grows well in bright to medium direct sunlight, and it can also tolerate a pleasant shade. This plant grows well in the morning light. The temperature should be between 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. The temperature should not be higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, as it can cause the problem to the plant.

Water and humidity

You should allow the soil to dry in between the watering of the plant. Overwatering the plant can rot the bulb, and even kill the plant. Remember to stop watering the plant, if the plant becomes dormant. Water the plant once in a week. Average room humidity is suitable for the false shamrock plant.

Soil

The Oxalis triangularis grows well in the potting mix that drains well. If the soil is too heavy, then it may rot the bulb or fibrous root. For better results, use a lightweight potting mix and a slow-release fertilizer. Oxalis triangularis likes moist soil, but they do not grow well in overly wet soil. The soil should be loamy and sandy type having a pH value of 6.1 to 6.5.

Fertilization

Feed the plant once every 1 or 2 weeks. Do not feed in winter and fall when the plant during dormancy. You should not fertilize the plant for the first year of growth. You can use commercial fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer, but organic compost is the best.

Pruning

It does not take long for the maintenance of oxalis triangularis. Pruning this plant is very easy. Remove the spent flower stalks once the blooms fade. Trim the brown foliage to about 1 inch from the plant’s base, and leave the mulch to cool the plant’s base. Move the plant to a cold and dark place for few days until the plant becomes healthy.

Propagation

The purple shamrock plant can be propagated by seed or division. The most reliable method of propagation is through division. This plant can be grown alone or in combination with other plants. The reproduction of the plant is done best when it is in the dormant stage. For the propagation of plants, the deep pot is preferred rather than the shallow one.

Treatment of various diseases of the Oxalis triangularis

Pest and treatment

The main pests the Oxalis triangularis plant experiences are:

• Whiteflies

• Aphids

• Fungus gnats

• Mealybugs

• Red Spider mites

If the False Shamrock plant shows any sign of these insect pest infestations, do not hesitate to use insecticides. Apply Neem oil or Silicon Dioxide for seven days. You can also use homemade sprays, and test it in leaves before applying it to the whole plant. Soap spray is an excellent homemade spray to remove these pests. Mix two tablespoons of soap to a gallon of water and spray it to the plant properly.

Spray oil or sprinkle some powder on your plant so that there is a light layer on the leaves and the soil. The bugs and insects will walk through it and die soon after it comes in contact with them. Using yellow sticky traps helps to cut down the population of Fungus gnat, or you can also try using dryer sheets to remove them. You can also use a cotton ball soaked in alcohol to wipe away these insect rogues.

Diseases and treatment

The false shamrock plant suffers from a lot of issues. The problems mostly occur when they are grown in poorly-drained soil or low light. Excessive watering and poor circulation also lead to issues such as:

Powdery mildew

Powdery Mildew on False Shamrock plant
Powdery Mildew on Oxalis triangularis

Symptoms: White powdery mildew in the leaves of False Shamrock plant

Treatment: Spraying milk solution or Neem water can stop it from spreading.

Root rot

Symptoms: Wilting and discolored leaves, brown roots.

Treatment: Remove brown roots with sterilized scissors, and replant affected plants in fresh soil and good drainage.

Burnt leaves

Symptoms: Wilting and abscission of the leaf.

Treatment: Avoid over-fertilization and water the plant slowly.

Rust

Rust on the leaf of False Shamrock
Rust on the leaf of False Shamrock

Symptoms: Pale leaf spots, and small light yellow flecks on the foliage.

Treatment: Remove infected parts and destroy them.

Botrytis

Symptoms: Discoloration, spotting, and wilting of False Shamrock flowers

Treatment: Prune plants to improve air circulation and add the right amount of organic compost.

Uses of an Oxalis triangularis

Some of the uses of this plant are listed below:

  1. This houseplant purifies the indoor air and adds natural beauty.
  2. The leaves of oxalis triangularis have antimicrobial properties.
  3. It helps to purify the blood and maintain cholesterol levels.
  4. It is used for decorative purposes, and are also gifted.
  5. The false shamrock plant attracts butterflies and bees for the pollination process.