Oxalis: A great plant indoors and out
Oxalis – often called shamrock – has beautiful foliage and plenty of dainty blossoms. Plus, it's easy to care for indoors and out.
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Oxalis thrive in part shade, preferring well-drained soil that is kept evenly moist, but not wet.Skip to next paragraph
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In contrast, one attractive cultivar, Oxalis vulcanicola ‘Zinfandel’, which has purplish-black foliage and yellow flowers, is, in fact, a sun worshipper, although it also does just fine in partial shade.
Oxalis plants relish lots of water, and will wilt if the soil is allowed to dry out. They will also sometimes wilt during the hottest part of a summer’s afternoon, so it’s best to protect them from exposure to strong sunlight.
One rather charming trait of the plant is that the leaves are capable of movement, folding down at sunset, when drought-stressed, or in heavy rain.
They are heavy feeders, so when they're in active growth, fertilize at half strength with a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants (such as 15-30-15).
This is my first year growing oxalis, so I’m still in the “trial and error” stage. Late last summer, I purchased ‘Wine’ and ‘Velvet’ from the award-winning Charmed series of oxalis plants because I was intrigued by the dark purple, almost black foliage of the plants.
My friend Marietta is into plants with black foliage, and her enthusiasm for the dark side is catching, I've found.
If you have the room, oxalis can be brought insideto a right location to overwinter as a house plant. Or, you can do as I did --- bring the container-grown plants inside, hold back on watering, and overwinter them in a cool, dark place in an unheated basement.
April 1, I’ll move the containers to a plant stand under lights, water them, and, if all goes well and according to plan, the cycle should start all over again.
Betty Earl is one of nine garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin' It. She's the author of “In Search of Great Plants: The Insider’s Guide to the Best Plants in the Midwest.” She also writes a regular column for Chicagoland Gardening Magazine and The Kankakee Journal and numerous articles for Small Gardens Magazine, American Nurseryman, Nature’s Garden, and Midwest Living Magazine, as well as other national magazines. She is a garden scout for Better Homes and Gardens and a regional representative for The Garden Conservancy.
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