Caring for Oxalis

leira(6 MA)March 17, 2006

I bought an oxalis recently (the kind sold as "shamrocks" around this time of year, with white flowers). It's sitting in a southwest window with lots of afternoon light, and doing great so far, but how do I care for it in the long-term?

My grandmother always grew oxalis, but she never really had enough light, and they got spindly and sad-looking. She loved them anyway.

There was a sign at the garden shop warning that too much water would make them leggy.

This particular oxalis is definitely in need of repotting, because it's fairly large for its pot size, and it dries out quickly. But...

- Should I wait for it to stop blooming before repotting it?

- Should I divide it as I repot, since it seems to have a fair number of bulbs in a small area? Or just put it in a bigger pot?

- How often and for how long should I expect it to bloom?

- What else should I do to care for it in the long term?



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Linda, I'd wait for flowers to fade before repotting. And when you do, don't overpot..they like a tight fit..I believe a small pot is what gets them to flower.
'Too much water will make them leggy'...only if the soil is continuously wet or plant is sitting in water.
Dividing or placing in large pot is a matter of taste. I prfer one big plant vs two smaller plants. But that's a matter of opinion.
Blooming depends on the purple oxalis bloomed most of the summer months last year.
The best way to keep your oxalis going is by giving it bright light all winter. and placing outside in summer, if possible. Water soil when it's dry. I mist my leaves but it's not necessary. Seems like the more sun they get the longer the flowers remain..Toni

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 11:08PM
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leira(6 MA)

If they bloom all Summer, that would be great, but I'll need to bite the bullet and carefully repot before that. It just dries out too fast right now...and since this is a desert and all, I don't want to think about what will happen when the hot weather really kicks in. For the same reason, I'd worry about putting it outside, but I might give it a shot.

Thanks for the info.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 1:15AM
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Linda, do you know what type of soil it's potted in? And what size pot? It might be planted in too well-draining cactus soil which is why it's drying out fast. Feel the soil..if it's sandy then that could be your problem..

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 5:26PM
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leira(6 MA)

It doesn't look like cactus soil.

It's just an awful lot of bulbs in a fairly small pot. They're packed in, and the natural angle of the stems creates a plant that's at least twice the diameter of the pot.

I believe that the drying out is due to an awfully low soil-to-plant ratio. I should probably move it up to a bigger pot before summer, when the drying out will undoubtedly be worse.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 8:00PM
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Hi everyone, its been awhile, my pukey puter was down. On to the plants. I bought new ones, for some reason mine all died out. They were old, and I think the soil was a low grade. See you all taught me about good soil.

They were weird, because they would seem to die off, I would water and they would come back alive. They didn't come back this time. I love these plants. I too believe the tighter the plant is the more it blooms. I have a purple one this time, and a green one (big clover leaves).
Lots of flowers on them.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 8:45PM
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GrowHappy(z7 MD)

My oxalis when dormant last summer and I didn't know that's what it was doing. LOL I was about to toss it because there was nothing- no stems, leaves, nada, zilch. Toni told me to keep it because there were bulbs underneath the soil and that I would begin to see new growth soon. I'm glad I listened to her. Within about 1 week, the plant started with new growth which quickly became very abundant. It bloomed basically all summer. Now it's barely hanging on again, but should be bursting with lots of new growth in a few weeks.

These plants don't like a lot of fertilizer either. Keep the soil evenly moist- not wet and not dry. They hate dryness.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 9:05PM
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Holy Cow GH I sure did miss that one from Toni. Oh well there in the garbage now. They just looked plum dead, no leaves, no nothing, nada too. I will take heed of that last sentence too> Thank you! I swear you learn something new everyday, even if its the hard way.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 1:30PM
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Pistilo, that's ashame you tossed them..they do go dormant, lose leaves, but as the days lenghten the leaves resume. I wouldn't give up..they should be on sale right now from ST. Patrick's day so maybe you can get a nice little plant..Toni

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 7:52PM
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I am new to owning an oxalis. I have one that has been growing like crazy. I was thinking about splitting it into smaller pots.

I was wondering if anyone knows if the windiness of the stems is a sign of unhealthiness and if I should wait to split it until it is healthier.

If that windiness is fine then what is the best way to split one of these plants? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 2:39PM
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Chris, maybe you should wait until flowers fade altogether. Carefully separate then place bulbs in a second pot (small)
Here's a pic of mine that's now in bloom..Toni

Here is a link that might be useful: RE: Caring for Oxalis

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 3:35PM
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Is it better to put an oxalis in shade or sun when placed outdoors? If sun is best, which is better afternoon sun or morning sun? Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 10:07PM
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Cali, mine sits in the gets morning sun and some south sun in the afternoon. When I bring it indoors in autumn, it's placed in a se window. Toni

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 3:44PM
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indianpipe(z8 OR)

i have had a purple leafed (and light pink flowered) oxalis that has survived for 2 years (though last winter, indoor in pots). However, this winter it is dying in three different pots, in three different locations (including one pot at a different house completely). It does not seem to be water or temperature (in my general intuitive opinion). The leaves have slowly gone, one at a time, turning a bright pink and being unable to open, and then shriveling and falling over. I have just one leaf left in one of the three pots. In the other two I have looked at the bulb/tuber structure (bright orange) and it looks like when I first planted it 2 years ago off a mother. Are these simply dormant due to low light short day winters? would they likely grow back in the spring--what is the best way to care for the bulbs during the interim time?


    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 12:09AM
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webkat5(Z6a MO)

If they are going dormant, they won't need nearly as much water. They will, from time to time (especially if repotted or divided), disappear and go into a dormant state.

Leira, what species do you have? Some are perennials in your zone. I have both Strawberry Oxalis (Oxalis crassipes 'Rosea') and White Oxalis (Oxalis crassipes 'Alba')...both are perennial and don't do as well indoors as the Oxalis regnellii varieties.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 11:28AM
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I also am noticing that my oxalis leaves have been dying off. But it is still flowering. I was hoping to split the root to make 2 plants but as per hopefulauthor's suggestion I was waiting until it stopped flowering. How do I recognize dormancy versus dying? My plant has purple leaves and pink flowers just as indianpipe. It has survived well indoors but was less hearty ourdoors. This is the second year that I have had it and it bloomed all throughout last year. To my knowledge it did not have a dormant period. Could it be entering one now? If so, when should I split it and what should it look like if it is dormant? Thanks so much for your help!!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 9:12AM
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webkat5(Z6a MO)

Cali_4j, it sounds as if you have Oxalis regnellii atropurpurea?

If so, they will go dormant if you transplant them, or if they decided that it is winter....mine have not undergone a complete "dormancy period" unless I have recently transplanted them.

I move all of my tender Oxalis outdoors in the spring to the north side of the house. They do great full and happy. When I bring them in, they get a bit leggy since I have no room in the sunny windows for them.

If you want to rejuvinate them, just dig them up and repot them. Any foliage that was there will die off and soon they will send fresh foliage out.

Once, I almost killed this plant (had it mixed in with my Oxalis regnellii) because the pot stopped releasing water.
They nearly rotted...had to perform an emergency transplant... :o)

The Oxalis crassipes can stay outside year round in my zone...but, along the same lines, the Oxalis regnellii do appreciate some outdoor time in the warm months (so they can have a warm cycle). I think I will let the frost force mine into dormancy next year...will probably be good for them.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 10:10AM
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Can I force my oxalis into dormancy? I really want to split it to give part of it to a friend who has been wanting one. Is it ok to split and re-pot if it is not dormant?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 6:35PM
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webkat5(Z6a MO)

Sure you fact that will force it into a short dormancy...

Be sure to let whoever is getting them to not water very much while they are not in a foliage state.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 7:07PM
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I went ahead and split my plant a few days ago and it still looks pretty pathetic.

About how long does it does it take for the stems and leaves to recover from the trauma?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 7:20PM
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webkat5(Z6a MO)

The leaves and stems will probably disappear...don't despair, that is what dormancy is...they are resting...they will reappear at a later date, fuller and better than ever.

I am not sure what zone you are in, but if they are in a very well draining pot, they will spring back to life once you place them outdoors in a shady location. It might take a few weeks...have patience.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 9:05AM
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    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 11:05PM
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I have been reading this thread about Oxalis and thought I might add a little of my success with this great plant. I began my Oxalis around St Patrick's Day 8 years ago. I purchased a one green and one purple plant. They did well for that spring and summer but really fizzled out in the fall (indoors).

Since then I have potted them together in one large pot. I keep it outside for the summer (May 15 until October 15). At the end of each season (Winter and Summer) I cut the plant down to the soil level and let it rest for a few weeks. Buy the end of the second week it begins to come back and within 4 weeks it is in full regalia again. I have split off several of the bulb like risomes at each season's end and have started new pots for family and friends with great success.

I situate the plant to get morning light, give it normal watering and feed it once a month with Peter's house plant food.

Try combining the two colors (purple and green) The green has pure white flowers and the purple has white flowers with a purple cast.

In my experience, this plant is indestructible but needs to be cut back twice each year.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 9:49AM
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Thanks Sandy..Your Oxalis must be huge, since you can divide and give as gifts..Do you have a pic of this combo?
Of course we all have our own ways of working with plants..I allow leaves to drop on their own, then remove dead foliage. I agree,they need a rest in winter, but not as long as some plants, u know? 4-6 wks of little water and no food, they send out new leaves..The first time it happened I thought it was a it's a normal process in growing Oxalis..I wonder how many ppl toss their plants thinking they're dead..Toni

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 2:57PM
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I have a very full green oxalis -the flowers just now petering off. From what I understand from this thread is that I can slow down the watering and/or chop off all the foliage. Do I have to put it in a dark closet for the winter or just let it slow down? And if I chop all the greenery back (which sounds cruel and drastic) will it surely come back strong?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 10:07PM
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Alison, if you can supply bright light in winter, there's a good chance your Oxalis will only go semi-dormant. But if it seems like it's going dormant, then treat it as it is.
Withhold feeding for one.
I wouldn't chop the leaves back..if they're going to drop, let Mother Nature take over..Before you know it, more leaves will grow in. I don't know if green Oxalis care differs from Purple..I think the green a bit more difficult than purple..I recently bought a green tree Oaxlis that grows upright, and sprouts yellow flowers.
Even if you did chop off the leaves, I'm sure in time they'll grow in, but why bother? Let them fall naturally..
Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 11:31PM
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tlcactus(KY. zone 6)

Moved to KY. last year and am also wondering about if the Purple Oxalis can stay in the ground all winter or do they have to be taken in. I am in Zone 6 in Western KY. Right in the middle. I received a start from one of my sister-in-laws just before she died and don't want to lose the plants.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 7:33PM
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mingtea(z9 Tucson)

oxalis aren't hard at all, and all the advice as been good. i just wanted to add that my husband had one back before we were dating (i believe he named it "stimpy") and if he could care for it, then yes, it is indestructible. it was never repotted, watered inconsistently and received bright light in the kitchen window.
the roots are called "corms" and they look like little carrots. if you decide you don't like how the plant is looking, go ahead and cut it down to the soil. it'll resprout soon. too bad stimpy came from an old girlfried! he didn't pass the plant cull when we moved out of state. muahahahaha.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 11:03PM
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the red oxalis here in Albuquerque zone 7 does well both indoors as a house plant & outdoors where it grows year after year even after the 11 degrees we got last winter & even colder. Outdoors it does better for me in partial shade but indoors I have it in a hanging basket in an east facing window with all that sun & it also does well year after year. I water when I see the leaves start to droop a bit.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 5:33PM
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I just decided to do a little research on oxalis plants as mine seem to suffer. I am glad to hear about the dormant period as things make a little more sense now. However, mine seems to have been semi-dormant for an awfully long time now and I'm wondering if there's something I should be doing differently.

I received a beautiful, full, healthy plant in May that got too dry at one point, losing plenty of leaves, recovered somewhat but has never gone back to being nearly as full as it was when I got it. I don't think I overwater it and it hasn't dried out quite as badly since that one incident. I did top up the soil at the end of the summer but that didn't seem to help. It is sprouting very few new leaves now and hopefully this means it's coming out of it's dormant period. Flowers have stopped coming up in the past 2 weeks or so. Does this make sense? Is there anything I should expect or do differently?

Thanks for such a helpful thread!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 12:48PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Bare-root and repot into a durable, free-draining soil now. Divide if appropriate to make new plantings. Keep the plant barely moist until it starts to really wake up (after mid-March, probably), then water regularly, but be sure your soil isn't overly water-retentive, as it could easily promote root or crown rot in this plant.
I would fertilize with any of the 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers, like 24-8-16, 12-4-8, or my favorite, Foliage-Pro 9-3-6.

After it blooms, when/if it starts to die back, let it go dry/dormant for 3-4 months before repeating the process.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 6:29PM
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As Al suggested, since many of my plants respond much better to a free draining mix, try the gritty mix since this fits Al's recommendations perfectly.
Thank you for a suggestion made just like this to me years ago. The best advice I could of ever taken.;-)

1 part bark, 1 part turface, and 1 part granite grit.

Idea's on where to find the supplies.

Here is a link also that will explain what I use.


Here is a link that might be useful: Great container soil info

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 7:24PM
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I just got one of these as a gift. It's in pretty bad soil so I'm going to repot it as soon as I can find someone selling perlite for less than seven dollars a bag (what the heck..?), but what I was wondering was this -- can the tubers/corms be exposed at all or do they need to be buried?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 6:59PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

They should be buried - not because they won't tolerate air exposure after they are established, but because they won't tolerate it well UNTIL they're established.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 11:24PM
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Just repotted it. The corms were at the very bottom of the container and I raised them up about half way. No idea what the ideal depth is but all the way at the bottom seems to deep/restrictive.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 8:22PM
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Hello All! This is my first time working with Oxalis and I've tried to research how to properly care for the plant as well as understanding their timeline for growth but it is hit and miss. Here's my dilemma...

I live in CA zone 9 and purchased a bag of 50 Oxalis Triangularis and Regnelli corms from I wanted to use them as a ground cover in my front and back yard. I planted them all in January because the website said to put them in the ground right away. I potted a few indoors at the same time.

The Oxalis I potted indoors sprouted within a few weeks under a South facing window. Their only problem is that I think they are leggy. The leaves are about 2-3 inches across when open (they look normal) but they are about 5-6 inches tall. I'm not sure if that is normal. They certainly don't look full and short like the ones in the nursery this time of year. Fearing they were not getting enough light, I added a "grow light" (Exo-terra Repti Glo 2.0). So far it's been a week and I can't tell if this is helping or not. My indoor temperatures are 66 at night 70 in the day.

The ones I planted outdoors haven't done a thing. I noticed this week (3/23/11) that there are one-two 1/2 inch leaves popping up in my front yard where I planted the Regnelli corms but they look like slug food. The backyard Oxalis don't even show signs of growth. The only main difference between the front and the back is that the backyard soil drains slower. I used redwood bark to cover my landscape front and back, not very thick, just so I don't have exposed ground. Not sure if this is affecting the growth of my Oxalis (ie, keeping the ground too moist). Outdoor temperatures are from low 40s at night to mid 60's during the day and we get frequent rain off and on.

I did put a few corms in a pot outdoors in the front. Those look about the size of the ones in the ground in the front, about 1/2 inch wide but don't have any height. Just enough clearance for the leaves to close. No signs of slugs here.

I researched a natural way to rid slugs and found coffee grounds work. Applied it this week so it's too soon to tell if it's effective.

Now that you have an idea of what's happening, anything stand out? I was hoping for a nice bushy ground cover... Still, I'm happy to see some growth.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 3:06AM
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Amccour. The corms should be completely buried, unlike Amaryllis where its bulb sticks halfway out of soil.

Rabbit. You said your Oxalis looks spindly...How many corms did you use, and what diameter is the pot?

My Oxalis was started from 1 corm. It was potted in a 2" semi-shallow container. As time passed, corms multipied. As they multiplied, I increased pot sizes. Wider/Shallow containers.

Corms/roots tend to spread.
Can you add more corms in the pot?

Oxalis needs very bright light. If in harsh, direct sun, leaves might burn...Daily watering would probably be needed, depending on soil and temp.

Two things I discovered about Oxalis. Despite time of year, if soil dries too much, especially for prolonged periods, Oxalis thinks it's going dormant. Leaves and stems limp. However, once watered leaves regrow.

A little Bone Meal should be mixed in soil before adding corms. I use Fish Emulsion during growing season. Toni

On cloudy days and/or nights, leaves close, similar to Maranta/Prayer Plants, 'these two plants are not related.' Once leaves close, don't water or fertilize.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 6:34PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I wouldn't expect to see much growth until the mean soil temperature is above 55*, and no strong growth until it's >60-65*. I also wouldn't fertilize until the mean soil temperature is above 55*. It is especially advisable to hold to that guideline when using urea or ammonium sources of N, and blood meal is a strong 'no' when soil temperatures are that low.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:39PM
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I planted four 3/4 inch corms in a 4 inch pot.

The soil in the pot is moist but not water logged. In fact, I noticed a white layer of salt buildup because it's new potting medium so I leached the pot making sure it drained well afterwards. No burning on the leaf edges even under the light. I might just be expecting more growth than what the plant can put out at the moment. I do see new leaves emerging at the base and it appears the newer they are, the less height they have. Probably the first ones that emerged reached for the sun and now that more are filling in it will take better shape.

I fertilize all my indoor and outdoor plants with homemade worm tea only. I used spent coffee grounds mixed with water for a potted azalea and potted blueberries to acidify the soil and recently around the Oxalis to deter slugs.

As far as the backyard, we had heavy rains this week and I noticed standing water near the row where I planted the Oxalis. It doesn't stay around for long, maybe 1/2 a day after the rains stop. Perhaps they rotted out or just waiting for the weather to warm up. If they rot, I'll use corms from any surviving mounds in my pot or front yard to replace them.

Do you suggest I add bone meal and fish emulsion to my arsenal?

Outside I'm mainly growing Dwarf Citrus, Avocado, Pomegranate, Blueberries, Herbs, Day Lilies, Various Spring Bulbs (Tulips, Freessia, Amaryllis, Iris, Asiatics Lilies, Cannas, Blazing Stars and Gladioli), Sunflowers, Dahlias, African Iris, African Daisy, Rose of Sharon Hibiscus, Oleanders, Wisteria and Oxalis.

Note: It's my first year with all of these as they all went into the ground either this fall or this spring. Only the Oleanders, Wisteria and African Iris were established plants.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 12:50AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

The growth of your Oxalis is normal. Mine average the same. I looked at the website that you got them from, and the only ones that stay short are Inops. a height of 2-3".
The rest are said to average 6-8" or so..

I too think it's just way to chilly still for them to sprout outside. Be careful not to water log them right now.

Why shouldn't you water Oxalis when the leaves are closed? I've done plenty of research on them in the past and have not come across anything suggesting that.

And having grown them, and have them now, I've never had a problem with watering when leaves are closed. Mine are sending up new stems every day and doing beautiful. I water when the soil says too, not by the leaves.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 1:10AM
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Rabbit. Your outdoor garden sounds lovely. Do you expect fruit from Citrus, Avocado, Pomegranate, Blueberries and 'Herbs/spices' this year? Or were trees/bushes started as youngin's, when you planted last fall?

You want me to be honest? I think you're trying to rush Oxalis growth. lol..
They're young. Like bulbs, the first year, plants look a little bare, but as they multiply, foliage fills out.
Same with corms, before you know it, you'll be repotting in a bigger container.

One thing I like about Oxalis; they're fast-growers. If kept warm, (not hot) and in a bright window/lights, they're evergreen.
This winter, 'the first in years,' I allowed my Ox to go into full dormancy. In other words, all leaves died back. Now that days are longer, new growth has started.

Actually, Bone Meal should be mixed with soil before bulbs/corms are set in place.
Worm Tea..yummy..It might be tasty for plants, but I'd have to pass as a bedtime herbal drink. lol.

I've never heard of Worm Tea, so prefer not to give advice adding other fertilizers.
Fish Emulsion is an organic fertilizer, doesn't burn roots/leaves, and high in Nitrogen.
I doubt using both Tea and FE would over-fertilize, but since I'm unfamiliar with the strength of this tea, don't want to suggest using both.

What is Worm Tea? 'Do I really want to know?' lol, J/K. Is it organic or chemical?

Wish I had an answer why your Ox's aren't growing out back. Purple Oxalis is hardy to zones 6 and up. I'm in z5, so my Ox's are container grown.

Give corms more time before assuming they rotted. Was it warm or cold when you had rain storms?

Nice talking to you..Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 2:18AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Toni,
I had a question about what you mentioned, about watering when the leaves are closed.

I guess you didn't see it. I'm real interested in knowing more about that. Why is it you don't water when the leaves are closed?


    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 2:55AM
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My citrus trees came from Four Winds Growers and they came in 5 gallon containers (Purchased from Orchard Supply Hardware). I can't tell how old they are but I know they are old enough to produce. I planted them in the ground in September to get an early start on establishing them for this years growth cycle. Right now they are all showing signs of new growth so I am quite pleased. My Meyer Lemon and the Blueberries are the only ones setting bloom right now. The Pomegranate is breaking dormancy. I'm read the Meyer is capable of fruiting all year round. The local nursery recommends I pinch off fruit during the first year to help establish a healthy root system. I'm sure I'll allow some fruit this year, just not an abundance.

I think you are right in that I need to be more patient with my Ox. Local weather is reporting high 50s on rainy days dropping to low 40s at night.

As far as worm tea goes, it's a really fun project:

Start with a plastic tote container that is opaque so it stays nice and dark inside. I drilled holes all around it to allow air circulation and on the bottom to allow drainage. I placed this inside another opaque tote of the same size with only holes on the sides (this was to catch any liquid but still allow air circulation). Fill the bin half way with moistened shredded paper. Go to your local pet shop or fish supply shop and ask for red wrigglers or red worms (it cannot be any other type of worm). I started with about 200. Then start adding your finely chopped kitchen scraps, spent flowers, or plant trimmings to the bin (no protein or fat) and top them with more moistened shredded paper (this prevents the compost from smelling like rotted food). Stay away from acidic foods like onions, citrus and tomatoes. You can even dump your occasional spent coffee grounds or cooked pulverized egg shell or a handful of sand would work too. This helps the gizzard in the worm with digesting food. The worms will eat your kitchen scraps and leave you with organic worm castings. You can use the castings as is when potting new plants or make a compost tea. Once the compost is established, get into the habit of feeding on one side and harvesting on the other, then alternate. Keep the paper moist but not soggy or you'll drown your worms. I store my bin in the garage year round but I've heard people using smaller containers and keeping their bins under their sinks. No problems with ants, rodents or other pests as long as I keep a layer of moistened paper on the top. One time I composted a pumpkin and opened the bin to find dozens of sprouting pumpkin seeds all straining for light! haha.

Here's a link on making the tea (Super easy!):

My houseplants THRIVE on the stuff! I've been using it for about a year and have saved a lot of money not having to buy chemicals or potting soil. I don't even repot my plants, I just root prune because the worm compost adds all the nutrients back into spent soil. I read worm compost will also reverse the damaging effects of chemically treated soil over time. I've noticed the population of earthworms in my backyard increase the more I use worm compost tea. If you're not doing it now... I highly recommend you start! Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 4:55AM
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I'm very curious to learn how a person would figure out what nutrients they were giving their plants when using a worm tea, or any other organic mix, and at what percentages, so any deficiencies could be accurately corrected?

Since the basics of science and physics tell us that growing in the ground is very different than growing within containers, and keeping in mind some of those differences, nature would automatically compensate for any overages or deficiencies in the garden... but what about in containers? The same ecosystem is not present, and not easily maintained.

Isn't it true that regular leaching of containerized plants negates any chemical salt build ups? Isn't it also true that a medium with the properties to drain freely and allow for the necessary exchange of gases and oxygen to and from the root zone can be copiously watered every time moisture is needed, thereby allowing excess salts to exit contained within the effluent?

At a cost of about $3, as I recall, I consider a bottle of Miracle Gro liquid to be a good investment... especially since that one bottle lasts me about 2 years, and can be used on every plant type I grow. I know exactly which nutrients it contains, and in what percentages, and this helps me determine which micro-nutrients I need to add, which are also very affordable and cost effective. So, that's two products used that cover all nutritional needs at a very fair price. Not only do I save money, I also know exactly what my plants are receiving, nutritionally speaking.

The Oxalis I have doesn't seem to mind being watered when the leaves are open or closed, as long as I water it when needed, and allow it to rest as needed. Like any other bulbed or cormed plant, the Oxalis requires a dormancy, or rest period, as part of its annual growth and bud setting cycle.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 7:08AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Wow, this is an old Thread...five years and running! :-)

I grow a green version, but I've never associated it with Oxalis, so I'm late to the party!

My grows in-ground, amongst Dryopteris ferns in the shade of an Incense Cedar (Calocedrus).
I'm in a microclimate, right on the cusp of zone 7b/8b, and for most of the Winter,
my plant doesn't show any leaves. There are a few now, but the leaves ain't pretty ;-)

It gets cold and water-soaked in the Winter, and hot and dry in the Summer, so I'd guess
it's a fairly tolerant plant.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 11:55AM
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Hello jodik,

I run into the limitation of having a partner with a ZERO petroleum policy who refuses to allow me to use chemicals on plants indoors or out. I tried sneaking a few doses of Miracle Gro when we first moved in and he went absolutely bonkers when he found the package. Same goes for insecticides. That's also why I had to research natural ways to kill slugs (containers full of beer work the best).

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 12:48PM
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I like the idea of organic growing, myself. What's not to like?

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that organic methods don't translate very well to container growing, and are much more efficient and workable when utilized in the gardens. That being said, I approach container growing from a more inorganic angle, which makes logical sense considering the vast differences between the two types of gardening.

Today's chemical fertilizers are manufactured using various processes, but I think it's incorrect to say that they are petroleum based. Modern synthetic fertilizers are composed mainly of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium compounds with secondary nutrients added.

Many different substances are used to provide the essential nutrients needed for an effective fertilizer. These compounds can be mined or isolated from naturally occurring sources. Examples include sodium nitrate, seaweed, bones, guano, potash, and phosphate rock. Compounds can also be chemically synthesized from basic raw materials. These would include such things as ammonia, urea, nitric acid, and ammonium phosphate.

The production of synthesized fertilizers is regulated by the government in the United States, so analysis tests are run on samples quite consistently by quality control departments to determine total content of each component.

While some of the elements are man made, or synthesized, they are not petroleum based. They are the same basic nutrients found organically... they are simply manufactured to various specifications in a controlled environment.

When it comes to feeding my plants in containers, I don't want to guess at how much Nitrogen or how much Calcium or Magnesium I'm feeding. I'd like to be certain I'm not depriving my plants of any nutrient they need, nor do I want to add too much of a nutrient to the medium, which can be just as harmful as a deficiency.

The best way I've found to ensure that my plants are getting the proper nutrients in the proper amounts is to utilize a synthesized fertilizer that has been specifically manufactured to serve the particular purpose.

Fertilizing and insect control are two separate issues. A grower can certainly use natural methods to keep potted plants free of insects, though I prefer to approach this from an inorganic angle, too. Some of my plants are too difficult to replace, so I don't take any chances.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 5:31PM
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Thanks for the great information! :) Don't think it will fly with my partner, but it is helpful for other gardeners.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 7:46PM
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You're very welcome, rabbithole!

The choice is always up to the individual, of course, but having a wider array of valid information helps us to make better, more informed choices. :-)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 11:39AM
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Jojo..Sorry, I didn't see the post about Oxalis leaves. It's simple. Like Marantas/Calatheas, when Oxalis fold leaves they're napping.
Therefore, it's best to water in the morning, when leaves unfold.

Rabbit. Ah, I'm familiar with Worm Tea, under a different name.
I talk to a few people who keep/breed worms, use the castings, and yes, they keep their bin worms
They swear by this tea.

I've thought about it, but my house is so cluttered, I simply don't have room for a worm home, lol.

I don't blame your S/O keeping your home chemical free. When I see that Fabreze commercial, a woman spraying her veggin bin in the fridge, or their couch, I get goose bumps.
I'm not saying I'm completely chemical free..some fertilizers are chemical, but I also use Fish Emulsion, but NO chemical insecticides.

I live in IL so my citrus are potted, over-wintered indoors and summered outside..It's true, Meyer's bloom/fruit year round. Same with Ponderosa Lemons. Manderin Orange and Kumquats fruit most of the year, if you ever plan on adding more citrus, and prefer long fruiting seasons. Toni

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 2:43AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Jojo - to answer you question - many plants respond to internal rhythms (search endogenous and Circadian rhythm) that cause various physiological reactions based on time of day. Plants don't nap. They go through different phases that are either light dependant (photolysis, photosynthesis .....) or light independent (carbon fixation - the Calvin cycle ....). Many physiological reactions are linked directly to these cycles. There is no reason related to plant physiology that serves as contraindication to withhold water or fertilizer during either phase or in the evening; to wit, water/fertilize whenever the plant needs it.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:04AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Thanks for taking time to answer me..
I've been the past few days looking for more info on this and cannot find anything that supports what you say.
I did searches for 'when to water oxalis', 'when not to water', 'How to water oxalis' and info on leaves folding.

The only thing close I found was info stating not to assume they need water because they are closed.

Water when soil is dry. Drench and let it run out. Not to water when dormant.

I did find plenty to support what Al suggested and that's part of why I got to looking around. They close due to reactions to light, weather it be too much or too little.

Mine close during the brightest part of the day. They are sensitive to our intense sun, so I need to move them to dappled shade.

Thanks Al~

I water mine when they need it, regardless of what the leaves are doing and they just put out a bunch of little ones! It's doing great. Actually they were watered just minutes before taking these pictures.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 11:03AM
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Jojo, that's funny..while the sun is shining, my Ox's leaves spread wide. As the day progresses from late afternoon to early evening, leaves start folding until fully closed by nightfall. On very cloudy days, leaves barely unfold.

One author compares the closing of leaves to a human napping/sleeping. We don't eat or drink while asleep, the same applies to plants.

I find it fascinating how some plants are similar to people. Ever see a leaf jerk? Calatheas and their relatives do this every so often.
The first time it happened, I thought an animal was hiding out in my has something to do with a plants nerves.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:27PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I wouldn't want any forum members to get the idea they shouldn't water their houseplants in the evening. The author's anthropomorphisation (attributing human characteristics to plants/animals/objects) is very misleading. Plants don't eat or drink, nap or sleep; so the author was using a poor analogy in assigning these human traits to plants - not even close. Plants absolutely DO take up nutrients AND water (as close as they get to eating and drinking) during the dark phase (but they still don't 'sleep'). There is no physiological basis or any basis rooted in science that suggests it's counter-productive to water in the evening. Not that it proves a point, but I ALWAYS water my houseplants in the evening after I shut the puter down - just before bed, with nary an ill effect. Certainly no one turns the rain off at night ....

It's often suggested that we don't water our outdoor plants late in the day or in the evening because we know that spraying water on foliage can provide the favorable incubation period required for a number of harmful fungal leaf diseases to get established that couldn't otherwise take hold, but that is something entirely separate from the authors suggestion not to water houseplants at night.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 4:46PM
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FYI, more than one author stated, 'Do not water house plants in the evening.'

It's written in numerous plant books, not one. This information can also be found on Google.

I admit, I water certain plants at night, but those that fold leaves and succulents, get a drink in early morning or afternoon, never at night.
Succulents, 'kept in cool rooms,' will rot.

I had two healthy plants. A Pachypodium and Cycad, Sago Palm. The soil was dry..both were in cool rooms. I knew I should have waited, but didn't.
The next day, both plants were dead..This happened at different times. The Pachy, 12" +, folded over..the Sago's trunk was mushy soft.
Commercial green house growers, keep sprayers running throughout the day. At night, they're turned off. Timers are set to go off 15-30 minutes depending on the green house. (for tropicals, not succulents)

Ask any nursery owner why this is done. It isn't for econical reasons..

Once again, outdoor grown plants opposed to indoor plants, are like talking apples and oranges. There IS a difference. Toni

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 4:53PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Whatever - if the soil stays wet for days, what difference can it possibly make? Agree to disagree ..... but it remains that the author's analogy is a poor one.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 7:03PM
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Whatever, indeed..some people think they know more than everyone else..including published authors who have studied plants and plant behavior.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 7:13PM
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After reading this forum for quite some time, I finally have a question of my own! I have a beautiful oxalis that has been passed down through family, and now I would like to split it to give part as a gift to a friend.

If I split the corms and repot it into two separate plants, will my original plant eventually return to its current size? I saw one posting referring to corms multiplying over time.

Also, I am especially hesitating to do this because I would be devastated if my original plant dies as a result. Any feedback you all could share?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 4:56PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's almost foolproof if you let the plant dry down until it dies back to the soil line. Put it in a cool spot & wait a month or so, then bare root the plant, divide it, and repot into a soil that drains very freely. After you repot, keep the soil barely damp until it reawakens. You can then begin normal watering & fertilize the plant.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 7:41PM
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If anyone is still reading this...

I have a clover bought from one of those gift stores as a novelty. I bought it for fun and didnt expect anything to be honest (i am a beginner gardener). It grew all through summer and did really well. I recently repotted it to a larger pot as it had roots growing out of its puny original pot. I discovered that out of the 2 bulbs i started with, it now has 2 tiny extra "seeds". I left them as they were.

My questions:
1) Why have they not flowered? Everyone here seems to rave about their blooms. Mine only sends out green leaves.
2) It is now freezing at night outdoors. I brought the pot inside. Is that the right thing to do? They were turning yellowish although still growing. Should I let it go dormant and will it be able to do so if indoors (about 22degrees celcius)?

Many thanks for any help!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 3:13PM
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Lyn, since it was freezing outside, bringing indoors was the right thing to do.

Because it got so cold, your Oxalis went dormant. Once leaves are totally wilted, remove them. Place in a warmer, 'not hot', sunny spot. Evenutally new leaves will grow.

Are you fertilizing? If so, what type?
I can't understand why your Oxalis doesn't flower. Is get getting enough sun when outdoors?

Bright light is sufficient. Allow soil to dry between waterings. There were times I forgot to water my Oxalis..Leaves wilted a little..After a drink, leaves not only straighted out, but bloomed.

What color are the leaves? Green, purple or another color? Toni

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 5:16PM
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A friend gave me her Oxalis to winter. She had planted a white and pink one in a pot with one with dark purple leaves and light mauve flowers. I can now find neither the pink nor the white one. Preferring to have one type per pot I dug up some corms of the purple-leaved one. I could find none of the others to plant separately. The leaves of the light mauve one are beautiful but long and spindly. Now everthing looks dead except for 1 leaf that recently appeared in one of the pots. Do you think the light mauve one has killed the pink and white ones? I am going to dig up all the corms I can find except in the pot where the leaf has appeared. If there are differences in them I shall plant them separately. How often should I water them? Is it best to wait till they are almost dry or will the plant show when it needs water? Is it better to water by placing it in a bowl of water or to water it from the top? Should I give them as much water as they can take at a time and seldom or only a little at a time? I am very fond of Oxalis and hope eventually to get a bulblet of Oxalis pes Caprae and grow it indoors as a houseplant because obnoxious weed as it is in many parts of the world the bright canary yellow flowers are so beautiful. It does not grow here in Sweden nor is it sold here.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 7:20AM
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Does anyone know if an oxalis shamrock with white flowers would thrive in an indoor terrarium? Has anyone tried this? Naturally it would be indoors away from direct sunlight but would get indirect light.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 4:10PM
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