of the month
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Oxalis deppei (oks-AL-iss DEP-ee-eye)
Lucky clover, Good-luck plant, Shamrock
These easy-to-grow houseplants have colorful blossoms and three
or four rounded or triangular-shaped leaves that range in hues
from dark green to deep red. They grow from bulblike tubers and
reach 6 to 10 inches tall. The leaves of some species close up
Flower colors include hues of white and reddish pink, sometimes
with basal blotches of dull purple.
Oxalis plants are perennials and will last for years, but they
require resting periods. To get the most out of an Oxalis, let
it grow and bloom until it starts to fade. Stop all water and
fertilizer, and store the plant for two to three months in a
cool, dark location.
Other popular species of Oxalis include:
O. Acetosella—pink blossoms
O. Purpurea—pink, purple or white blossoms.
O. Regnelliia—purple foliage and white or lilac flowers.
O. Rubraa—pink- to lilac-colored flowers with darker veins.
Oxalis plants usually are available in the weeks leading up to
St. Patrick’s Day.
AND CONSIMER CARE
LIGHT Bright, diffused light
is best for indoors. Full sun or filtered sunlight is ideal if
the plants are displayed outdoors.
WATER Keep the soil moist
but not too wet. If plants dry out, leaf yellowing, wilting and
decline are likely. However, root rot may occur if the plants
are kept too wet.
TEMPERATURE Oxalis plants do
best when kept at 70 F to 75 F.
SOIL A light, well-drained
potting soil is best.
HUMIDITY Keep humidity
levels moderate. Mist the plants occasionally, or place them on
a pebble tray.
FERTILIZER When the plants
are actively growing, feed them once a month with a liquid
houseplant fertilizer. When they stop blooming, cut back on the
fertilizer to every other month until the plant goes dormant.
GROOMING Remove faded bloom
and leaf stems at their base when they have passed their prime.
An occasional gentle rinse will remove any dust.
MEANING “Oxalis“ comes from
the Greek “oxys,” or “sour,” referring to the plant’s
FAMILY Oxalis plants are
members of the Oxalidaceae (wood sorrel) family, which contains
more than 500 species.
ORIGINS Oxalis plants are
native to Africa, South America, Europe, Iceland and Asia.
WHY THE SHAMROCK? The
shamrock, a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, became part of Irish
history because St. Patrick, credited with bringing Christianity
to Ireland in the fifth
century, used a shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the
Trinity to his followers. St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated on March
17, the anniversary of his death, heralds the arrival of spring.
PLACE HOLDER Oxalis is not
the official Irish shamrock. That honor goes to Trifolium dubium,
which is a yellow-flowered clover or trefoil that is difficult
to grow indoors, so nurseries and florists sell Oxalis plants
BLOOMS AND FOLIAGE Check for
any insect damage, rot, wilt, or petal or leaf drop.
Some information provided by:
University of Illinois Extension,
Dr. Leonard Perry, Department of Plant and Soil Science,
University of Vermont, www.uvm.edu
Cobb County Extension Service,
You may reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
email@example.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company
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