Caring for the Shamrock Plant

The Shamrock plant has a beautiful look with its delicate leaves, stems and soft flowers. It’s a unique plant as it grows from a bulb and has a long life span. But one thing many people do not realize is as a bulb it has to die down so they think the plant is dying. But what it needs is a resting period. Let the plant rest by cutting back on the amount of water and sitting in a shady place for a few weeks. Shamrock Plant Flowers
Creative Commons License photo credit: audreyjm529

Saint Patrick’s Day is not complete without a Shamrock plant. The plant has a spring feel and signifies good luck. It’s a welcome addition to any home. But after it has flowered it will need a rest. How soon will depend on how hard it was forced to have flowers by Saint Patrick’s Day and on how it was treated before you bought the plant. If it was in poor lighting, cool areas or lacked water it may be stressed and need a break sooner.

The Shamrock plant will need to rest a couple of times during the year. the leaves will yellow and look sad. Just remove the ones that are dying and cut back on water. Soon the plant will look very sad. It’s time to remove the leaves and stems to let the plant rest. I move the plant to a low light area and ignore. When you see signs of new growth on eh bulb bring the plant back into light and water.

In no time at all the plant will spring to life.

Care of the Shamrock Plant

Any plant will need repotted after a bit. It gives the plant new nutrition, fresh soil and a clean or new home depending if you totally repot the plant. I repot my plants once a year. It gives me a chance to check the roots and see if they are healthy or root bound. I also like to give the plant a new pot and a new look.

Repotting the Shamrock Plant

My Shamrock plants are several years old. Each year in late spring I replant them. Plants will let you know if they need replanted but by changing planters each year you know your plant is getting attention and proper care. This year I am changing my four shamrocks into different colored pots and adding a few mini ceramic pottery pieces to the pot for décor.

To repot you plant, tap the sides of the pot to loosen the soil. Hold the plant in place down by the base near the soil and tip on its side. The plant should come out but if it hesitated push you finger into the drainage hole to coax the plant out.

Check the look of the soil once the plant is out. If it has any crusty dirt or whitish spots remove them. Gently loosen the soil so that the plants roots breath better; but take care not to damage any plant roots.

If you are using the same pot make sure you wash it well and let it dry completely. I am using new pots but have washed them and let them dry. I will place broken pieces of clay pot over the drainage hole to hold dirt in but let water drain through. Next put in about 2 two to three inches of rich soil in the pot.

Set the Shamrock root ball onto the dirt, and carefully fill soil around the plant. Pat the soil around the base of the plant to hold it up right. Fill in the pot with more dirt until the pot is about 7/8th full. As a final step I place very small pebbles on the top of the soil. This helps to keep the soil loose so that the water will soak into the plant easier.

I normally water my plants from the bottom of the pot. This stops soil mold from forming and the soil from getting hard. I also find the soil stays in better condition if you water from below. But once in a while I do water from the top. Water you newly potted plant and let the plant relax for a few days

Four Leaf Clover 068
4 leaf clover

Creative Commons License photo credit: cygnus921

As a last step, place your newly potted plant on a tray of pebbles. This creates more humidity around the plant and makes for a better plant environment. If by chance you plant has looked a little stressed or tired I will place a plastic bag tent over the plant to create a greenhouse effect. This perks almost any plant up immediately.

Once my plant has adapted to its new pot I add the ceramic pottery pieces and select its home for the year. My shamrock plants have done very well over the years and have produced more bulbs, which I have potted up and given to friends. Enjoy your Shamrock plant.

Tip: If your soil gets hard on the top of your plants during the year, gently loosen with a fork. Small pebbles should alleviate this problem.

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53 responses to “Caring for the Shamrock Plant”

  1. cathy trednick

    I have had a shamrock plant for several years. I recently noticed an orange substance on the under side of the leaves and the plant looks bad. Do you know what this orange stuff is and how do I treat my plant before I lose it.
    Thanks. Cathy

  2. Denise

    Hi Cathy,

    Make a mixture of 1 cup of room temperature water and a couple squirts of liquid dish soap. Gently spray and wash the plant.

    You may also want to make a second mixture with a dash of crushed garlic and let it sit overnight, then use on the plant. This mix you may want to water down so the garlic isn’t too strong.

    Remove any bad leaves. Set in a quiet place and you may possibly want to cover with plastic for a few days to create a greenhouse effect.

    I would also check the soil and remove the top section (1/4 to 1/2 inch – but don’t disturb the roots) and put on fresh soil.

    I often water a plant with a mix of chamomile tea. It kills and soil fungus and disease.

    And the problem is you have a insect problem. If you use the spray it will choke out the problem. Check the plant for several weeks to make sure there are no further problems. Good luck! Denise

  3. Katie


    I have a purple shamrock that has a yellowish substance growing on the top portion of the dirt. The plant continues to thrive. Do I need to do anything? Remove the yellowish substance or replant????

    Thank you for your time,


  4. Denise

    Yes, I would remove the top layer of the soil. It’s old and needs refreshed. At the same time I would remove the plants from its pot and clean the pot.

    If the roots look tight or compressed I would repot the plant in a pot 1/4 to 1/2 inch bigger than you have been using.

    Do you water the plant from underneath? I do that with most plants. I also use a weak chamomile tea once in a while. The tea acts as an astringent for the soil to kill any disease. And it doesn’t hurt the plant. Denise

  5. […] more information on this plant check Shamrock Plant Care and The Shamrock […]

  6. LaNett

    I have an Orchid, Mini Rose, Guzmamia and a Shamrock. I think I need to replant my Shamrock for the pot looks to small and I think it needs more soil; there is a long scallie looking thing that is uncovered. I am guessing it is the bulb, and it is showing. Would it hurt to repot it now and should I cover that scallie looking thing with potting soil? Some of the leaves are turning yellow, also, what should I do?

    Can you do this with any plant (see below)?
    Make a mixture of 1 cup of room temperature water and a couple squirts of liquid dish soap. Gently spray and wash the plant.

    You may also want to make a second mixture with a dash of crushed garlic and let it sit overnight, then use on the plant. This mix you may want to water down so the garlic isn’t too strong. cover with plastic for a few days to create a greenhouse effect. Water from the bottom for all plants?

    Thank You
    LaNett Kirkland

  7. Denise

    You should be able to repot the plant now with no problems and yes, cover the long scallie thing. Its part of the root.

    The first mix will work well on any plants. Its very mild.

    The one with the garlic in I recommend for plants with a bad insect infestation. You may want to test the mix on a delicate leaf by just applying a small amount with a small brush and wait to see if there is a reaction.

  8. Nicki

    The edges of the leaves of my shamrock started turning yellow and curling. Now the tops of the leaves are speckled white, but the plant is still blooming. There is no sign of pests. The plant has not been transplanted for a year. Any ideas as to the cause and treatment? Thank you.

  9. Audra

    Hi i just received a shamrock plant or at least thats what my mother said it was, but it doesn’t look like the pictures u have on here. I just started to have outside plants and indoor plants which most of them i don’t even know what they are. Of course i googled Shamrock Plant and your website was the first to come up.I was reading the care of the shamrock plant and you were talking about roots, mine doesn’t have roots, its just basically like a stalk. and i just have it in a vase of water because thats how it was when my mom got it from another lady. but it was looking sad so i poured out some of the water and stuck it in a dark place. im young, a new wife, new mom, new home owner. lol so im just learning about plants but i absolutley love em i need alot of help!

  10. Denise

    Your plant sound like a “lucky bamboo plant” if its a stalk in water. Google lucky bamboo and see what photos you see.

  11. bill mikla

    Does anyone have a solution to Nicki’s comment on Oct4, 2009? My shamrock is about 20 years old and occasionally it’s leaves get curly and brown with the plant looking like its dying. When I put it outside in the spring it usually starts thriving but in the winter in my west window it browns. I just put some of Miracle Grows leaf shine on it and it has definitely perked right up but not to total health. I water when soil goes dry and occasionally with fertilizer. Any ideas?

  12. marcia

    I had to buy seven shamrock plants for the church. Can they be planted outside? Our churches name is St. Patricks. Thanks

  13. Denise

    Yes they can be outdoors but depending on your weather and climate they usually need to be brought in for the winter, Heavy frost will kill the bulbettes so that they will not come back in the spring.

  14. James

    I just bought my friend a potted shamrock plant for St. Patrick’s Day and she was wanting to know how to take care of it. She lives in an apartment in coastal San Diego, (just to give you an idea of the climate) but does have one tiny table in the front where she may be able to leave it outdoors if you think that’s best. Do you have any suggestions on whether she should keep it in our out? Also, I’ve read your article on care, but was wondering, when you trim back the leaves and stems, how far down the stem should she cut, i.e. should she just leave bare stalks? Thanks a bunch!

  15. Phyillis


    I am wanting to know if you can take cuttings from a shamrock plant and put the cuttings in water to root?

  16. K

    IS the oxilis plant a bushy full plant of rather sparse? nana12

  17. Karen

    I bought a small Oxilisshamroc planted in a glass goblet since then I have put it in a ceramic pot. It is a pretty plant with white flowers and has grown a bit. It only went dormant once in two years. Firstly is this plant normally full and bushy and why hasnt it gone dormant since the first time?

  18. Megan

    I have two Shamrock plants one traditional green and one purple, I was wondering when I re pot them, if I could do it together in one pot as I think the green and purple would look good together and they both would fill each other out as they are looking a little sparse. Is this possible to do with out killing them? Thanks

  19. I just received a shamrock plant from my boss who just retired. She knows better than anyone that I kill plants by looking at them. I’ve had this shamrock a week now, and it’s still looking good today. I’ve been watering it every other day (just a quick squirt from the faucet). I have a few questions I didn’t see here (may have missed it?). First, I’m in southern Arizona where it’s pretty dry. I also rent a home, and within the next 6 months will move twice, so I’ll be keeping it potted. Will this plant spread out or grow tall? Or both? Or neither? It’s currently in the plastic pot it came in, so need to know how big or deep a pot I should get. Also, where should I keep it? I had it on my north-facing window sill above the kitchen sink, but noticed in the evening that it was sagging. I moved it to the opposite counter in a corner. The next morning it looked good again. I moved it to the dining room table, about 5 feet from the window with the blinds open. It started sagging by night again so I put it back to the further counter. Today it’s thriving again. Is this a plant that sags in bright light? How often do I water it? How dry is “too dry”? It’s nice to read the tips about letting it die out for a while, but is there a season where this tends to be a normal thing? When should I give up on it? As you can tell, I’m horrible with plants!

  20. Edith

    I have a shamrock that I replanted to a larger pot and it appears like it is dying I do not want to lose it what do I need to do? I have it in the frontroom window where it can get indirect sun, what else do I need to do. What is a good potting soil maybe I used the wrong one.

  21. Denise

    I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t be planted together. Just don’t crown a pot when you are planting them and choose a larger pot than they are in att this time. Denise

  22. Denise

    I have heard of several people who say their plant does not go dormant as much as other. I am not sure what would cause this but as long as its full and looks healthy consider it a plus.

    You may want to think about separating some of the bulbettes in the pot though so they don’t start to choke each other or affect the roots. Denise

  23. It depends on the time of the year. When its in its prime its full.If its heading into a dormant spell it will get sparse and thin looking. Most shamrocks need a resting period once a year. But I have heard of plants that don’t seem to need this. Denise

  24. Denise

    No the shamrock plat will not root in water. But if you notice, there are small bulbettes that form around the shamrock plants roots near the top of the soil. You can plant these in different pots and get new plants. Denise

  25. Indoors or outdoors will be fine. It all depends on the lighting. I prefer to leave plants outdoors in the summer if possible.

    If you decide on placing the plant outdoors just watch the temps in the fall. Shamrocks don’t like really cold weather.

    And don’t remove any leaves unless they die. They will kindof get thin looking if the plant needs a break and you could rim them back then. Denise

  26. Denise

    Has the plant ever gone into a resting period? It technically is a bulb and need to rest once in a while. It may just be that time.

    Just keep an eye on the plants and if it continues to thin it needs a break from growing. That is usually a month or so in length.

  27. Denise

    Plants do better with a good watering than just a drop or two. It helps develop better roots and will not dry out as much. Try watering once a week, unless its really hot and dry.

  28. Megan

    Great I’ll give it a try! Thanks 🙂

  29. Roberta

    I have a shamrock plant that is about 20 years old. It does well, but lately has developed large white spots on the outer edges of the leaves. It is still blooming, and the newer leaves look nice and healthy. I water it once a week, and use Miracle Gro liquid housplant fertilizer. Any suggestions?

  30. Kat

    I have a shamrock plant I got for St. Patrick’s day that is looking very wilted. I haven’t been watering it very much. It has mostly brown, shriveled up leaves. What should I do?

  31. Denise

    It sounds like maybe it was forced to grow fast and look good for st patricks day.

    Check the soil to see if it has mold or looks unhealthy. If the soil look unhealthy, repot the plant.
    Do the little bulbettes look ok? If so and you don’t see any signs of insects it probably just was forced to grow fast and needs a rest.

    Lightly mist it and set it in a corner for a few weeks and see what it does. It may need cut back and to start to grow again. These plants do need a resting period during the year.

  32. Denise

    The leaves with spots sound like it has an insect problem. Remove those leaves. Check the other leaves and use a soapy water wash on the plant to kill any small insects. Shamrocks tend to get small mites that are hard to see with the naked eye. They leave white spots or a soft white spongy mess.

    Anytime you have bad leaves its best to remove them. If they are not infected with insects they will attract them or plant diseases.

    Good luck.

  33. carol

    I received shamrock bubles with no instructions on how the plant them

    Thanking you in advance.

  34. Denise

    Just place then in soil in a pot with the bulb just showing form the top of the soil. Water lightly and set in a warm place.

  35. bev harris

    My S.O.(significant other) has only one plant, a shamrock. Someone told him to water it sparingly and only when it looks half dead. It flowers when it is at its driest, but the whole plant is very sparse and doesn’t grow any bigger at all. He doesn’t use any fertilizer. It is in a huge pot, about 11″ across and 10″ deep with what was good potting soil at one time, I think. The leaves are limp, but some seem healthier than others. After reading other comments, I wonder if it needs repotting (it’s been in the same pot for 10 years that I know of!) in a smaller pot with new potting soil. The location seems to be OK, but we “discuss” how much water and how often. When the leaves dry up, they look like a piece of thread. My plants are all fine. This plant seems to be rather important to him. Any help?

  36. Judy Cravens

    My purple shamrock was burned by direct sunlight and can’t seem to recover. New sprouts are weak and die off soon after they come up. The few bigger leaves are fading and nothing is being replaced. It’s now sitting away from direct sun but gets good light from southern windows,

    What am I doing wrong?

  37. Denise

    Has it had a dormant time this season? They need to rest once a year.

  38. lori ricker

    Hello, Thanks for sharing you knowledge. Could you tell me how deep to plant the shamrock bulbs – indoors in planters and outdoors in the ground or planters outside. Thank you Lori

  39. The bulb should just break the soil.

    If you plant outdoors you need to live in a warmer climate (zone 8 or higher) so the bulb does not freeze. In my area, there are indoor plants, except for the summer and I usually keep them in planters because of this.

  40. Lynda

    I have a potted purple shamrock which I purchsed in the early summer. We live in Brooklyn, NY and I placed it in a south window and it grew beautifully until about Labor day. Then it started to drop leaves and it stopped flowering. I continued to water it sparingly and about 6-8 weeks ago noticed it started to flower. I immediately got out my plant light, set the timer to about 9 hrs. per day. It has continued to flourish with new leaves and flowers.
    I am wondering if I should repot it? I do think it can use a new slightly larger pot but it is December. Any suggestions?
    I first saw this plant in a store window and it flowered through out the seasons and for years and it was a pretty large plant.

  41. Lori

    My Shamrock plant folds up in the evening and opens back up in the morning. I’ve had it since March 2010 and repotted it. The other night my friend was over and it was at night so it was folded up. anyway she started picking dead leaves off. The next morning it was drooping almost like it might die. Its such a beautiful plant I’m afraid that it might die. Any thoughts on what I can do?

  42. Denise

    Sounds to me like it might have suffered some shock. Leave it alone for a few days and see how it does. I would be careful not to overwater it. Possibly mist it if you feel it needs moisture.

  43. I would leave the plant be right now. Winter is more of a slower growth period for most plants so let it rest. In the spring take a good look at the pot, roots and soil. If the roots look root bound plant the plant in a pot 1/4 larger than before.

  44. Lesa

    I was given a couple of bags full of the tiny bulbs – green ones and purple ones – several years ago. I planted them in seperate pots – colorwise – and they are gorgeous. They bloom a lot – year round. I did not know they needed to rest. But I have repoted them becuase they multiplied too much and the pot was too full. I was also given a bug problem – tiny gnats and tiny white bugs. I have fought with them for over a year now. Have them mostly gone now -I have lots of plants – but bad infestation on my green shamrock. I have it isolated and under a grow light in a different room. Maybe this would be a good time to let it rest. Can I just take all the leaves off and put all the bulbs in new dirt and pot – after cleaning in the garlic solution? I would take it outside and take all the leaves off to not stir up any bugs inside. Thank you for your help.

  45. Toni

    I got a shamrock at a garage sale. It looked awful so it was very cheap. The bulbets are very near the top of the pot and it is a huge pot. The new growth is a very slim stem and the leaves do not grow to full size and brown and curl under. What should I do to make it happy?

  46. Denise

    I think it needs the bulbs divided and repotted. After dicing and repotting lightly water. Shamrocks need a resting period and it might be in that stage but dividing it will probably wake it up.

  47. Denise

    Don’t take the leaves off. It would not be good for the plant. Use a liquid mix of two drops of dish soap to a pint of water and wash or spray the plant.

    You have mites on the plant, which is a common problem with shamrock. The above mix should help. Also taking a q-tip with a little seabreeze on the tip and touching the white bugs will kill the bugs.

  48. Jim Turner

    Will shamrocks grow (live) as an annual if planted outside in mid Missouri climate?

  49. Denise

    Jim, No I believe its too cold in your area. they would have to be brought indoors of rhte winter. Denise

  50. Jim Turner

    OK, thanks.

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