Shamrock Plant, Shamrock plant care and history

The Shamrock plant (Oxalis sp.) is very easy to grow. They like cool air, moist soil, and bright light or indirect sun. What makes this plant a little different from other plants is that it grows from a bulb. Backlit Shamrock Plant Flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: audreyjm529

The plant is a tender plant best grown in pots. It has a delicate look with leaves that grow together in groups of three. The plant will produce a very small white flower. Although the Shamrock has a name that is linked to Ireland but it actually has its origin in South America.

Shamrock is derived from the Celtic word for clover, which also has three leaflets. Legend says that St. Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the principle of the trinity to the people he converted

All bulbs that grow from bulbs need a rest period during the year. The Shamrock plant will need a couple rest periods every year to do their best. When the plant starts to look a little thin and tired, stop watering it. The leaves will turn brown and you then pull them off.  Set the pot somewhere that is cool and dry for about two or three months. Note: The purple leaf varieties will only need about a month of rest. They are my favorite of the two. And yes, I grow both varieties.

When its time to relive the plants, give them water and a dose of all-purpose house plant food (10-10-10). It won’t be long before you notice new growth. When watering allow the plant to slightly dry out and then re-water. It will benefit from the use of plant food several times during the summer.

The only problem I have noticed with the Shamrock plant is that you need to keep a careful look for spider mites. Keep the soil aerated and the sickly leaves picked off and the plants should do well. At the end of the dormant cycle you might want to remove the bulbs (also called rhizomes) from the pot and replant them.

How to re-pot you Shamrock Plant

  • Remove the Shamrock plant from its pot by tapping the outside of the pot. Once its out loosen the root ball of the plant and with both hands begin to massage the root ball. This aerates the roots and helps future growth.
  • Choose a new pot that is one size larger than the old pot. Make sure it’s clean and dry.  Put a rock or broken pieces of clay pot over the drainage hole and add two to three inches of good potting soil that has a bit of a sand base. (I add a little sand to regular potting soil.) .
  • Set the Shamrock root ball onto the soil, and fill in around the plant with more soil. Firm the soil around the base of the plant to hold it up right. Lightly water, and then add a little liquid plant food.
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