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Article: Care for Oxalis triangularis

Care for Oxalis triangularis

Care for Oxalis triangularis

Oxalis triangularis is part of the Oxalidaceae family and is one of the most common houseplant cultivators of the Oxalis genus. Commonly referred to as False Shamrock, or Wood Sorrell, these plants are favoured for their clover-shaped leaves and bushy growing habit. Other Oxalis varieties include Oxalis ‘Plum Crazy’, Oxalis ‘Sunset Velvet’ and Oxalis triangularis ‘Green’. Most recognisable are the deep purple leaves of the Oxalis triangularis ‘Mijke’, however other varieties showcase green, pink, and even orange leaves. In the summer months, these plants will produce small white, pink, or purple blooms depending on their variety.

Oxalis can be found growing natively in Brazil, Peru and Northern Argentina and favour growing in bushy clusters, rarely reaching over 0.5 meters in height. 

These plants are not just prized for their unique appearance, but also treasured for their ability to close up their leaves. This results in each stem looking as if it is adorned with butterflies. This is called Nastic Movement and is dependent on the level of light the plant receives as low light causes the leaves to fold up. This is thought to be a form of protection against nocturnal herbivores.

Caring for Oxalis in your UK Home

Oxalis grow best when placed in bright to medium light. They should never be placed in a south facing window as this will cause their leaves to scorch. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.

During the growing season these plants require feeding and repotting. They can also be grown outdoors during the warmer months in either a sunny spot or partial shade. When feeding choose a general houseplant feed to add nutrients into the compost. This will promote lots of healthy, new growth in the spring and summer. Our go to fertiliser is Liquid Gold Leaf. Add 2ml of feed to 1L of water and use this solution when watering every couple of months in the spring and summer.

There are a couple of different compost options you can use when repotting an Oxalis triangularis. For a basic, budget friendly option use Houseplant Focus. This is a general houseplant mix which can be used across most of your leafier houseplants. As this compost is a basic mix we recommend adding 20% Bettergrow Perlite to 80% compost for added drainage to prevent it becoming overly compact. For a superior mix, our Plant Gurus recommend a mix of Soil Ninja components including 60% Base mix, 20% Bark and 20% Vermiculite. This creates the perfect balance of moisture retention and aeration to allow lots of oxygen to circulate around the root system whilst never allowing the compost to dry out completely.

Oxalis are deciduous which means they die back annually. When kept as houseplant in temperatures above 15 degrees these plants will not always go dormant, however if you notice the leaves dying back this is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle. Their root systems are made up of lots of tiny bulbs and these should sprout when the growing season begins again in spring. During this period of dormancy, it is important to reduce watering until new growth begins to appear.

Tips and Tricks for Oxalis

Why does my Oxalis have leggy growth?

Prune back regularly to keep your Oxalis bushy and prevent leggy growth appearing.

Oxalis has completely died in autumn or winter?

Oxalis can die back completely if left without water for too long or if the temperature in your home is too cold. This is a normal part of its life cycle and due to having bulbs within the compost will sprout again in the spring and summer.

What does leaf scorch in Oxalis look like?

Leaf scorch appears if the plant is placed in too much direct sunlight and will cause the leaves to turn a light, reddish purple.