This coming Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day. Are you planning to get a shamrock?
To get the best out of yours, while it’s blooming, keep it in bright light—several hours of direct morning sun or afternoon sun (before 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m.) is best. Water when the soil is dry to the touch on top. Feed with any good houseplant food (African violet fertilizer works well).
Because they grow from bulbs, a few months after they finish blooming, “shamrocks” sometimes begin to look “tired”—usually towards the end of summer. What this means is they are ready to go into dormancy. At this point, withhold water and allow the plant to die back naturally. Once it has, store the tubers in the pot somewhere dark and dry (a closet) for about six weeks.
After its dormancy, bring the pot back out into a bright window and begin watering. Once fresh new little leaves appear, begin feeding as usual.
Besides the common Oxalis Regnelli (green leaves and white flowers) that you commonly find sold as shamrocks, there are other varieties of oxalis you can find. Right now in our bulb section we have the bulbs for Oxalis Triangularis or Purple Shamrock. It has pretty purple foliage topped with pale lavender-pink flowers. It is winter-hardy here and can be planted outside.
We also have the bulbs for Oxalis Deppei or Iron-Cross Shamrock. It has leaves with a burgundy blotch in the center, topped with rosy pink flowers. It is another winter-hardy variety. Both of these should be planted in at least a half-day of sun and well-draining soil.
Whichever variety you try, these are all pretty and rewarding plants and we’re pretty lucky they’re so easy to grow.
There is an old Irish blessing that says:
“There’s a dear little plant that grows in our Isle,
‘Twas Saint Patrick himself, sure, that set it;
And the sun of his labor with pleasure did smile,
And with dew from his eye often wet it.
It grows through the bog, through the brake, through the mireland
And they call it the dear little Shamrock of Ireland.”