I was given my shamrock plant several years ago. It reminds me daily I’m half Irish. Whatever your heritage, the shamrock makes a delightful, long-lived gift for yourself or someone you love.
PS The shamrock has religious significance in Ireland where the three leaves represent the Christian Trinity.
The shamrock plant, with its three-part leaves and white flowers, fascinated the Victorians. Popular then and now in a hanging basket or on the kitchen window sill, the variety shown above, the oxalis regnellii (common name - wood sorrel), can be an entertaining houseplant.
The leaves open and close depending upon how much light they get. At night, when dark, the leaves fold. During the day, they open wide and flat to welcome the light. The transition between sleeping and waking in the shamrock plant is very rapid, occurring in less than an hour’s time. Should you have a Shamrock plant in a dark room, you can turn on the lights when it’s asleep and actually watch the leaves awaken! On a cloudy day, the leaves may remain closed if the light isn’t bright enough.
General Growing Conditions
A perennial, meaning it grows from year to year, the shamrock is an outdoor plant native to South America. It is almost ever-blooming indoors. The shamrock flowers in spring and summer when planted outside in Zone 8, the southern part of North America. It likes moist soil and prefers cooler air and bright, indirect sunlight but will grow in lower light.
It’s good to fertilize your plant weekly during the growing season.
If planted outdoors, select an area out of direct sunlight so as not to burn the leaves.
Protection from hard freezing is a good idea although your plant may survive. Again, Zone 8, located in the southern United States, is best for outdoor growth.
The shamrock has little rhizome bulblets that look like white puffy tapioca. Place these in two parts peat moss, one part loam and one part sandy soil, and keep them well watered in low light conditions until leaves begin to appear. The pot can then be moved to brighter light.
Your shamrock's leaves may look like they’re not feeling well. Odds are, the bulblets just need to go dormant between blooming periods. Let the leaves die back naturally. Don’t remove any leaves until they’re brown. Ignore your plant for three or four weeks while it rests, cut off the brown leaves, then begin watering and feeding it again. In most houseplants, this dormant period occurs two or three times a year.
The article was reviewed and approved by Larry Dingman, horticulturist and dear friend.
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