Can Shamrocks be Hoity Toity?

The flowers of Oxalis Grand Duchess versicolor
(candy cane shamrock) are tiny.
An unassuming plant with a hoity-toity name caught my eye on the Easy to Grow Bulbs shopping site.  Oxalis Grand Duchess versicolor  was a dry-looking nub of a bulb when it arrived. I planted it as indicated and waited. The wait seemed too long and I figured it was never coming up so I planted a cutting of Brazilian plume flower (Justicia carnea) in one of the small pots.
Candy cane shamrock's unsightly stems.


http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/SouthAfricanOxalisTen#
How the candy cane shamrock got its name.
Eventually, weedy, spindly stems emerged. By now I had an overabundance of pots in my limited space, having acquired more Pelargonium and a few other full-sized plants plus the Amaryllis bulbs. So I ended up pitching two out of three pots containing these weedy stems that had no leaves on the first 2 inches and were flopping over the sides. The one with the plume flower cutting was saved. Finally, the three remaining bulbs in the one pot bloomed. The flowers were as adorable as shown in the source's photos, providing candy cane color on both furled and unfurled blooms. But there were fewer blossoms, and they were dangling clumsily over the side of the pot. I'll keep the pot after they've finished flowering, let the foliage whither by holding back water. If they come up next year I'll give them more light and see if they provide another crop of flowers on stems less ungainly.

Oxalis adenophylla blooms in 10 weeks.
Silver shamrock, or Oxalis adenophylla really tried my patience. My first attempt to grow these little beauties was successful, providing adorable leaves in a delicate, silvery shade of green that topped stems just 2 - 3 inches tall.

I planted the tiny bulbs in mid-November, and by the end of January, I had both leaves and flowers. Silver shamrock could be grown for its leaves, but its flowers are worth waiting for. Unlike most common shamrocks, its flowers are bigger than the leaves, and painted with a thumb-smudge of pale purple at the edge of each petal.


Oxalis 'Plum Crazy' is easy to love.
The easiest shamrock to grow was one I bought already in full leaf at the Porter County Master Gardeners Gardening Show, held in late January each year. Its name is as interesting as its leaves--'Plum Crazy', a diminutive cutie with purple-pink leaves that steal the show from its ho-hum flowers.

Oxalis 'Plum Crazy' is one tough plant. After making it through the winter as a houseplant, I grew it outdoors in a planter with other residents where it held its own and spread an appreciable amount. There is nothing to worry about with this Oxalis becoming to aggressive, as it is not hardy north of Zone 8.
Oxalis Iron Cross accents this
gaudy Scadoxus flower.

Another extremely easy shamrock to grow from a bulb is Oxalis tetraphylla Iron Cross, or lucky shamrock. I planted the tubers around the outer edge of a pot that held a Scadoxus (blood lily) bulb around mid-March, and the leaves began to poke out around four weeks later.

Give Oxalis Iron Cross full sun outdoors in summer for a flower reward.
Oxalis Iron Cross hails from Mexico and enjoys a long, hot summer, which is when it puts out a succession of rose-colored flowers.

Whether you grow shamrocks for indoors or out, for their leaves or for their flowers, they're charming little bulbs to try and are more readily available than used to be.

1 comment:

  1. I have the wild oxalis growing in a pot I brought in from outside this fall. It isn't blooming but I would let it do so if it wants to. I think all oxalis are pretty. You have some beauties here.

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