Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Gardening 101: False Shamrocks

Search

Gardening 101: False Shamrocks

March 17, 2017

Wood Sorrel, Oxalis regnellii: “False Shamrock”

As a member in good standing of the wood sorrel family, Oxalis regnellii should not be confused with the invasive clovers you are always trying to dig out of your lawn and flower beds. (Or at least I am.)

Have no fear, adorable Oxalis regnellii is nobody’s idea of a pernicious weed. It forms lovely green mounds in the garden and sends forth tiny white flowers in in late spring and summer. It also tolerates life as a houseplant. Read on for care and feeding tips indoors or out:

Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.

What makes this a false shamrock? It has three leaves instead of four. (A four-leafed clover is rare, and the result of a mutation.)
Above: What makes this a false shamrock? It has three leaves instead of four. (A four-leafed clover is rare, and the result of a mutation.)

Clover and wood sorrel leaves look similar, but the two belong to different genera, botanically speaking. Clovers belong to the Trifolium genus (of which there are hundreds of species.) Of the several hundred species of wood sorrel, Oxalis regnellii is among the most prized for ornamental use.

Who can&#8
Above: Who can’t use a little extra luck? When I saw tiny, potted Oxalis regnellii in bloom at a local nursery the week before St. Patrick’s Day, I bought five.You can buy Oxalis Regnellii bulbs in bulk (from 10 for $3.30, up to 500 for $110) from Brent and Becky’s.

Cheat Sheet

  • Plant Oxalis regnellii with other late-spring bulbs to create a flowering foil for the withering foliage of tulips and narcissi.
  • Happy as a houseplant in well-drained soil and a sunny spot.
  • Don’t be alarmed to see false shamrock’s leaves fold up at night; it’s just sleeping.

Keep It Alive

  • Will tolerate sun or shade.
  • Hardy in USDA Growing Zones 7-10.
  • Avoid watering or fertilizing Oxalis regnellii when it is dormant.
Oxalis regnellii grows from bulbs; after the flowers finish blooming, the leaves die back. But be patient; after a period of dormancy they will grow again.
Above: Oxalis regnellii grows from bulbs; after the flowers finish blooming, the leaves die back. But be patient; after a period of dormancy they will grow again.
You also can buy Oxalis Regnellii plants for $4.50 apiece from Glasshouse Works.
Above: You also can buy Oxalis Regnellii plants for $4.50 apiece from Glasshouse Works.
A popular cousin is O. triangularis, with purple leaves and the same cheerful disposition. Read more about it in Expert Advice:  Low-Maintenance Houseplants.
Above: A popular cousin is O. triangularis, with purple leaves and the same cheerful disposition. Read more about it in Expert Advice: 10 Low-Maintenance Houseplants.

False shamrock or no, we are feeling the pull of Ireland. See more posts:

Product summary  

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0