Melinda Myers offers advice for the care of this St.Patrick's Day favorite.
Celebrate St. Patty's Day and the Start of Spring with a bit o' green. Use shamrock plants as a centerpiece on the dinner table, to brighten a sunny window or give as a gift.
The shamrock plant symbolizes the patron saint, Patrick, who was credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland. Records indicate he died on either March 8th or 9th. Since no agreement was reached, they added the numbers together and declared St. Patrick's Day March 17th.
The shamrock also stands for spring--the season of rebirth. The name 'shamrock' is Celtic for clover (Triflorum) which is too difficult to grow indoors. So we use this much easier-to-grow, oxalis, with clover-like leaves, in its place.
Grow your shamrock in a cool location with bright light. Water thoroughly whenever the top of the soil surface begins to dry. And don't be alarmed if you see the leaves fold up at night. This is the plant's normal response to changes in the light. As the light decreases, nyctinastic movement causes the leaves to begin to fold... just a fun fact that might help you win a game of trivia.
Plants will continue to flower for weeks. Remove faded flowers to keep the plant blooming. Eventually the leaves will begin to yellow and dry...no matter how you water. This is a normal sign that the plant is entering a rest period called dormancy. Stop watering and fertilizing as the plant begins to shut down. Remove the dried leaves and move the plant to a cool, dark location for several months.
Check on the dormant plant every few weeks. As soon as you see new growth appear, move it to a sunny window and begin watering. Start fertilizing once the plant is actively growing.
Shamrocks perform best when slightly potbound. Divide overgrown plants when they are at the end of their rest period. Lift and separate the bulbs and replant in containers filled with fresh potting mix. Plant the bulbs just below the soil surface, keeping it moist until growth begins.
Start the celebration early and keep it going throughout Spring with the help of one, two or more shamrock plants.
Shamrock Plants At a Glance
Name: Shamrock Plant (Oxalis)
Size: 6 inches
Light: Bright light, sunny, south window in winter
Water: Often enough to keep the soil slightly moist, not soggy. Do not allow the plants to sit in the excess water that collects in the saucer.
Soil: Quality potting mix
Fertilizer: Use a dilute solution every few weeks when actively growing and flowering. Do not fertilize dormant/resting plants.
Written by, gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Each month Melinda will feature a low maintenance plant perfect for beginning and experienced gardeners looking for attractive easy care plants. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Low Maintenance Plant of the Month with you!