I've come to the conclusion that the oxalis is a little bit magic. A couple of weeks ago I tracked down an Oxalis Triangularis at the very lovely Botany on Chatsworth Road. I've had my eye out for one ever since the other half and I spotted one in a nearby shop where it was not for sale. Also known as the purple shamrock, false shamrock or love plant, this delicate bulb flutters its butterfly leaves open as daylight comes and closes them again in the evening. With three dark purple leaves to each stem and soft pinkish white flowers, it's proving to be a striking addition to our living room.
I've found myself visiting it every day to say hello, and watch as it wakes in the morning and goes to sleep in the evening. Weirdly, I never thought I'd find myself falling in love with an oxalis. Growing up in warmer climes, I would help my grandparents weed in their vast rose garden from a very young age (they lived next door). One of the first weeds I learnt the name of, was undoubtedly the oxalis due to its nature to spread like wide fire because of its ever-multiplying bulbs. I would sift soil to dispose of the tiny bulbs, all to earn a few coins pocket-money. I'm not sure my grandma would be impressed that I now find myself besotted with an oxalis but I do think she'd be very happy that a) I have very green thumbs and b) it's confined indoors to a terracotta pot. I'm not sure what the variety of oxalis was that I used to weed was, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't as pretty or fluttery as this guy.
I'm not an expert but here are a few care tips I've picked up:
- Water well then let the top few cms of soil dry right out before watering again
- They like a well lit spot but not necessarily bright sunlight
- This variety works well indoors as a house plant
- It's poisonous to pets but apparently tastes pretty bad so they'd be a fool to taste too much
- The bulbs will multiply so you can propagate by splitting the clump and repotting
- If you forget to water it or it's too cold, it'll die right back above ground and put all its energy into the bulbs to survive
- If you neglect it badly, it will go into dormancy and die right back. But you should be able to bring it back to life pretty quickly, if you give it a good watering.