How to Save Your Shamrock Plant

Updated November 21, 2016

The shamrock is the symbol of Ireland and of St. Patrick. According to legend, St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to teach the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish. In addition to its cultural significance, the shamrock is an easy houseplant to grow. Unfortunately, many shamrock owners inadvertently kill their plant because they do not recognise the diseases that attack shamrocks, or they are not aware that every winter the shamrock lies dormant for two or three months.

Check for sticky webbing that appears between the stalks and leaves of your shamrock—the telltale sign of a spider mite infestation. As these nearly invisible pests suck out the plant’s sap, the shamrock will grow sick and die.

Mix a few drops of liquid dish detergent in water and add the garlic. Spray the mixture on the shamrock. This home remedy kills spider mites.

Repot your shamrock if you notice orange rusty spots on the underside of the plant’s leaves. The orange spots are fungus rust, a parasite that will kill your shamrock. To kill the fungus spores, wash the pot in soap and hot water, dry thoroughly, then wash the pot again with neem oil. Repot the shamrock in fresh potting soil, and water with freshly brewed chamomile tea.

Stop watering your shamrock as soon as its leaves start to turn brown, the stems appear thin and the plant looses its bushy appearance. Typically these symptoms appear at the beginning of winter and are a sign that the shamrock is going into its dormant period.

Trim off the brown leaves of your shamrock. Place the plant in a cool place such as your basement or a unused room of your house or apartment. During the plant’s winter dormant stage, give it only a little water about once a week.

When spring comes, douse the shamrock with water, give it some all-purpose houseplant fertiliser and place it in a spot where it will receive bright, indirect sunlight.


Let the chamomile tea cool before using it to water your shamrock. Hot tea will damage and possibly kill your plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid dish soap
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Neem oil
  • Potting soil
  • Chamomile tea
  • All-purpose houseplant fertiliser
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About the Author

Thomas Craughwell is the author of more than 15 books, including "Stealing Lincoln's Body" (Harvard University Press, 2007) and "Saints Behaving Badly" (Doubleday, 2006). He has written articles for "The Wall Street Journal," "U.S. News & World Report" and "The American Spectator." He has been a guest on CNN and the BBC. Craughwell has an M.A. from New York University.