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How to plant oxalis bulbs

Updated April 17, 2017

With their shamrock-style leaves and delicate blooms, oxalis plants offer indoor and outdoor style to all gardens. Leaves react to the light, closing like delicate fans at night and on overcast days. Whether you're Irish or not, growing a shamrock or two does not require any luck and may bring you some instead. Plant oxalis bulbs properly to enjoy a full season of the renowned three-lobed leaves and intricate blossoms.

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  1. Choose a location with full sun. A low-lying area or raised bed works best. The best site provides full sun and consistently moist, but not waterlogged, soil.

  2. Remove enough dirt to cover the area where the oxalis bulbs will be planted. Mix equal parts compost and peat moss and place in the garden bed. A raised bed makes the work of removing the dirt easier. Moisten the soil slightly and add more as required to fill the bed.

  3. Plant oxalis after the last frost of spring. Dig holes 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep. Place the bulbs pointed side up. Bulbs can be spaced as close as 15 cm (6 inches) apart or farther, depending on the effect desired. Planting further apart will give more room for the plants to spread; closer planting makes for a large clumping effect.

  4. Cover the bulbs and tap the soil down gently. Do not push down or compact the soil. Water thoroughly. Once shoots start to emerge from the ground, feed the shamrocks with a general plant fertiliser according to package directions.

  5. Monitor daily the moisture needs of your oxalis plants. Provide enough water to keep the soil slightly moist. The addition of peat moss helps hold moisture. Optionally, add mulch once plants emerge to keep soil moisture from evaporating on sunny days.

  6. Tip

    Alternately, oxalis can be planted in pots. Plant in pots mixed equally with compost and peat moss. Plant bulbs 2.5 cm (1 inch) deep in the pots. For a full pot, bulbs can be spaced 10 cm (4 inches) apart if desired. Keep soil consistently moist but not soggy. Place in a sunny window. Feed according to packet directions every few months.

    House-grown plants do best when allowed to go dormant. Let the soil dry out for a few months. Remove the bulbs and separate if desired. Replant and water according to directions.

    More than 500 varieties of oxalis exist. Choose those that interest you and enjoy.


    Oxalis can be invasive. Plant where it can be managed. Raised beds will help keep oxalis from growing rampantly.

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Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Garden trowel
  • Watering can

About the Author

Edith Hignutt has written professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "Her Sports & Fitness," "Maritime Life & Traditions" and "BMXer." Hignutt holds a USA Cycling Coaching License and works with athletes in addition to owning a small plant nursery. She specializes in health and wellness, recreation and home and garden topics. Hignutt attended Rutgers University.

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