How to Grow Oxalis Plants in your Garden

Guide to Growing Wood Sorrel, False Shamrock, Sourgrass

The Oxalis genus includes the False Shamrock and Wood Sorrel.

Oxalis stricta
Oxalis stricta - Yellow wood sorrel by Gmayfield10.

They range in height from 5 to 30 cm (2 to 12 inches). This makes them ideal for growing in rock gardens, or close to the edges of crazy paving.

Oxalis acetosella
Oxalis acetosella - Common Wood-sorrel by Jörg Hempel.

Oxalis may flower towards the end of spring, or in the summer (species dependent). When in bloom they carry cup shaped pink or white flowers.

Commonly Grown Oxalis Species

Oxalis triangularis

Oxalis triangularis
Oxalis triangularis (False shamrock), photograph by Maja Dumat; CC.

Oxalis corniculata

Oxalis corniculata
Oxalis corniculata (Creeping Woodsorrel / Pprocumbent Yellow Sorrel / Sleeping Beauty), picture by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

How to Grow Oxalis

Oxalis Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Wood Sorrel, False Shamrock, Yellow Sorrel, Pink Sorrel, Sourgrass, Sauer klee, Culli, Shamrock, Good Luck Plant, Pickle Plant, Lemon Clover.
Scientific Names: Oxalis adenophylla; O. enneaphylla; O. lacinata; O. grandis; O. Regnellii.
Life Cycle: Hardy bulb. Hardy perennial. Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 2 to 16 inches (5 to 40 cm).
Native: Americas, Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10. As a perennial in zones 6 to 10.

Flowers: Spring and/or summer.
Flower Details: Yellow, white, pink, red. Cup-shaped. Five petals. Ten stamens.
Foliage: Obovate. Usually three, sometimes four leaflets.

Sow Outside:
Seed: cover seed. Late Summer and autumn. Spacing 3 to 16 inches (8 to 40 cm).
Root: 2 inches (5cm). Autumn.
Sow Inside: Germination time: two weeks to two months. Temperature 60 to 70°F (16 to 21°C). Late summer and autumn (use fresh seeds). Transplant outdoors a few weeks after the last frost; temperatures should not drop below 41°F (5°C).

Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 4 to 7. Ordinary soil. In cool areas bring tubers indoors over the winter. Propagate: dividing in the spring or autumn).
Family: Oxalidaceae
Miscellaneous: Invasive in many areas. Seed heads explode and can spread seed as far as 160 inches (400 cm).

How to Grow Oxalis

False Shamrock, Wood Sorrel, and other Oxalis members can be grown from either roots or seeds.

If growing from roots, then bury the tubers about 4 to 5 cm (~2 inches) deep in the autumn.

The seeds should be sown using fresh seed; these are normally produced at the end of summer. Seeds of Oxalis should be lightly covered once sown.

Plants like to grow in sunny areas of the garden, and have a preference for an acidic soil (pH 4 to 7) that has good drainage.

If first growing Oxalis indoors, then the seeds will take about two to eight weeks to germinate at 12 to 21 degrees centigrade (55 - 70°F).

The young seedlings should be transplanted into the garden at about 10 cm (4 inches; small species) to 40 cm (16 inches; large varieties) apart in mid-spring, well after the last chance of a frost.

Caring for Oxalis

If you require more Oxalis plants, then they can be propagated by dividing the tubers in the autumn.

They pretty much look after themselves and require no special attention when growing in the garden. They thrive in dry soils, so only water plants in exceedingly dry conditions.