The cultivated Shamrock plant (Oxalis regnellii) has hundreds of variations, and is found in abundance at retail locations around Saint Patrick’s Day. It has clover-shaped leaves that grow in variable shades of green and purple tones. Shamrock plants bloom periodically, with delicate white or pink flowers which peek out from clusters of leaves throughout their growing season. These whimsical, living good luck symbols can be enjoyed during the fall, winter, and spring months.
Shamrock plants differ from most house plants in a few ways. For one, Shamrock plants grow from tiny bulbs that may be planted outside in fall or early spring, depending on the hardiness zone in which you live. They also fold up at night and re-open when light returns. These plants require a dormant period in the summer time, and will begin to shut down, which Shamrock plant owners sometimes mistake for the plant being dead.
Shamrock Plant Care Tips
Place the plant in an area that is room temperature and receives good air circulation and bright, but not direct, light.
Soil should be kept lightly moist. Water sparingly and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Fertilize with a balanced houseplant food every few months.
When leaves begin to die back in late spring or early summer, the plant is telling you that it needs a time of dormancy to rest. At this time, move the plant to a cooler, darker location, away from direct light and do not water or fertilize it. The dormant period varies and may last anywhere from a few weeks to three months, depending on the cultivar and the conditions.
After the first couple weeks of dormancy, check your plant for new growth every week or so.
When new shoots appear, the dormancy period has ended. Move the plant back to a brighter location and resume the recommended regular plant care.
Have you ever kept a shamrock plant after St. Patrick’s Day? Share your shamrock plant care tips in the comments!
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.