Oxalis Triangularis in pot

Oxalis triangularis

The striking purple leaves stand out amongst green indoor plants and it’s also photophilic, which mean that the leaves open and close in response to light in a process called nystinasty. At night the leaves fold down and during the day they will open up. Have a look at some of these time-lapse videos.

Some plants are hard to take care of (I’m thinking of a Fiddle leaf fig) but the Oxalis Triangularis is fairly low maintenance.

Oxalis is a genus of the wood sorrel family and is well known for being an invasive weed in most gardens. However, there are some varieties of Oxalis that are perfectly well behaved and don’t spread all over the places, such as the Oxalis Triangularis. Oxalis is often referred to as a purple shamrock or false shamrock. It’s history can be traced back to St Patrick in Ireland, even though the plant originated in Brazil.

How to care for it:

Light: Keep your Oxalis Triangularis in a filtered bright to medium light but away from direct light. It grows well in morning light (i.e. East window). It is fairly hard to burn since Oxalis grows outdoors, the glass in your windows will filter out a lot of the intensity of the light, however it will grow best when it’s away from direct sunlight. Take a look at some of the images at the bottom of this article for the lighting suggestions.

Water: Allow the soil to dry between watering, ensure the top 2cm of soil is dry before watering. The worst thing you can do with bulbs is overwater as it will rot the bulb. Expect to water about once every 2 weeks.

Soil: A well-drained potting mix works well. Use a standard Premium indoor potting mix. Oxalis will NOT grow well in overly wet soil but does like moist soil. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole.

Pot: Oxalis pots need to be deep, shallow pots will not work well. Avoid growing them in a pot with other plants as they can go dormant and their growth requirements are different. As the Oxalis tends to grow and bend towards the light, you should also rotate your pot every 2 weeks to ensure the foliage grows evenly.

Temperature: Standard indoor temperatures are fine. The ideal temperature is around 60-70°F(15-21°C). Temperatures above 75°F/24°C become problematic. At high temperature, the Oxalis will start to look ‘tired’ and may go into dormancy and drop all it’s leaves.

Fertiliser: I don’t find fertiliser necessary in new plants, but you could add every 2 months if the soil is older than a year. Premium potting mixes usually contain slow release fertiliser for at least 4 months worth.

Oxalis in Ceramic pot
Oxalis in Ceramic pot

Oxalis in Terracotta pot
Oxalis in Terracotta pot

Oxalis Regnellii in pot
Oxalis Regnellii in pot

Oxalis on balcony
Oxalis on balcony

Some interesting facts

Pests and disease

Oxalis With rust disease
Oxalis With rust disease

Rust: One of the most common diseases is rust, which appears in the lower half of the leaves. I encountered this on one of my plants. You can use some rust sulfur copper powder to stop the spores from multiplying but there is no way to reverse the damage. Best is to cut off the affected leaves and wait for regrowth.

Ringspot: This is caused by the ringspot virus which is due to the presence of aphids, also known as plant lice.

Oxalis with burnt leaves
Oxalis with burnt leaves

Burnt leaves: Too much direct sun can burn your Oxalis, especially if you have moved it from a medium light location to a high light location too quickly. You will know if your leaves are burnt if they look dry and crispy on the edges. This is different to Rust which looks more like mold all over the leaves.

Oxalis flowering

Characteristics: Oxalis came to the United States in the 1980s and it’s popularity continues to grow. Indoors. When the weather is warm and there is adequate moisture, the Oxalis blooms with small, pale bell like flowers. There are about 300 species of Oxalis, the green leaf variety that makes great indoor plants is the Oxalis Regnellii. Oxalis gets it’s name from the fact that it’s high in Oxalic acid due to it’s tangy taste.

Dormancy: Oxalis occasionally go dormant and this happens suddenly in summer (which is quite strange for plants as it’s the growing season), this usually happens every 2-7 years, it may look like your Oxalis has died. Don’t panic! Simply stop watering and let the soil dry and put it in a dark corner. In about 2-4 weeks you will see a new leaf emerge and then you can start to water again and move it back into a sunny spot. They can also go dormant when temperatures exceed 80°F/27°C

Toxicity: Oxalis is classified as an edible plant, however it’s very bitter for humans. Oxalis is poisonous to pets if eaten. Watch out for kitties that chew on the leaves.

Examples of Oxalis in good lighting positions

Oxalis next to window
Oxalis in the rain
Oxalis in medium light
Oxalis on window sill

You should have everything that you need to grow your Oxalis. If you have any questions feel free to ask a question below.

Happy Growing.