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Speedy to sprout, fast to flower and good to grow in most any part of the country – add oxalis to your short list.
Choosing a site with optimum sunlight for oxalis depends on the region in the country where you garden and the variety you are planting. Oxalis iron cross is happy with sun most of the day and appreciates a bit of afternoon shade in the hottest regions. Other oxalis do best with dappled shade early in the day and no direct sun in the afternoon. Indoors, this means that an east facing window is often a good choice.
If you are planting in the ground, look for a site that drains well. Oxalis are happy in average soil and bulb rot is a risk in soggy soil. A pelleted, slow release fertilizer provides nutrients throughout the growing season. Planting in containers? Any standard potting mix will work well.
Plant outdoors in spring when frost danger has past and soil has warmed. In zones 7-10, plant any time the soil is workable, spring, summer or early fall.
Loosen your soil and poke the little bulbs down about 1 ½”. Don’t worry about which end is up; it doesn’t matter with oxalis. Plant about 1-1.5" apart. They’ll sprout and grow well from any position. After planting, water well to settle the soil around the bulbs. Sprouts typically appear within 2 weeks. Easy peasy.
In well drained soil, oxalis need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two. Watering every 3-4 days is usually ideal; keep an eye out for wilting behavior. Be aware of the number of days you've gone between waterings and if wilting is evident, you've gone a day too long. Once you have the pattern down, your oxalis will produce a sea of tiny flowers on thread-like stems for months with next to no care.
In zones 7-10, simply leave your oxalis in the garden; they’ll overwinter successfully. For varieties hardy to zone 6, a layer of mulch adds a bit of extra protection. In colder regions, there are three choices. First, you can treat your oxalis like annual and replace in the spring. Second, you can wait until the foliage yellows, lift the bulbs, trim off the leaves and store in in slightly damp peat in a cool (45-55 degrees), dark place. Or, you can bring potted oxalis indoors when the weather cools, place next to a sunny window and enjoy as a houseplant.
Light: Morning sun; afternoon shade in hottest areas (see variety specific details, left)
Depth: Cover with 1-2" of soil
Water: Average moisture
Uses: Containers, borders, hanging baskets and along walkways
Tip: Oxalis are the ultimate mixers; poke a few bulbs into most any container creation
They Start Out looking Like This:
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