Oxalis Care

By: Earl Nickel

EARL NICKEL is an Oakland-based horticulturist, writer, and photographer. He writes a weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle profiling…

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Oxalis latifolia Photo: Erle Nickel

Oxalis latifolia Photo: Erle Nickel

Oxalis species are very easy to care for. When planning where to plant a particular genus, there are two important factors to consider—whether it is a summer- or winter-dormant type, and whether the plant requires sun or shade.

During their normal growing season Oxalis require light, regular watering; plant in fertile, well-drained soil to protect bulbs from rot.

Oxalis spiralis vulcanicola Photo: Annie's Annuals & Perennials

Oxalis spiralis vulcanicola Photo: Annie’s Annuals & Perennials

Most commonly available oxalis varieties are low growing, and most effectively used as a ground cover where their tough constitution can be useful for difficult situations. Oxalis oregana can endure deep shade and compete with tree roots. The sun loving varieties can provide a very attractive green carpet, either alone or as an understory planting. Varieties of O. spiralis make surprisingly effective spillers for a feature container, providing splashes of gold, orange, or burgundy. While certain of the unique species like O. hirta, O. squamata, or O. carnosa, are showy enough to feature in their own pot or garden location.