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Oxalis triangularis, also known as false shamrock, purple shamrock, and love plant, is a gorgeous purple plant that can be grown outdoors or indoors as a houseplant. Read on for Oxalis triangularis indoor care, propagation, and more!
Oxalis triangularis is native to parts of South America. This plant’s foliage is very unique, for both its gorgeous purple color and for its photophilic aspect—meaning its leaves and flowers fold closed at night and open in the morning in response to light.
Where can I buy an Oxalis triangularis?
You can easily find an Oxalis triangularis plant for sale, as well as bulbs, on Etsy. Check out this stunning purple Oxalis triangularis plant from one of my favorite Etsy shops!
How do you take care of a purple oxalis plant?
The most important part of Oxalis triangularis care is that this plant has a dormancy period. Proper care through dormancy is crucial, as it is very different from when the plant is actively growing. I’ll review Oxalis triangularis dormancy first and then review how to care for this plant while it’s actively growing.
Oxalis Triangularis Dormancy
Oxalis triangularis has a dormancy period after the growing season. You might notice the foliage starting to droop, the plant looking like it’s dying, and the foliage no longer opening. Allow it to die back. Once it’s died back, you can remove the dead foliage.
Move the pot to a darker, cooler area for about a month—but it could take even longer than that. Don’t water it or fertilize it.
When you see new growth starting to appear, commence with this plant’s normal care routine, which I’ll describe throughout this post. The only thing you should do differently is to start by watering it lightly and gradually increase your watering to a normal level.
Now that we’ve covered dormancy, the rest of this care guide will be for when the plant is actively growing unless I note otherwise.
Does Oxalis need sun or shade?
Oxalis triangularis prefers bright to medium, indirect light. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to come from the sun—you can use grow lights!
Be sure to monitor your plant under the grow lights for the first few days. Adjust the distance from the plant to the light if needed.
What kind of grow lights should you purchase? I wrote a whole post on grow lights for indoor plants, but if you’re in a hurry, my two favorite grow lights are below:
Water your Oxalis when the top inch or so of the potting mix is dry. It may start to go dormant if kept too dry for too long, but be careful not to overwater it either or you could put it at risk of root rot.
Humidity and Temperature
Normal household humidity is fine for this Oxalis.
Normal household temperatures are generally fine, but the plant will start to enter dormancy with temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 degrees Celcius), so try to keep temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 and 23.8 degrees Celsius).
Use a potting mix that holds some moisture but is also well draining. You can use an indoor plant potting mix with some perlite added in. You can also add in some peat which will help hold more moisture.
You can use a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer at half-strength every other week while the plant is not dormant.
Repot your Oxalis triangularis every other year. Use a pot one size up from its current pot so the plant has room to grow, and make sure the pot has good drainage.
You can also repot the bulbs while the plant is dormant. Plant the bulbs an inch to two inches down into a pot with moistened potting mix. Space them out by at least an inch so they’re not planted right on top of each other.
Give them a little water and put them back into bright, indirect light. Try to do this towards the end of its dormancy. The plant needs time to rest, so don’t do this immediately after it goes dormant. It might take a few weeks for growth to appear, so be patient.
Once the plant has gone dormant, you can remove any dead foliage.
You can also trim off any dead flowers once they die using a pair of clean, sharp scissors.
In addition to its beautiful purple foliage, Oxalis triangularis also blooms flowers! You’ll see light pinkish-purple and white flowers. The flowers also close at night, just like the leaves.
Problems, Diseases, and Pests
There are many possible reasons for problems with houseplants, so it’s important to evaluate your entire care routine if you notice your plant is struggling. However, these are a few common causes of Oxalis triangularis problems.
- White spots
- This might be powdery mildew (a fungal disease) – This is commonly due to too much moisture caused by wet, dark, humid conditions with poor air circulation. Often, the problem isn’t too bad and will go away on its own, but if the case is severe you can use a fungicide to treat it. Be sure to read the instructions on the label and use caution if you have pets.
- White spots can also be caused by too much direct sun.
- One potential pest is mealybugs. If you see white spots like I mentioned above, look closely to make sure they’re not actually mealybugs instead of powdery mildew.
- Other potential pests are aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. There are more in-depth ways to deal with each specific pest, but for general houseplant pest control, I really like Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control. Be sure to read the instructions on the label and use caution if you have pets.
Oxalis Triangularis Propagation
Oxalis Triangularis Propagation by Bulbs
You easily propagate your Oxalis triangularis by repotting the bulbs into separate pots while the plant is dormant. This is done in the same way that I described in the repotting section:
Plant the bulbs an inch to two inches down into a pot with moistened potting mix. Space them out by at least an inch so they’re not planted right on top of each other. Give them a little water and put them into bright, indirect light. Try to do this towards the end of its dormancy. The plant needs time to rest, so don’t do this immediately after it goes dormant. It may take a few weeks for new growth to appear.
Oxalis Triangularis Propagation by Division
You can also divide your plant while it’s out of dormancy. If you have a nice, full plant you can choose to divide it into two, three, four, etc. sections, each section with its own bulbs.
Just gently remove the plant from the pot and separate a section, trying not to cause too much damage to the roots and making sure you are getting the whole root clump and its bulbs along with the plant. If the roots are REALLY tangled, use clean, sharp scissors to cut them away, but try to keep as much of the roots intact as possible.
Repot each piece into its own appropriately sized pot, give it a good watering, and put it back in bright, indirect light. Your plant may be a little shocked and some foliage may close up. Just give it some time to adjust.
Is Oxalis triangularis poisonous to humans?
Humans can eat Oxalis triangularis, but it should not be eaten in large amounts. I personally have never tried eating this plant (maybe one day!) but through my research, I’ve found that this plant can be eaten—in moderation—raw or cooked. Please do your own research first if you’re going to attempt to eat this plant.
Is Oxalis triangularis poisonous to pets?
Oxalis triangularis is toxic to pets if eaten in large amounts, so even though eating one leaf probably will not do much harm, you should still keep this plant out of their reach.