Unfortunately for the black thumbs of the world, those darling houseplants of the design blog world are not typically beloved for their ease of care. They’re showstoppers, to be sure, with dramatic leaves and bright blooms, but rarely are they dogged survivors. (We’re looking at you fiddle-leaf fig!)
That’s why we’re so excited to tell you about the shamrock plant (Oxalis regnellii). It’s a dainty little plant, often only about six inches high, but a head-turner nonetheless. As you may have guessed, the shamrock plant has clover-shaped leaves in a bright shade of what can only be described as shamrock green, and it produces tiny star-shaped white flowers during fall, spring, and winter. Best of all, it’s super easy to care for.
Oxalis regnellii is a member of the wood sorrel family and is in fact related to the tiny little clovers that grow in sidewalk cracks and as weeds in your garden beds.
Its relative, Oxalis triangularis, commonly called ‘purple shamrock‘ or ‘false shamrock’ for its triangular leaves of deep plum or mottled green and purple, makes an equally stunning and forgiving houseplant. Both Oxalis regnellii and Oxalis triangularis are photophilic. That means the leaves fold up at night along the stem, reopening again in the morning light—another reason they are so fun to grow.
Caring for the shamrock plant is straightforward: put it in a sunny window and water when the top inch of soil gets dry, typically only every other week. When you water, rotate the pot so the opposite side faces the window to ensure that the foliage grows evenly on all sides. Feed it occasionally with a liquid houseplant fertilizer like Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer. Do this reliably and you’ll have a happy shamrock plant for years to come!
(Note: The shamrock plant is poisonous to pets, so it might not be a good choice for homes with kitties that like the chew on leaves.)
The other important thing you need to know about growing this plant is that it goes dormant during the summer, which is the opposite of most houseplants. It might not happen every year, but when it does, it may look like you’ve killed it. Don’t panic. A shamrock plant actually grows from a bulb, and during its dormancy period the foliage will die back completely, like daffodils do. If this happens, set it in a dark corner and stop watering it. When you notice new foliage peeking through, move it back into the light and resume watering and fertilizing—you’ll soon have your beloved houseplant back.