How to grow Oxalis
If you need an attractive low growing
plant to use as a Border to conceal the scrappily base
of rosebushes or to mask the water faucet on the side
of your house, try oxalis. Or if you've a narrow park-way
too difficult to mow easily or an area underneath an
air vent in a house wall, oxalis will meet this requirement
easily: All it, asks is some shade, though it will grow
happily in full sun.
Its clover like foliage never gets higher
than 12 or 14 inches. The lush density of its leaves
makes it likable for groundcover, border, or concealment:
It hangs attractively in hanging baskets and wall brackets,
and it's a sure-free success for winter bloom. Its versatility
makes it attractive also in rock gardens.
In sunny windows, the long-stemmed flower
clusters will open about ten o'clock in the morning
and close toward evening. Each blossom reopens for several
days before it withers and drops off. The same bulbs
will bloom for several years if they are rested in the
summer and potted again in the autumn. Plant new bulbs
promptly; exposure to air is detrimental.
Farm people might mistake it for wood
sorrel, which grows so freely out of doors. They belong
toe the same family but oxalis originated as a greenhouse
growth where it was used for its decorative qualities.
Oxalis will not take too low a temperature
and for that reason cannot be considered a perennial
in many areas. In California it is grown in the open
and sands fairly low temperatures.
Whether you grow this plant from seed
or rootstock or tubers, start them in the spring, if
you are going to grow them out of doors: They require
an acid soil and they should be kept well watered. Mixed
loam, sand, and leaf mold make a good soil prescription
for them. Given some shade they will grow taller in
leaf and larger in flower. They give color for many
weeks. Because they increase easily and bloom year after
year you can get a, good start from just-a small supply.
If you pot-plant from bulbs, plant them 1 inch deep.
In locations where the foliage dies, the rootstocks
may be put aside and dried out until the following autumn
when sun and water make them active again.
Among the species that are hardy, the
commonest one is the native one known as wood sorrel,
useful in rock gardens and for naturalizing as groundcover.
On the West Coast O. oregano is used as a groundcover
in shady places and covers itself with a rose-shaded
flower. Also useful for the rock garden with rose-red
-and lilac flowers are O. bowieana and O. rubra. With
its rose-red 5 petaled flower above its cone-shaped
tube, O. bowieana will continue to bloom all summer
in a compatible rock-garden setting, and it's extremely
effective planted with gray plants such as dusty miller
or against gray stonewalls.