Oxalis plants—sometimes referred to as shamrocks and love plants—are perennial plants with three-parted leaves that share many characteristics with clovers. However, they’re individual plants with vastly different needs to ensure their success—especially if you’re growing them for aesthetic reasons. And although oxalis plants typically grow quite bushy, it’s terrific if you want them to thrive even more.
Here are a few excellent practices you can use to make an oxalis plant more bushy:
- Place your oxalis in a great spot with plenty of sunlight.
- Ensure you water the plant when it needs it.
- Maintain optimal ambient temperature throughout the year.
- Go easy on the fertilizer you use for the soil.
- Maintain constant humidity levels around the oxalis plant.
- Regularly prune your oxalis plant.
- Repot the oxalis plant every two to three years.
Most people grow oxalis plants to decorate their homes and beautify their gardens, but it’s not uncommon to use the plant as food and medicine. Regardless of your reason for having the plant, this article will provide helpful tips to get the most out of your oxalis.
1. Place Your Oxalis in a Great Spot With Plenty of Sunlight
Like every other plant, oxalis need plenty of sunlight to photosynthesize and flourish. However, you’ll need to be cautious with the sunlight, as overexposure can seriously damage the plant and cause its leaves to wilt. You should also avoid exposing the plant to the scorching midday sun—oxalis might seem hardy, but they’re not succulents.
About 6 to 8 hours of direct morning and evening sun should do if you want to get full, beautiful, and bushy plants. But you can also use tempered glass to make a makeshift or full-blown greenhouse to get indirect sunlight.
Growing oxalis under indirect sunlight means you can get all the benefits of the sun without worrying about burns—even in the middle of the afternoon. Tarps, tree branches, and bigger plants can also help provide shade if you have outdoor oxalis plants.
You can observe the leaves of your oxalis to ensure your plant is getting the right amount of sunlight. Healthy oxalis leaves follow light sources throughout the day and spread when bright light is shining on them. Stationary leaves mean you need to relocate your plant immediately.
2. Ensure You Water the Plant When It Needs It
You don’t need to overwater oxalis plants to make them flourish. A little bit of water every other day is all they need. Overwatering can cause root, bulb, and stem damage—resulting in leaf loss and seriously damaging your plants.
Overwatering can also lead to fungal infections such as powdery mildew and rust fungus, which can cause damage to your plant.
I recommend you water enough to keep the soil relatively moist throughout the year. So, you might need to water more during hot summer and less often during colder months. Just ensure you don’t underwater your oxalis, or they’ll dry out.
You can use a soil moisture meter to track the water in the soil so you can water as appropriate. Remember to water near the roots with room temperature water for best results.
3. Maintain Optimal Ambient Temperature Throughout the Year
Oxalis plants like moderate environmental conditions if you want them to be bushier. They’ll wilt if it gets too hot, and they won’t produce a lot of leaves if the temperature falls below a certain level. So, it’s best to keep them between 60 and 80 °F (15.6 and 26.7 °C) if you want bushy plants.
Some plants might thrive as much in these conditions, so I recommend you ensure the temperature never rises beyond 75 °F (23.9 °C) to get lovely, healthy oxalis plants. Ensure you don’t expose your oxalis to temperatures below 60 °F (15.6 °C), as this can be fatal.
You can move your indoor plant close to a heater and cover outdoor plants with sheets to maintain optimal temperatures during winter. However, any shade will cool your oxalis during summer.
Remember to keep an eye out for the ambient temperature as often as possible. To get accurate temperature readings, you can use a simple indoor or outdoor thermometer.
4. Go Easy on the Fertilizer You Use for the Soil
Oxalis prefer moderate resources if they grow, thrive, and become bushy, so you’ll need to be careful when fertilizing the plants. I recommend you use liquid fertilizer once or twice a month for best results. You can fertilize as you water to make the process easier.
Ensure you never fertilize your oxalis more than twice a month, as repeated fertilizer treatments can cause salt buildup to burn the plants. Remember to take great care when fertilizing, and don’t use too much during a session.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when dealing with all kinds of chemical fertilizers.
5. Maintain Constant Humidity Levels Around the Oxalis Plant
You don’t need to alter humidity much to get bush oxalis plants. Average room humidity (around 30% to 50%) will do, and these are achievable levels in most homes. You can use a humidifier to maintain constant levels for indoor plants, but outdoor plants will benefit from misting.
While misting can help provide optimum humidity levels for bushy oxalis plants, it can also increase the risk of damage associated with overwatering. Therefore, I recommend using a humidity tray to maintain optimal levels.
Of course, your plant’s success is only as good as what you measure, so remember to check the humidity levels as often as possible. You can use a hygrometer to get accurate readings.
6. Regularly Prune Your Oxalis Plants
Cutting back your oxalis is one of the essential steps in promoting full, vibrant foliage. Unpruned oxalis plants may become rangy and lack bountiful leaves. Pruning encourages new leaf growth and overall health, and oxalis thrives on a yearly hard prune.
Here’s how to do it:
- Remove spent flowers with sterilized shears as close to the stem base as possible.
- In late summer, the leaves will wilt and brown when the oxalis may go into dormancy. Trim back the foliage to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the plant base.
- If your oxalis is potted, move to a cool, dark place for a month or two with minimal watering.
- Repeat the above step if your oxalis is outdoors and mulch around the plant base for protection.
7. Repot the Oxalis Plant Once Every Two to Three Years
You should repot oxalis plants every year or two for them to flourish, and occasionally swapping out planters could help you get fuller and better-looking plants. I recommend you increase pot sizes so the plant’s roots have more room to grow and the oxalis develops better shoots.
Repotting is also an excellent opportunity to improve soil quality and feed high-quality nutrients to your plants.
Here’s how you can repot your oxalis plant:
Prepare the Pot & Soil Mix
The first thing you should do is pick a larger pot and prepare a good soil mix for your oxalis plant. I recommend you use a planter with drainage holes to ensure you don’t accidentally overwater the soil.
Water Before Transplanting
Ensure you properly water the plant no more than 24 hours before transplanting. Careful watering will help reduce the risk of transplant shock and ensure you minimize the stress on the oxalis during the process. Stress can cause your plants to lose leaves or, worse, die.
Check for Damage
Remove the oxalis from its previous pot and examine it for damage. Repotting is a great way to get rid of pests and ensure your plant isn’t suffering from any disease, so don’t skip this step.
Put the Plant in the Pot
First, you’ll add a little soil to the new pot and place your oxalis plant inside it. Remember to be careful, so you don’t cause any physical damage to the plant.
Then, fill the rest of the pot with soil. You don’t need to pat down or compact the soil. Compressing the soil can damage roots, remove soil oxygen, and kill beneficial organisms.
Allow the Plant to Settle in
Give the plant a few days to settle down in its new home. You’ll usually notice improved results after a few weeks. Remember to care for the plant as you usually would so it grows well.
You can repot during winter—when the oxalis plants are dormant—but spring will work just as well. Remember to repot no more than once every two to three years so you don’t harm your oxalis plant.
Oxalis are hardy and beautiful plants that help beautify gardens and provide food and medicine. They’re trendy, but some gardeners struggle with getting the plants to thrive as much as they’d like. S
o, to ensure productive growth, take care to provide:
- The correct location for sunlight
- Adequate watering
- Suitable temperature and humidity
- Regular pruning
- Repotting every 2-3 years
And while all these tips are helpful, they’ll work even more effectively if you practice all of them when caring for your oxalis plant.