Hearing the name “oxalis” gives most gardeners chills, invoking images of garden and lawn weeds that are almost impossible to get rid of. Now clear those thoughts and open up to this beautiful Purple Shamrock, Oxalis regnellii ‘Triangularis’. Unlike its relatives, it does not spread or reseed and instead forms nice tight clumps of deep purple foliage. This plant is on the top of my list for 2015 and I would recommend you consider it too!
During a recent trip to Virginia I realized how close we were to Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. I’ve met Brent several times and was even lucky enough to have him come to Orlando to speak at the FNGLA’s Landscape Show a few years ago, and when I discovered we were only an hour from their shop it was a pretty quick decision! On my route to Colonial Williamsburg I took a short side trip to visit the mecca of bulb retailers in Gloucester, VA.
The majority of the bulbs in their vast selection are for more temperate gardens, requiring longer chill periods than we are able to accommodate in Central Florida. (Don’t worry, I still picked up a few of those too– they made their way to Iowa for Christmas gifts for my family.) Just look at the rows and rows of bulbs to chose from! I should also mention that their catalog is itself a delight to read. They do have a smaller selection of more “tropical” bulbs that caught my eye and I was pleasantly surprised to see several varieties of oxalis available. Now as you can see here, these little guys are nothing to write home about as sizable bulbs. It is fairly disheartening to go from the big, full narcissus and amaryllis bulbs to these little guys, but I promise they will grow well!
In Florida these can be planted any time of the year. I planted them right away when we returned from Thanksgiving and as you can see they have taken off. They are simple to plant and I just made small holes about an inch deep and they were beginning to show in a few weeks. Purple Shamrock are supposed to be hardy through Zone 8, and Plant Delights Nursery even mentions customers as far north as Zone 6 keeping them through the winter. If you are concerned about their hardiness they will also make a great houseplant requiring minimal care with regular watering.
I think the beauty of the Oxalis regnellii ‘Triangularis’ really shines through when it is placed next to a chartreuse or lime green foliage plant. By itself in a shady area it is likely to disappear, but paired with something bright it will be catch-your-breath beautiful. The photo at left shows Purple Shamrock next to Southern Living Plant Collection’s ‘Sunshine’ ligustrum. Awesome, right? With several bags of these in hand from our trip I made sure to plant a grouping in front of the ‘Sunshine’ ligustrum to really accentuate both plants.
I think this is a great plant to experiment with and try in many different situations. I’ve heard Brent use this phrase before and I love it for the perfect image that it invokes: “foliage is very attractive and perfect ‘shoes and socks’ companion plant to cover the bare soil around the ankles of all of your larger indoor potted plants.” Since I am planting this in the ground it will make the perfect front of the border, plays well with others, mixed bedding plant.