Oxalis adenophylla 'Purple Heart'

Oxalis adenophylla 'Purple Heart'

Scientific Name

Oxalis adenophylla 'Purple Heart'

Scientific Classification

Family: Oxalidaceae
Genus: Oxalis


Oxalis adenophylla 'Purple Heart' is a bulbous, perennial that forms a clump, up to 6 inches (15 cm) wide, with succulent, grayish leaves. They have purple colored base, giving each glaucous green rosette a "purple heart". The flowers are deep pink with the petal base white and the throat greenish shaded.


USDA hardiness zones 7a to 9b: from 0 °F (−17.8 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Oxalis can be grown indoors as a houseplant or outdoors in the garden. They from the garden center are generally available in the fall or early spring.

These plants need bright indirect light to grow well and produce flowers. They can often bloom all winter if kept in a sunny spot. Keep the soil barely moist but never soggy. Allow the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil to dry out before watering. It is best to water your Oxalis from the bottom so that the thin fragile stems of the plant don't get water logged and the soil stays loose. Oxalis grow best in cool temperatures between 60 to 70 ºF (15 to 21 ºC) during the day and 55 to 65 ºF (13 to 18 ºC) at night. The soil should be loose and sandy rather than rich and organic. Feed your plant monthly when it is actively growing with a basic houseplant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Never feed a Oxalis when it is dormant and the bulbs are resting.

To propagate Oxalis, simply split the plant into smaller plants and place them in their own pots. Keep it out of direct sunlight until new shoots appear.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Oxalis.


Oxalis adenophylla 'Purple Heart' is a cultivar of Oxalis adenophylla.


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Oxalis adenophylla 'Purple Heart' - garden

Origin and Habitat: Temperate regions in South America.
Altitude range: 1000-2600 metres above sea level (From near to well beyond the timber line).
Habitat and ecology: Oxalis adenophylla grows on flat dry areas or slopes facing north and is adapted for extreme weather conditions. It flowers on the southern spurs of the Andes where it can be bitterly cold and very windy. To protect itself against these conditions its grey-green foliage opens close to the ground. In its mountainous native habitat it is found growing in short turf and flowers as the snow melts.

Description: Oxalis adenophylla is a perennial, acaulescent plant that grows from a stem tuber in the soil which looks like a brown hairy bulb. It forms a carpet 2 to 12 cm hight and 8-13 cm across with elaborately folded grey-green leaves, each with up to 20 leaflets, that opens close to the ground. Single pale lavender-purple flowers of unparalleled beauty appear throughout late winter and early spring. Even without blossoms, it is intriguing with its umbrella-like, folded leaves on red stems ans is one of the nicest foliage plant as far as a gardener’s eye is concerned. At night or in bad weather both the flowers and foliage close up and are said to "go to sleep". The common name, silver shamrock, refers to the colour of the foliage. It is one of the more widely grown South American species and have even been used in various hybrids.
Tubers(corms): Brown bulb-like, very hairy, and completely surrounded by a lot of fibrous material reminiscent of strands of coir.
Roots: Fibrous.
Leaves: Clover-like, elaborately folded grey-green, bluish, turning pink or purplish in full sun, each with 9 to 20 leaflets that die away shortly after the flowers fade.
Flowers: Funnel-shape 2 to 4 cm across with five petals distributed radially, satin-pink to purplish with dark veins and maroon eyes. The flowers appear a few days after the leaves in late spring.

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Tovah Martin “The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot in Your Home” Timber Press, 28 August 2012
2) Beth Hanson “Spring-blooming Bulbs: An A to Z Guide to Classic and Unusual Bulbs for Your Spring Garden” 173th Edition, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2002
3) Nico Vermeulen, Richard Rosenfeld “Encyclopedia of House Plants” Taylor & Francis, 1999
4) Mary Moody “Encyclopedia of Flowers: Over 1,000 Popular Flowers, Flowering Shrubs, and Trees” Fog City Press, 2000

Oxalis adenophylla Photo by: Carolina González
Among loose pumice stones in volcanic ash near the Aluminé lake (Aluminé department, Neuquén province, Argentina) Photo by: Carolina González
Among loose pumice stones in volcanic ash near the Aluminé lake (Aluminé department, Neuquén province, Argentina) Photo by: Carolina González
Among loose pumice stones in volcanic ash near the Aluminé lake (Aluminé department, Neuquén province, Argentina) Photo by: Carolina González
Oxalis adenophylla Photo by: Carolina González
Oxalis adenophylla Photo by: Carolina González
Oxalis adenophylla Photo by: Carolina González

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Cultivation and Propagation: Oxalis is often overlooked as a garden flower because of its weed reputation. Oxalis adenophylla is not a weed, but a pretty and non-invasive, long-flowering Alpine specie adaptable to rock gardens, raised beds, pot culture, and window boxes. It is certainly a beautifully delicate plant that merits cultivation. This species is often grown by alpine enthusiasts because it likes a cool summer and is a good plant for rock gardens. It goes dormant when the temperature gets too cold or too warm. Growers from areas with warm summers and cold winters notice that they only grow in the autumn when temperatures are cooler. In more mild climate such as the west coast, they grow in spring and summer. Snow cover is probably necessary for protection in climates that have long and cold winters. As long as it gets enough sun and does not sit in water in winter, it blooms beautifully. Lots of light and good drainage are a must. The hybrids of Oxalis adenophylla are much more adaptable than the natural species and often more robust (but not so charming).
Soil: It should be potted in a mixture of peat, sand, pumice and lava grit, and loam and protected in a cold frame. The bulbs should be planted just below the surface.
Water: Water and feed liberally only in spring till the plants bloom, but do not over water. The foliage becomes straggly and limp after a while.
Exposure: Grow it in full sun. Plants usually do not live well where the sun is not strong, but those who live where the sun in stronger may tolerate some shade. If grown indoors put this pot plant in full sun to enjoy the flowers for a few weeks. Therefore, put it in the garden straight after flowering and enjoy it as a garden plant in the following year.
Hardiness: The plant tolerates low temperatures (-30° C or less) but needs protection against winter rains, can tolerate snow cover for several weeks per year.. USDA Hardiness Zone 5 to 8. Snow cover is probably necessary for protection in climates that have long and cold winters.
Winter care: The general recommendation is that the bulbs be dug out in winter and stored dry (they rot very easily in damp terrains), although in some cases those who live in moist winter areas have been successful leaving them in the ground when grown in very well-drained and gritty soil.
Maintenance: Deadhead the flowers, this will prevent the tuber to age too soon.
Use: They make superb rock garden plants, as well as adequate for the front of a border as well as being perfect for pots and containers.
Pests and diseases: Prone to rust, slugs and snails.
Propagation: It may be propagated by offsets and by seeds. Sow them during autumn, in a mix of equal parts of compost, regular garden soil and sharp river sand. Cover this mix with a layer of sand, distribute the seeds and spread some more sand over them to barely cover the seeds. Place your sowing pan in a cold frame or cold greenhouse if you have heavy rain in your area. If you have snow, place the sowing pan outdoors and let nature do its work. The seedlings can be transplanted once they are 5 cm tall. These pretty plants can bloom the first year grown from seeds, but will display their best from the second year on.

Why Is Oxalis Triangularis Called False Shamrock?

Another common name for Oxalis triangularis is False Shamrock, because many times it’s commercially marketed as a true shamrock or clover (Trifolium spp.), native to Ireland.

This is due to Purple Shamrock’s three petals and similar looks to that of clover. Actually, it is a member of the wood sorrel family and is a Brazilian native.

Some of the major differences between the Purple Shamrock and true shamrocks is it is better adapted to indoor growing conditions, as the conditions aren’t bright enough for clovers to grow properly. In addition, true shamrocks have a fibrous root system, whereas Purple Shamrock and most species of Oxalis have a bulb-like or tuberous root system.

Another major difference is true shamrocks perform as annuals and the Purple Shamrock is a perennial, although it usually goes through a period of dormancy about once per year.

Oxalis Triangularis (This plant is only five weeks old, but already looks amazing).

Pin these oxalis plant care tips for later

Would you like a reminder of these tips for growing ornamental oxalis? Just pin this photo to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in January of 2018. I have updated the post to add more growing tips, all new photos, a printable project card and a video for you to enjoy.

Oxalis Prevention and Lawn Maintenance

Placing mulch around landscape beds will prevent oxalis seeds from germinating, as will limiting light to the plant's seedbed. You can also keep oxalis to a minimum by maintaining a healthy lawn to create less space for it to grow. Make sure to test the soil to get accurate fertilizer and lime recommendations and combine these with mowing height and frequency requirements to keep your lawn thick.

According to Scotts, watering your lawn the right way is also critical. Deep and infrequent watering helps grass win the battle over weeds by encouraging more profound root growth. Watering too little or too frequently can cause shallow root growth, resulting in a thin lawn or bare spots. If you live in an area where rain is frequent, you don't need sprinklers to achieve the 1 inch of water per week that most lawns need.

Watch the video: Oxalis Triangularis. Butterfly Plant. Purpule Shamrock- Care u0026 Propagation. Series Part 2