Q. Isn’t the shamrock plant a type of clover?
– A curious Irishman for March 17
A. Although shamrocks (Oxalis acetosella) are thought to be a clover type plant because they have a three-lobed leaf, they are actually a species of Oxalis family or Sorrel, not a species in the Trifolium family or clover. I hate to break some Irishman’s bubble but it is quite common to find a four-leaf clover, but very hard to find a four-leaf Oxalis, if not impossible.
Shamrocks have leaflets that are divided into 3 leaflets but these leaflets fold up at night and in cloudy weather. Their flowers do this also. Many greenhouses sell these plants for children due to this curiosity.
Shamrocks have a low trailing habit which makes them ideal to be grown in a hanging basket. The roots stay close to the surface of the soil, so they should not be planted too deeply in any container. You need to water these plants when the surface soil feels a bit dry, but do not allow the soil to dry out too much or they will wilt. Sometimes this becomes a permanent wilt. (Botanists have a hard time accepting the term death when it refers to a plant!)
Every species of Oxalis blooms. Certain species are named by the color of their flower. After they have finished blooming, allow them to go dormant for about two to three months. At this time to cut back on the watering and do not fertilize the plants at all. After this dormant period is up, you can go back to watering and fertilizing them as directed. This is usually a blooming houseplant fertilizer.
Shamrocks grow well as houseplants as long as you keep the evening temperatures on the cool side of 55 to 60 degrees. They should be grown in indirect sunlight. Then give them a few hours of direct sunlight in early February to have flowers produced for March 17.
After three or four years, they will need to be divided. Do this at the end of the dormant period. You will be surprised to find a number of small bulblets, which can then be separated and placed into their own individual pots so that you can share them with your Irish friends and charge the Irish wannnabes.
Or you could sow a few pots of clover and give them these as most non-Irishman would not know the difference between shamrocks and clover. The flowers of a true shamrock have five distinct petals, not a white fuzzy head grouping of flowers.
Send your gardening questions to Charles Giedeman, Lifestyle, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.
source : www.belleville.com