Bring home a new houseplant or surprise a friend with a thoughtful gift of good luck and positivity. The shamrock is a traditional symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and Irish heritage—thought to bring extraordinarily good fortune to anyone possessing one with four leaves.

A common name of Oxalis (pronounced Ox-Alice) is Wood Sorrel. There are 300 different kinds… some with woody stems, some with edible tubers. Some are delicate wildflowers (Oregon native is Oxalis oregona) and one is the common, yellow-flowered weed (Oxalis corniculatus), which we called “sour grass” and snacked on while playing outside during my childhood. In fact, the name Oxalis comes from the Greek word for “sour”. Some varieties are recommended for use in green salads because of the sour juice, but all contain oxalic acid and should be used with discretion, as oxalic acid is toxic. Pets should be kept from consuming all parts of Oxalis for this reason.

All Oxalis plants have compound leaves of three or four leaflets. They are noted for folding their leaves (going to sleep) at night and on dark days, which makes them appealing to junior gardeners. Several varieties make excellent, low-maintenance houseplants—we want to highlight the traditional green Oxalis regnellii and the dark-leafed purple shamrock Oxalis triangularis. The green-leafed variety has a dainty, white flower and slowly spreads to form a low, mounding plant over time. The purple shamrock has a larger leaf than the green form and blooms in pale pink or lavender, which contrasts beautifully against the dark foliage.

All Oxalis plants are low-maintenance and easy-care. They require a well-drained, slightly acidic soil and indirect, bright sunlight. A relatively cool room (60–70 degrees) is ideal and the soil should be kept moist, but never wet. Plants should be watered from the bottom to avoid wetting the foliage and compacting the soil. Feed regularly during active growth with a balanced, liquid fertilizer.

Withhold water from the bulbous types when they have finished flowering, as they will begin to die back for a dormant period (usually late fall or early winter). Once dormant, store the bulbs in their pots or in bags of peat moss for about three months before repotting to grow again.

Now that you are ready to rock your Shamrock, stop in to see which one just has to come home with you—we are always happy to help you make your selection!

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