Grow a Lucky Charm: How to Care for a Shamrock Plant

Updated: Dec. 21, 2021

Learn how to choose and grow a false shamrock plant, what it looks like, and what to do if your shamrock plant keeps dying back.

What Is a Shamrock Plant?

A Shamrock plant in a white pot sports small white flowers.Getty Images / AYImages
A shamrock plant in a container

Members of the Oxalis family, which are called shamrock plants, false shamrock or purple shamrocks offer triangular leaves that grow in bunches of three. This makes them look just like actual shamrocks. You can find a shamrock plant commonly available at stores around Saint Patrick’s Day.

Its leaves close at night and open each morning and delicate pale flowers sometimes shoot up above the foliage on slender stems, making them an attractive houseplant.

Check out 5 lucky shamrock facts for St. Patrick’s Day.

Where Do Shamrock Plants Grow?

Shamrock plants can be grown outside in Zones 8 to 11. In colder climates, grow this plant inside and bring it outside in summer to get more sun.

Plant in full sun or part sun and in well-draining soil. It has average water needs. Water regularly but let the soil dry between waterings. Deer and rabbits usually don’t bother it. It looks fantastic in woodland gardens or low borders.

Just be cautious before planting, as some members of the Oxalis family are invasive in parts of the United States. Thoroughly research specific plants before planting them in your landscape.

Psst—we found the top 10 edging plants for three seasons of color.

What’s Wrong With My Shamrock Plant?

“I keep a shamrock plant in an east-facing window. I try my best, but the leaves have shriveled twice. After removing the dead material, it grows back. What’s happening?” asks Jackie Hildebrand of Strongsville, Ohio.

Melinda Myers: Shamrock plants (Oxalis), which are actually members of the wood sorrel family, normally go dormant for short periods. The leaves naturally start to yellow and dry. When this occurs, water less often until the leaves are completely brown. Then place the plant in a cool, dark location until new growth begins. Move it back into bright light as soon as any green appears, and start watering it often enough to keep the soil slightly moist. Enjoy the show as new growth shoots up.

Don’t miss these fabulous foliage plants for garden pizzazz.

Make a Lucky Shamrock Container

shamrock plantCountry Woman

Spring-start your growing season with this sprightly little treasure. And make way for rainbows!

Spray-paint a small pot gold, applying 2-3 coats and waiting a minute or so between each coat. Fill the pot with a lucky shamrock (Oxalis plant). String a clover charm onto a piece of green ribbon. Wrap the ribbon around the pot’s top edge and tie into a bow.

Tip: If your pot is solid on the bottom, drill some drainage holes or add a layer of pebbles to the pot before planting.

Next, check out the best houseplants for low light.