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Oxalis for St. Patrick's Day

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The luck of the Irish extends to everyone on St. Patrick's Day, and here is the perfect plant to help celebrate your good fortune.

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Oxalis plants require plenty of light and will bloom all winter if placed in a sunny window with cooler temperatures. Nighttime temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night, and no higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, provide the ideal environment. If temperatures go above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant may go into its dormancy period.

Dormancy, which happens in the summer months, is important in the life of oxalis and the first sign is leaf dieback. When this happens, cut back on water. You can cut the leaves off or just let them die back. Move the oxalis to a cool dark place for two to three months, until new foliage starts to appear. A good place would be in a basement. At this time when the new foliage begins, move the plant back into a sunny window and start feeding a balanced fertilizer and begin watering again.

If your plant starts to get tall and leggy, it is most likely not getting enough light. If it fails to bloom, it is in need of rest and you should cut back on watering and fertilizing, letting it go dormant. If the leaves start to yellow, it is a sign that you are overwatering. Too little water will result in wilting. Make sure you don't let the plant get too wet or it will suffer root rot.

If you are buying an oxalis plant, look for a plant with lush foliage and healthy flowers. If you choose to start with the tubers to grow your own plants, plant several in a pot or hanging basket filled with any good soil mixture. Keep them in a cool dark place for a week or two, until top growth appears.

Allow the top inch of soil to go dry between waterings. Feed your oxalis every other week with liquid houseplant food diluted to half strength. You can easily divide your oxalis by gently pulling the tuberous roots apart and planting them in their own pots, using regular potting soil.

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