From glimmering green to deep purple, the many shades of the shamrock plant can add a bit of quaint whimsy and a pop of color to your garden or countertop. The cheerful plant contributes little white blooms and a bit of gaiety to your shaded ground cover or potted indoor plant in spring, fall and winter.
Shamrock's big name came from the Irish "seamróg," which means young clover or summer plant. The Druids revered the plant because of its triad of leaves. The number three is rather lucky in Celtic religion, and St. Patrick used the little shamrock plant as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. More than 500 species of shamrock exist, so you can choose a few that will flourish in your climate, although the Oxalis tetraphylla is the American version you see in stores for St. Patrick's Day.
Secrets to a Good Bloom
There are no shenanigans when it comes to the care and upkeep of this sweet, easy perennial.
They love a good bit of sun, but no later than the top of the morning. Part shade all day or at least part of the day keeps them perky. Cooler climates allow for fuller sun for their little leaves to gather enough energy to produce beautiful blooms.
You'll want to give them room to grow if you plant more than one. Space the plants at least 8 inches apart and about 2 to 5 inches deep. Apply a bit of mulch in spring and give them a wee dose of water weekly to keep them in a good state.
You can pull up a mature cluster of clover and break the thick, column-like root, or rhizome, and grow a new plant rather quickly and simply. Place the bare root in moist soil with the indent facing toward the sky, and new shoots should appear within a week of good sunshine.
The tiny leaves of the shamrock plant are hardy indoors or out, but they do go dormant each winter, so don't be surprised if they nod their heads low in the outdoor garden and even disappear when temperatures dip to freezing. They'll pop back up when the weather warms with a burst of showy green leaves and small white flowers. If you have a potted plant that goes dormant, give it a rest in a dark room or at the bottom of a closet. Don't water or fertilize your plant, but do keep an eye on it for new growth. When new shoots appear, move it to a sunny location and begin gentle watering and fertilizing.
Shamrocks are a fun and easy plant to cultivate that will greet you each morning with a cheery burst of green and white. It's a lucky plant for those who may not have the greenest of thumbs.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.