The Q&A Archives: Clover-Like Bulb (Oxalis)

Question: I have a plant that looks a little like a red and green clover. They were planted as small bulbs and get a very translucent white flower. I do not know what kind of plant it is and wish to know if it is an annual or perennial and how to care for it.

Answer: It sounds like you have some oxalis. These little bulbs should live for years if they are allowed to grow, bloom, and rest according to their natural schedule. They require full sun when they are actively growing, along with rich, evenly moist but well drained soil. Some gardeners also use a water soluble fertilizer solution. Eventually, they will rest or go dormant, meaning they turn brown and dry up and seem quite dead.

It is most important not to water them while they are dormant. When the foliage is completely dried up, you can take the bulbs out of the soil and keep them in a paper bag or you can leave them in the pot. Keep them in a cool (not freezing) dry place and check them so that you can replant them and move them into bright light as soon as they begin to sprout. Enjoy your oxalis!

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