Oxalis recommendations?

Ron Vanderhoff rvanderhoff@sbcglobal.net
Thu, 06 Nov 2008 18:46:04 PST
Oxalis lovers (and haters),

Jim Waddick asked for suggestions of the Top Ten Oxalis to grow. I've grown about 275 Oxalis species and forms and can't limit my favorites to just 10. So here are my top 14:

Oxalis anomala: A very clean, medium sized white flower with yellow throat, but lots of them over a long period on a loose, sprawling plant and attractive plant.

Oxalis fabaefolia: Such an easy plant to grow. When the sulfur yellow flowers are at their peak of bloom they will be a solid mass of color, so bright it's almost hard to look at. One of the most intense yellows in the bulb kingdom.

Oxalis flava: There are so many forms that this is a collector's favorite. Flower color varies from yellows, similar to fabaefolia, to white and shades of pink. The attractive leaves also vary widely, always palmate and ranging from bright green narrow leaflets to blue green broad leaflets, sometimes with undulating margins.

Oxalis gracilis: The wiry, thin and airy habit of this unusual species is a break from what one might expect from an Oxalis. The soft orange flowers are quite pretty sitting on top of the foliage.

Oxalis inaequalis: The flower size doesn't seem right for this diminutive species. The very small, somewhat succulent leaves easily fit into a very small pot. But the 1-inch wide showy, bright coppery-orange flowers with yellow throats seem oversized for the plant. This species does form loads of crown bulbils, so be careful with it in mild climates.

Oxalis peridicaria (syn. O. lobata): I'm a sucker for small, bright yellow flowers against deep green foliage. This one originates from Chile and is the only one on my list not of South African descent. Don't confuse this with O. perdicaria, which is South African, usually a creamy white and also a nice species to grow.

Oxalis luteola: The many forms make this another collector's favorite. Most forms have varying degrees of burgundy red on the undersides of the fat, attractive leaves. Others have irregular splashes of the same color on the upper surface of the leaf. This low, matt-forming plant has large soft yellow flowers over a very long period - usually four months for me.

Oxalis massoniana: This one is in bloom right now for me. The small, bright orange flowers with yellow centers are so numerous that there is no foliage to see. A nice compact plant as well.

Oxalis meisneri: Another with brilliant yellow flowers and very deep, dark green foliage. But this time the foliage is thin and grassy appearing. Really quite pretty.

Oxalis obtusa: The dozens of flower colors and ease of growing make this and O. purpurea the most popular of all African Oxalis - deservedly so.

Oxalis palmifrons: Nice to grow if just for the attractive foliage. Just as well, because you may never see a flower. But still worth growing.

Oxalis pardalis: There are some very pretty forms of this species with a bushy habit and narrow leaflets. The best forms have burgundy-red foliage and soft violet-pink flowers over a three month period.

Oxalis purpurea: Like O. obtusa the huge variety of flower and foliage forms make this a hugely popular species. As a garden plant this might be even better than obtusa, although it will travel around a bit.

Oxalis versicolor: Most Oxalis exhibit photonastic flower movements (the flowers open and close in response to light). For me, the best view of O. versicolor is on a cool overcast day, when the petals are closed and the candy-cane red margins are in full display. Hard to resist.

Not far behind these choices would be Oxalis annae, cathara, glabra and stellata.

Why isn't everyone growing Oxalis?

Also, be sure to see Christiaan's great new additions to the Wiki, with photos of these and his excellent comments on each species.

Ron Vanderhoff
Sunny Southern California, where we're hoping for rain!

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