Oxalis in bloom

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Fri, 02 Oct 2009 08:14:03 PDT
I still remember Diana Chapman writing about the dazzling display of 
Oxalis she was growing many years ago and I'm having one of my own at 
the moment with some of the fall bloomers. A very long time ago we 
had a discussion about when to start winter growing plants into 
growth. Although California has a Mediterranean climate, our rainy 
season doesn't start as early as it does in some of the other 
Mediterranean climates. And often in my coastal climate autumn is 
warm and sunny. So the question was, do you start watering before it 
starts to rain. The answers as with many questions on this list were 
variable. I'd always read about California natives that if they were 
watered when it was warm, they could rot. Lauw suggested that if you 
waited too long to start watering some things, they wouldn't bloom so 
you should start watering earlier. Some things just start into growth 
at their time regardless and others really do seem to need moisture. 
What I have found with Oxalis from South Africa is that I have much 
better luck if I start watering them in August even if this means the 
fall blooming ones are blooming in some of our warmer days of the 
year. For many years I had no flowers on my Oxalis melanosticta 'Ken 
Aslet'. It was reported that there were some clones that didn't bloom 
well and I thought I had one of them. Still I continued to grow it 
since it has lovely hairy velvety leaves. Most years I shared my 
extras with the BX advising it might not bloom well, but had nice 
leaves. The last three years I've had good bloom. I'm now growing it 
in a pot that is 9"  (22+ cm.) deep and starting to water in August. 
This year has been the best as it has been flowering for weeks. I 
just replaced one of my pictures of it on the wiki with one that 
shows the nice hairy leaves.

In my climate either the deeper pot or the earlier time of starting 
it into growth or both I suspect is the difference.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers 

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