Oxalis: wood sorrel

Height 5-10cm (2-4in)

Planting distance 15-30cm (6-12in)

Flowers in spring, summer or autumn

Well-drained, humus-rich soil

Sun or light shade

Bulbs available in early autumn

Many members of the wood sorrel genus are invasive weeds, but a few of these hardy, low-growing plants make graceful additions to a rock garden or as low edgings to borders. All have neat clumps of handsome foliage comprised of several leaflets; the funnel-shaped flowers, with five petals, open wide in full sun.

Popular species

English: Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) A clo...

Image via Wikipedia

Oxalis acetosella is the well-known native wood sorrel, not a true bulbous species but it spreads to 30cm (12in) from a creeping rhi-zome. It has neat tufts of pale green, shamrock-like leaves, and pearl-white flowers faintly veined with pink, in early to late spring. It grows only 5cm (2in) high and is suited to a shady and moist woodland setting where it will naturalize freely. The variety ‘Purpurescens’ is deep rose-pink. Oxalis adenophylla grows 7.5-10cm (3-4in) high from a bulbous rhizome and produces compact rosettes of crinkly grey foliage. The long-stemmed lilac-pink flowers are borne above the leaves from late spring to mid summer.

Oxalis enneaphylla is tuberous-rooted, hardy and only 7.5cm (3in) high. It has distinctive folded grey leaves and, in early and mid summer, large white, scented flowers. A pale rose-pink variety, ‘Rosea’, is sometimes available. Oxalis laciniata also has grey-green leaves, but with wavy margins. It grows to 10cm (4in) high, with thin stems rising from fleshy rhizomes. The solitary, fragrant flowers vary in colour from deep lavender-blue to pale purple, often with darker veins. They appear from late spring to late summer.

The plants die back after flowering. Oxalis lobata is near-hardy and needs protection from frost with a winter mulch. It grows 10cm (4in) high, bears bright green leaves and, in early autumn, yellow flowers.


Plant in early autumn, 5cm (2in) deep in well-drained soil containing plenty of organic material, and in full sun or light shade. Most types die back after flowering – mark their sites to avoid damaging the rootstocks during cultivation.


Lift, divide and replant bulbs and rhizomes in late summer, before the leaves die.

Pests and diseases

Trouble free.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Oxalis: wood sorrel


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