Iron Cross Oxalis

My obsession with oxalis is not undocumented on this site. I’ve got an entire tag dedicated to it. What I haven’t said here is that I’m really not into the large-leaved shamrock-style oxalis you see in stores around St. Patrick’s Day.

Just not my thing.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to me just how much I have come to adore this ‘Iron Cross’ Oxalis (Oxalis deppei). Although, it’s not exactly a big-leaved type, I’d describe the size as moderate…. somewhere between the big leaved types and the diminutive ones I’ve come to favour.

I bought the bulbs just a few weeks ago at Plant World, a large garden center just outside the margins of what I consider Toronto proper. As a non-driver I can tell you that getting there without a car is possible, but not exactly fun times. Summer bulbs had been reduced down to 50% off so I impulse purchased a few things that caught my fancy and still looked viable.

When buying sale bulbs, always look at and feel the bulbs to be sure they are plump and not desiccated. Sale bulbs aren’t worth the deal if they’re dead. These oxalis bulbs had a few little roots so I knew they were itching to grow. I potted them up in some well-draining cactus soil and wouldn’t you know they were up and blooming in a quick minute. Nice colours, don’t you think?

Most of the oxalis I grow love water and hate too much light, but this particular variety prefers the opposite. While my other oxalis plants tell me when they are receiving too much sun by closing their leaves, this one closes ranks in the shade and opens them up wide in the sunshine. I’m glad I paid attention to the barebones info on the tag and didn’t go with my previous oxalis experience. Containers can be moved, but I also planted a few in the ground as an experiment. Luckily I chose a spot that is bright but receives late afternoon shade.

Like many other oxalis the flowers and leaves of this one are edible in small portions. We have enough tart edibles growing in our garden this year, but I might throw a few flowers into a salad sometime for the hell of it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “Iron Cross Oxalis

  1. I love this particular oxalis. My original bulbs came from a lady who belonged to the same garden club. I remember her saying: “You know, you have to dig these up and save them over the winter. Most people can’t be bothered!” Well, I persevered and have enjoyed them every summer since. I stick them everywhere and they flourish. Last year I found an oxalis called ‘Charmed Wine’ and it pairs nicely with ‘Iron Cross’.

  2. That is pretty, but I am overwhelmed with a burgundy and a lime green oxalis here, it gets worse every year–come on down and bring your trowel!

  3. Is there any chance the Iron-Cross Oxalis would come back in the Midwest after over-wintering? I know I’m supposed to dig them up, but I’d really rather not have to.

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