Oxalis triangularis is one of the easiest houseplants to care for. Also known as false shamrock or purple shamrock, it is mostly loved for its eye-catching purple leaves. The unique beauty of this plant can really perk up a boring landscape or indoor space!
Oxalis triangularis plants are hardy perennials and can thrive without complaint even in harsh outdoor environments. However, this does not mean they are immune to certain common plant problems. If you notice your Oxalis triangularis drooping, do not lose heart! Read on to find out how to troubleshoot your plant’s problem and bring it back to life.
Why is my Oxalis triangularis drooping?
There are several possible reasons your Oxalis triangularis might suddenly have drooping or wilting leaves. Assess your plant’s symptoms and check if they fit with any of these common issues:
1. Natural dormancy
You might start to worry if your Oxalis suddenly appears sad and lifeless as winter approaches. But do not worry – this is probably normal!
Like most plants, Oxalis triangularis goes through a period of dormancy. This is the time when plants stop growing to conserve their energy and survive the winter temperatures. Similar to animals that hibernate, Oxalis plants slow down their metabolic activities as they undergo a series of physiological changes.
So, you might notice some wilting or dying leaves and stems on your Oxalis triangularis – but fear not! Your beloved houseplant is not giving up on life. It is simply shedding some foliage in anticipation of the prolonged rest it is about to take. When the growing season returns, it should grow back its beautiful, bushy leaves.
As your Oxalis is entering the dormancy period, the best thing you can do is leave it alone. You can also trim some of its dying leaves and stems while keeping the roots intact beneath the soil. Make sure that your plant can rest in a cool, secure location for the duration of the cold months. Avoid watering it, as this can lead to fungal growth and root rot.
2. Watering issues
So, it is not winter and the sun is shining brightly, but still your Oxalis appears to be in distress. In this case, you need to check your watering routine as the plant might be struggling with watering issues.
Do you regularly forget to water your plants? Underwatering might be the culprit behind your Oxalis’ drooping leaves. Signs like the browning of the leaf tips, dry and crispy foliage, and bone-dry soil can all confirm that your Oxalis is suffering from drought stress. But do not fret – underwatering can usually be fixed quite easily! Just give your plant a good shower until you can see the excess water draining from the pot. Your Oxalis should make a recovery in no time!
The opposite extreme is overwatering, which can also cause problems. We all love to pamper our houseplants, but keeping their soil overly wet all the time will do more harm than good. Using poorly-draining pots and soil can also lead to overwatering, even though you are not actually watering your plants excessively. One sure sign that your Oxalis is drowning in waterlogged soil is when the leaves and stems turn soft and mushy.
The greatest danger of overwatering is that it often causes root rot and fungal growth, which is more complex to treat than simply adjusting your watering schedule. If the damage is extensive, you might need to repot the plant in fresh soil. However, even this will not guarantee that your plant will recover; you need to pray hard or just start all over again!
3. Poor lighting conditions
Although Oxalis does best indoors, that does not mean you can subject it to poor lighting conditions. Like any other plant, it needs sunlight in order to keep its leaves healthy and lush. The light source must be filtered and not too bright – such as morning sunlight. You can try placing your plant near an east-facing window to give it a good amount of light without scorching its leaves.
Can you put your Oxalis outside under full, bright sunlight? The answer is no – please do not do this! The sudden, intense light can be too stressful for your plant and might actually damage its foliage and leave it wilted. If you must move your plant outdoors, make sure to do so gradually, so that it can acclimatize to the outdoor lighting.
4. Transplant shock
Transplant stress is almost inevitable when you transfer your plants to new pots or new locations, and Oxalis triangularis is no exception. Its roots must adjust to the new soil, or the whole plant must adjust to its new environment, and a degree of droopiness can be expected during this transition. Several other factors, like a lack of moisture, injuries to the root ball or stems while transplanting, and planting too deep, can also contribute to the plant’s drooping appearance.
At this point, there is almost nothing you can do for your distressed Oxalis but wait and keep your fingers crossed. Just provide the plant with the ideal growing conditions and it should bounce back fairly soon – within about a week or two. Do not forget to check the soil regularly and give your plant sufficient water to keep it hydrated.
5. Plant diseases
If your Oxalis is drooping and also has tiny spots on its leaves that look rust-brown or brownish-yellow, it could be struggling with rust fungus. Although plant diseases are not so common in Oxalis plants, this can be spread from other infected plants.
Sadly, treating this fungal disease can be quite challenging. But do not lose hope – you might still save your Oxalis by following these tips:
- Separate the affected Oxalis from your other plants to prevent any spread of infection.
- Using sterilized pruning shears, trim off the affected leaves. Wipe your cutting tool with alcohol every time you cut to prevent spreading the pathogens.
- Apply fungicide to the affected leaves, following the dosage on the packaging.
- Give your Oxalis the best possible care. Check its progress regularly and continue the treatment as needed. If your plant is not showing signs of recovery, it may be best to discard the dying plant and start over with a new one.
6. Poor potting soil
Soil is an important factor for plant growth. If your Oxalis develops a droopy appearance despite proper watering and care, it might be time to inspect the potting soil.
First, check the quality of the soil. Does it look compact or sandy? When the soil is dense or compact, the plant can suffer from poor water and nutrient uptake. It can also increase the chances of the roots drowning after watering, since compact soil tends to hold onto water for too long. Sandy soil can also be bad for your plant, for the opposite reason – it tends to dry out too quickly. For healthy growth, your Oxalis needs a well-draining, moist potting soil.
The soil’s pH level and nutrients can also have a great impact on your plant’s growth. Ideally, Oxalis should be planted in soil with a pH between 6.1 and 6.5. Additionally, applying the right amount of fertilizer at the right intervals is beneficial for bushier leaves. Just remember not to overfertilize your plants, or you risk irreversible damage to the root system.
7. Pest infestation
Pests are a nuisance, but unfortunately they are everywhere. If you do not keep an eye on your houseplants, you might only discover these little bugs when the damage is already extensive.
Some common pests you should watch out for are spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, vine weevils, and thrips. Many of these hide on the undersides of the leaves, while others can dig into the soil and reproduce there.
Preventative measures are always the best approach. But, if you notice your plant is already infested, make sure to apply pesticide as soon as possible to get rid of them right away. Also isolate the infested Oxalis to avoid spreading the pests to your other plants.
8. Dusty leaves
Dusty leaves can be problematic for your plants, too. When the surface of the leaves is coated with too much dust, it can block their tiny pores. This disrupts the transpiration process and prevents your plant from absorbing light from the sun.
So, if your Oxalis looks depressed, check its leaves – perhaps they just need a wipe-down to bring them back to life. Try to remember to clean the leaves regularly to prevent dust and other small particles from accumulating on the leaf surface.
How do you revive a drooping Oxalis
Oxalis triangularis is fairly tolerant and not overly fussy when it comes to its care requirements. Thus, reviving a drooping Oxalis should be quite easy, depending on the root cause of the issue.
As mentioned previously, dormancy is the most common reason your purple shamrock is drooping. In this case, you can either wait for the plant to come out of dormancy, or force it out of dormancy.
The first option involves allowing the old leaves to turn brown and the soil to dry. You only need to gradually start watering the plant once you start to see new growth.
The second option involves trimming off the dead leaves and placing your plant in an area with above-freezing temperatures. Leave it in that spot for up to six weeks without water.
For the other issues, here are some tips to revive your plant:
- Correct your watering habits. The rule of thumb is to water only when the topsoil looks dry. You can also use a moisture meter to help you check the soil’s dryness.
- Keep your plants healthy by establishing preventative measures. This might include applying neem oil or spraying a mild detergent solution on the foliage once a month. This will help prevent plant diseases and opportunistic pests from taking over your Oxalis plants.
- Give your Oxalis the best possible care. That includes providing enough sunlight, using well-draining soil, and applying the right dose of fertilizer.
Dormancy is the leading cause of drooping in Oxalis triangularis plants. As with other houseplants, this condition is quite normal when the cold season approaches. Other issues like overwatering, underwatering, pests, diseases, lack of sunlight, and poor soil quality might also play a role. So, try to determine the underlying cause, and hopefully you can apply the solutions mentioned in this guide to bring back your plant’s vigor.
Image: istockphoto.com / Bilal photos