Envy the gardener who has not had to battle invasive oxalis. Most of us know only too well how difficult it is to eradicate the weedy ones. But there are only a few villains in a very large family and unfortunately, most people shun the lot because of those few. We wouldn’t be without the decorative oxalis and O. massoniana is just one putting on a splendid display at this time.
I think we must have around 30 different oxalis in pots and in the garden here and they are just a drop in the bucket of the many hundreds of different species. Flower colour ranges from white, through the gamut of pinks, lilacs and lavenders, crimson red, yellows and oranges. The foliage is also varied from the clover type leaves to fine and feathery, trailing and even miniature palm leaves. We must have them flowering for six to eight months of the year. I should comment that some have a flowering season lasting a long time, while others are a bit of a flash in the pan.
Some oxalis are garden safe but if in doubt, keep them in pots where they are wonderfully forgiving of benign neglect. The flowers only open in the sun so the pots make a lovely seasonal feature on a sunny doorstep. I have tried massoniana in the garden but it seems to be happier and showier in a big, shallow container.
The apricot and soft yellow two-tone colouring is very pretty and the flowering season lasts a good length of time. As with most of the autumn and early winter flowering oxalis, it is native to the bulb wonderland of South Africa. If you can’t bear the thought of growing oxalis, just call it by its more romantic sounding common name overseas – wood sorrel.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.