Plant Collector – Oxalis massoniana

Oxalis massoniana

Oxalis massoniana

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.

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4 thoughts on “Plant Collector – Oxalis massoniana

  1. James

    I purchased this plant today after reading this article! That orange is so vibrant. I’ll be using it in a hot border.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Great. I am surprised you found it for sale so readily – but then realised you are in Australia. Maybe you have a wider selection than is available in NZ these days.

      1. James

        I found it in a hard-to-come-by plant nursery, more by accident than anything. When I saw it your article sprang to mind and I thought I’d give it a go. The flowers are a riot. The nursery in question had more than a dozen species but the owner said they’re not allowed to import other species anymore, even the well behaved ones.

  2. Abbie Jury Post author

    There will be more than a dozen different ones in Australia. I think we have closer to 30 here in our own garden (and there will be more than that in the country here) so I would expect them to be available in Oz too. Mind you, they are not all of equal quality as garden plants.

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