Garden Talk: Advice For Novice Gardeners

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Tune in to this edition of Garden Talk for great advice for people brand-new to gardening. Soil enrichment, the importance of water and nutrients and more will be covered.

Featured in this Show

  • Shamrock Plants A Welcome Bit O’ Green

    Monday is St. Patrick’s Day, and after a long winter, a little bit of green is welcome. In flower shops and grocery stores, there are often small “shamrock” plants available.

    Patti Nagai is a UW Extension Horticulture Educator for Racine County. She said that those are Oxalis plants: “It makes a really fun little interior plant. It has beautiful little green trifoliate leaves … three little leaflets on the one leaf, and little white flowers. It’s so dainty and delicate. It makes a great little gift plant.”

    With care, they can last well past the holiday. Nagai said that they benefit from regular moisture, and they don’t like to dry out completely. They also do need bright light, but not direct sun. “They do perfectly fine in a bright room,” she said. “They can be used as a really pretty centerpiece, like on your kitchen table. They’re just a fun little plant.”

    Like any plant in a container, whether a houseplant or those outdoors, the Oxalis will need some fertilizer. Nagai said it doesn’t have to be a lot, but regular feedings with an all-purpose houseplant formula will keep it healthy and happy. Over-fertilization can lead to lush foliage, but not many flowers.

    In addition to the bright green variety, Nagai said that there is a reddish-purple variety, too. “In fact, you may have seen it as a weed in your yard,” she said. “There is a form of that red-leafed Oxalis that, if it escapes into your lawn, especially the shady parts of your grass, it can be quite a lovely little weed.”

    Nagai doesn’t think that the commonly sold green variety is hardy enough to be transplanted outdoors. She also pointed out that even if it were possible, it might not be advisable. “They’re pretty heavy seed producers,” she said, “so I’m not sure you would want it in your yard.”

    Pet owners should use caution before introducing any plants into the household. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, the Oxalis, or shamrock, can be mildly to moderately toxic to dogs and cats, but that the bitter taste of the leaves generally deters them from eating it.

Episode Credits

  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Patti Nagai Guest

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