Do you soak oxalis bulbs before planting?

Oxalis, commonly known as shamrock plants or wood sorrel, is a charming addition to any garden with its delicate flowers and clover-like leaves. A question often posed by gardeners is whether soaking oxalis bulbs before planting is necessary or beneficial. This article explores the best practices for planting oxalis bulbs, emphasizing the role of pre-planting preparation.

Understanding Oxalis Bulbs

Oxalis bulbs, technically corms, are the underground storage organs of the plant. They house energy and nutrients necessary for the plant’s initial growth. Understanding the nature of these bulbs is crucial for determining the appropriate planting method.

The Debate on Soaking Bulbs

Soaking bulbs before planting is a common practice for some bulbous plants. The idea is to rehydrate the bulbs, waking them from dormancy and giving them a head start. However, this practice varies depending on the type of bulb and its condition.

Research and Expert Opinions

Research into bulb planting generally suggests that soaking is not essential for all bulb types. For oxalis, specifically, expert opinions are divided. Some gardeners advocate for a brief soak to encourage faster sprouting, while others caution against it due to the risk of rot or fungal infections.

Factors to Consider

  1. Bulb Condition: Dry or shriveled bulbs may benefit from a short soak to rehydrate them. However, if the oxalis bulbs are plump and appear healthy, soaking might be unnecessary.
  2. Soil Preparation: Well-prepared, loose, and well-draining soil can reduce the need for soaking. Good soil ensures adequate moisture and air circulation around the bulb.
  3. Climate and Season: In areas with dry climates or when planting in a less rainy season, a brief soak could give the bulbs a needed moisture boost. Conversely, in damp conditions, additional water from soaking may be excessive.
  4. Duration of Soaking: If you choose to soak, the duration should be short—generally a few hours. Prolonged soaking increases the risk of bulb decay.
  5. Water Quality: Use clean, room-temperature water for soaking to avoid shocking the bulbs or introducing pathogens.
purple shamrock

Planting Tips for Oxalis Bulbs

  1. Timing: Plant oxalis bulbs in early spring or fall. The mild temperatures assist in root development without the stress of extreme heat or cold.
  2. Depth and Spacing: Plant the bulbs about 1 to 2 inches deep and space them approximately 3 to 4 inches apart. This spacing allows for adequate growth and air circulation.
  3. Soil Conditions: Oxalis prefers well-draining soil with a good mix of organic matter. Ensure the planting site does not collect water to prevent bulb rot.
  4. Initial Watering: After planting, water the bulbs lightly. This moisture is vital to initiate root and shoot growth.
  5. Care Post-Planting: Once the oxalis plants have sprouted, ensure they receive consistent moisture and partial to full sunlight, depending on the variety.


In conclusion, whether to soak oxalis bulbs before planting is a decision that depends on several factors, including bulb condition, soil preparation, and environmental conditions. While a brief soak might benefit drier bulbs, it is not a universal requirement for successful growth. Proper planting depth, soil conditions, and post-planting care are more critical factors in ensuring the health and beauty of oxalis plants in your garden. As always, observing the response of your plants and adjusting care accordingly is the hallmark of a thoughtful and successful gardener.

MORE POSTS: How to grow sword ferns from spores?

Scroll to Top