It’s probably a little bit uncommon for a man in his thirties, but I love the holidays in both Fall and Winter. The Winter holidays in particular are my favorite. I love the coziness of hunkering down during cold weather, drinking hot drinks, making delicious food for the people I love, and of course, all of the holiday imagery. But during the summer, we don’t really get a lot of that holiday cheer. But there’s good news: a flower called the candy cane oxalis closely resembles a peppermint candy cane and will get you in the mood for the holidays, perhaps a bit too early.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how to plant, grow, and propagate this delightful red and white perennial flower. Pretty soon, you’ll be growing these candy cane flowers like a professional!
Growing candy cane oxalis
The candy cane oxalis is a truly delightful flower to add to your garden, but if you really want to be a successful grower, you need to understand some of the basics of the plant first.
- Latin name: Oxalis versicolor
- Other names: Candy Cane Sorrel and Peppermint Rock Oxalis
- Native to: South Africa
- Invasiveness: Not invasive
- Tenderness: Perennial
- Sun: Full sun
- Water: Average
- Soil: Well drained, clay soil
- Hardiness zone: 7-9
- When to plant: Any time
- Spacing: 2-3 inches
- Plant height: 12 inches
- Bloom period: Late summer
- Container friendly: Yes
- Fertilizer: 10-10-10
- Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets
- Deer resistant: Yes
- Pest resistant: Yes
Candy cane oxalis is a hardy perennial flower native to South Africa. It may also go by the names candy cane sorrel and peppermint rock oxalis. The flower is considered non-invasive outside of its native range, but as with all non-native plants, plant with extreme care.
It has a strong preference for full sun, moderate watering, and well-drained, clay soil. It can survive outdoors in warmer climates, USDA hardiness zones 7 through 9. If planting in a cooler zone, plant in a container that can be brought indoors during the winter. The bulbs can be planted any time of year that the ground isn’t frozen.
Candy cane oxalis grows to about 12 inches tall and produces gorgeous, red and white striped flowers that resemble a peppermint candy cane beginning in late summer. It does well with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer and is known to be resistant to deer and pests. This flower is toxic to humans, cats, and dogs, but it has such a bitter flavor that anyone who would try to take a bite out of it would likely be quickly deterred. If you are concerned about pets or children getting into it, plant it in a container and place it out of reach.
Candy cane oxalis isn’t all that picky when it comes to water. Whatever you give it will probably be fine, as long as you aren’t overdoing it. It doesn’t need a lot, but moderate amounts of water will likely yield the best growth and flowers. Don’t overdo the watering. Once or twice per week should be sufficient. Observe your flowers for signs of wilting, as that is an indication that you should increase the amount of water being provided each week.
Candy cane oxalis can tolerate some shade, but really not very much. This is a full sun flower that will do best if given at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. Any less sunlight than that will result in a plant that struggles to grow properly and produce flowers, and the flowers are the whole reason we’re planting it!
Candy cane oxalis won’t complain about the soil you plant it in for the most part, whether you’re planting it in unamended dirt or the finest of potting soil. In a perfect world, it should be given a well-draining clay soil in which to grow.
When it comes to fertilizing, the candy cane oxalis doesn’t really need a lot, or anything all that fancy. You can apply a simple 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer once or maybe twice each year. This is especially helpful if your flowers grow in a pot where the soil’s nutrients become depleted over time.
Candy cane oxalis is not considered to be invasive outside of its native range and especially in cooler climates. The plant is native to South Africa but requires a fairly deliberate attempt at propagation in order to spread. If it does spread, it’s pretty easy to stop. Simply dig up and remove the plants in areas that you don’t want them to grow. These plants spread best by seeds, so removing dead flowers before the seeds are able to fully mature is another way to mitigate the spread of this delightful red and white flower.
Growing candy cane oxalis in containers
Candy cane oxalis can be grown in containers pretty much without issue. This is the ideal plan if you live in a climate cooler than USDA hardiness zone 7. The container can be brought in during the winter months and taken back outside during summer. Keep in mind you will want to provide a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer at least once per year if you are growing your flowers in a pot.
Propagating candy cane oxalis
The most effective way to propagate candy cane oxalis and start new plants is through its seeds. At the end of the bloom season, your flowers will develop a seed pod filled with seeds. These seeds can be planted in a basic seed compost or seed starter potting soil. Plant the seeds barely under the surface of the soil, around 1 mm deep. Provide water and a sunny spot and wait. The seeds will germinate after about two weeks.
Uses for candy cane oxalis
This flower, while quite beautiful, has no known uses outside of its aesthetic beauty. The plant is considered toxic to both people and pets and bears a very bitter flavor. It is not edible and has no known medicinal uses. Plant it only for its looks and nothing else!