This unique little succulent from South Africa is known for its elegant palm-shaped leaves. Unlike most houseplants, the Palm Leaf Oxalis (also known as Palmifrons Oxalis) is most active in winter and dormant in the summer. That means you benefit from beautiful blooms even in the coldest of months!
But in order to get those recurring blooms, you’ll have to make sure your plant is happy. The Palm Leaf Oxalis needs these three conditions to thrive: direct sunlight, loose sandy soil, and bottom watering to protect its roots.
If you want to learn how to care for the Palm Leaf Oxalis plant, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide just for you!
Is Oxalis Easy to Care For?
As a succulent, the Palm Leaf Oxalis is a fairly low-key plant to care for. Keep in mind that this is a slow grower, so don’t be worried if you don’t notice much change from month to month. In fact, this succulent only grows about 2.4 inches a year. In its native South Africa, patches of Palm Leaf Oxalis only spread about 2 feet over 10 years! Despite its slow growth, this succulent can live quite a long time under the right conditions.
Does Oxalis Prefer Sun or Shade?
The natural habitat of the Palm Leaf Oxalis is the South African desert, where they grow low to the ground. They also like to spread out in order to get lots of sunlight.
For this succulent to thrive as an indoor plant, it requires similar conditions. Give it lots of direct sunlight by placing it near a windowsill or other bright area. If you’re growing Palm Leaf Oxalis outside in your garden, they will be fine out in the open with regular sunlight.
The only exception to this would be if your plant is very young and small. Plants that have not reached maturity should only be exposed to indirect sunlight to protect their delicate leaves.
Tip: In the winter, keep your Palm Leaf Oxalis away from cold and drafty windows. They are not cold hardy plants and will die when exposed to chilly temperatures. If you need to, you can give your plant a grow light for the winter months, then place it back on the window sill when it’s warmer outside!
Is Oxalis an Indoor or Outdoor Plant?
Palm Leaf Oxalis is both an indoor and outdoor plant. But in North America, this succulent will generally only survive as an indoor plant. This is because North American winters are too cold and the Palm Leaf Oxalis is extremely susceptible to frost damage.
To grow this succulent outdoors, you need to live in a USDA zone 7 to 11. The climate should be a minimum temperature of 60-70°F (15-21°C) all year around.
What Kind of Soil Does a Palm Leaf Oxalis Need?
The Palm Leaf Oxalis prefers sandy loose soil that is slightly acidic. Since this succulent is used to arid environments, its roots are designed to cling to every bit of water. So if the soil holds too much moisture, the plant will drown.
Sandy soil drains quickly and allows lots of air for the roots to breathe.
How Often Should I Water My Oxalis?
In general, succulents like the Palm Leaf Oxalis only need to be watered every other week. In the hot summer months, the soil of your plant will dry out much quicker than in the winter. In this case, you may need to increase the watering. As always with succulents, check the dryness of the soil before you water it.
It’s best to water your Palm Leaf Oxalis from the bottom of the pot. The roots of the Palm Leaf Oxalis are very delicate and susceptible to root rot. Bottom watering keeps the soil loose, and the roots from becoming too wet.
Here’s the best way to bottom water a succulent:
- Fill a shallow tray with water.
- Place the succulent pot in the tray for 5-15 minutes.
- Wait until the top layer of soil becomes moist.
- Leave the pots in a dry area to drain any excess water.
Does Oxalis Need Fertilizer?
You can fertilize your Palm Leaf Oxalis once a month when it’s active. This will help the plant grow bigger and have more vibrant colors! Avoid fertilizing when the plant is dormant in the summer, as the bulbs are resting.
You can find specific succulent fertilizers at any gardening store. If it’s warm enough, try moving your Palm Leaf Oxalis outside after you fertilize it. This extra boost of warmth and sunlight will keep the soil nice and dry and help the plant absorb the nutrients.
When Should I Repot My Oxalis?
The Palm Leaf Oxalis grows very slowly so it can take one or two years for it to outgrow its current pot. Repotting is a great way to give its roots more room and provide nutrients from fresh soil.
Always repot a plant at the start of its growing season. For most plants, this would be in the spring, but for the Palm Leaf Oxalis, its growing season is late fall.
When you pick out a new pot, remember to only go one size up or 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) bigger. Otherwise, the pot may hold too much water and the roots will get waterlogged. It’s best to wait one or two days after repotting to water your Palm Leaf Oxalis. It needs this time for the roots to adjust to the new soil.
How Do You Propagate Oxalis Palmifrons?
This succulent can be propagated in two ways: from seed or from offsets.
Seed propagation is the most difficult method and takes some time. When your Palm Leaf Oxalis is blooming, you can collect seeds from the flower. After you collect the seeds they need to dehydrate, then you can plant them in fresh soil. Be aware that if you have a younger plant, it may not produce blooms for years.
Propagating Palm Leaf Oxalis from offsets is much more efficient, but must be done carefully to avoid damaging the roots. Remove your Oxalis from its pot and you’ll see a tangle of roots and bulbs. Use a knife to carefully split away one or several of the bulbs. Then, plant the bulbs in fresh soil and ensure they’re completely covered. Simply water and then wait for new growth to emerge!
Why Are My Oxalis Leaves Drooping?
The most common cause of drooping leaves in any succulent is either underwatering or overwatering.
An underwatered succulent will usually have puckered, dehydrated-looking leaves. The lack of moisture causes leaves to be soft and lose their shape. An overwatered succulent will usually have mushy, yellowed leaves. The best way to know if you have too much moisture or not enough is by feeling the soil.
But moisture isn’t the only culprit for drooping leaves. If your Palm Leaf Oxalis isn’t getting enough sunlight, it will start to show signs of stress such as drooping. This plant likes direct sunlight, so place it in the brightest and warmest spot in your house.
How Do You Save an Overwatered Oxalis?
If you start to notice drooping or mushy leaves, you may have accidentally given your Oxalis too much to drink. As long as the roots aren’t rotted, it’s still possible for your plant to spring back.
Here’s how to save your overwatered succulent:
- Remove the Palm Leaf Oxalis from its pot.
- Gently pry away all the waterlogged soil from its roots.
- Leave the plant in a bright area for several days to dry out the roots.
- Replant it in a pot filled with sandy, well-draining soil.
- Wait a week until you water the plant again.
Usually, after a few weeks, you will see the leaves of the Oxalis regain their shape and color. From this point on, only water the plant when the soil is dry. Use the bottom watering method to keep the soil from becoming too moist.
The Palm Leaf Oxalis is an easy succulent to take care of, but it does have some unique quirks to watch out for.
As a desert plant, it’s important to give the Palm Leaf Oxalis lots of direct sunlight. It also likes the soil to be dry, sandy, and fast-draining so it doesn’t hold onto too much water. And when you water your Palm Leaf Oxalis, make sure it’s from the bottom of the pot to keep the soil loose to allow the delicate roots to breathe.