Growing Candy Cane Oxalis (Oxalis versicolor)


One of the reasons I find new plants to put in my garden is to brighten the space. I have found that the candy cane oxalis is one that does just that and brings a sense of the holidays to my garden in the summer. The blooms are trumpet-shaped, and they have red and white stripes like a candy cane. Each flower has five petals that attach at the base to create a clover, and at night, the flowers close up into a spiral.

This plant grows in hardiness zones seven to nine, where it is not very cold. This way, it grows as an annual that can be seen all year long. It will grow to be 6 to 12 inches tall when the plant is mature. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you care for these candy canes properly.

Light and Temperature Requirements

When it comes to sunlight, the candy cane oxalis will grow best in full sun conditions or an area that gets partial shade. Indirect sunlight is best so that it receives the light that it needs without having the chance of burning the leaves and the flowers.

It does well in relatively cool temperatures, so for it to thrive, try to keep daytime temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Night temperatures should not drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It also does not grow well with a lot of humidity, so people living in Florida and other humid places may have difficulty keeping the plant alive.

Water Requirements

Candy canes require an average amount of water to grow, so if it is planted outdoors, it will not need you to give it much water. In fact, you will want to avoid overwatering it because the roots do not like to sit in water. The plant will need more water from you during the growing season, but when it’s in its dormant stage, cutting back on the amount of water you give it is recommended.

Soil and Fertilizer Requirements

When it comes to soil types, this is a plant that will grow in nearly any soil. Clay, sandy, or loamy soil are a great option to consider that drains well so that the roots don’t sit in water while the plant grows. Acidic soil also tends to be a good option, but a specific pH level is not required.

This plant does not need much fertilizer to grow, but it is recommended to give it a gentle formula once a year during the growing season. This will help create fuller blooms and help the plant thrive during this time. In the winter, the soil should be covered with mulch to keep the roots warm so that the plant survives the winter.


This is a plant that will need to be pruned from time to time to keep its shape and design. In addition, you will want to cut off the dead flowers and stems to make room for new flowers to grow. This is called deadheading, and it’s a very common way of encouraging plants to bloom more before they go dormant for the winter.

Growing from a Seed

The best way to propagate the candy cane oxalis is to plant the seeds from an existing plant. Before the seeds are placed in the ground, they will need to be wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a bag to spend about a month in the refrigerator where the temperature will have to be less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a method of sowing seeds that makes the seeds believe that they were planted during winter. It helps the seeds come out of dormancy and prepare them for growth.

Once this period is over, the seeds’ germination will take about three to five weeks. During this time, the seeds will be planted in moist, relatively humid soil and located in a shady place. The seeds should be planted outdoors when the temperature stays above 41 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Pests and Diseases

This candy cane oxalis does not have many issues when it comes to pests and diseases, but you will need to consider a few that could hinder the growth of this plant. Powdery mildew, a white fungus that can be found on the leaves, is common with this plant. Root rot can occur when the roots sit in water. When it comes to pests, you won’t find many because the plant is toxic, but slugs still tend to be a nuisance that you will need to deal with.