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How to add splash of purple to dry shade garden

Garden Gems: If you love purple and water savings, you’re in luck with this false shamrock.
Garden Gems: If you love purple and water savings, you’re in luck with this false shamrock.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Purple leaf false shamrock

Oxalis triangularis ssp.papillionacea ‘Atropurpurea’

Size: Grows 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide.

Bloom season: Pale pink flowers in late summer.

Exposure: Shade or morning sun.

Pruning needs: None.

Water needs: Medium to low water; will go drought deciduous without irrigation, but then bounce back with water. Once established, irrigate deeply once a week or every other week.

Snapshot: There’s nothing false about this lovely water-wise perennial; it’s a true favorite for dry shade. It gets its nickname because it looks like a three-lobed shamrock (a member of the clover family), but is no relation. Native to Brazil, this low-growing herbaceous perennial forms a rounded clump of dark amethyst purple leaves in summer. In August, a halo of baby pink flowers sprouts above the leaves. False shamrock is a great way to add this unusual foliage color to the shade garden.

For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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