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How to Grow Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day

Growing Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day isn't all it's cracked up to be!

Growing Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day isn't all it's cracked up to be!

Growing Shamrocks Isn't All It's Cracked up to Be!

Shamrocks, sometimes also referred to as "clover", aren't always easy to grow in the home. A quick scan of Amazon's product reviews for shamrock seeds will show that many people become frustrated when their seeds won't grow the way they expect them to, even when they follow the instructions on the packaging.

Surely growing house plants should be a pleasure and not a hassle! The purpose of this guide is to help you to grow your shamrocks and to get the best results, including info on which shamrocks you should purchase in order to give the highest likelihood that your plants will actually "take" and grow the way that you want them to.

Be prepared for a little bit of a struggle, depending on the type of shamrock you choose to plant. Alternatively, this page provides you with opportunities to purchase shamrock plants so that you won't have to fight as hard with making your shamrocks grow!

Shamrocks grow naturally in the wild.

Shamrocks grow naturally in the wild.

Starting From Seed or Bulb vs Buying a Plant

While I will do my best in this guide to help you to cultivate your shamrocks from planting (seed or bulb) to growth, I cannot make any guarantees. Shamrocks can be particularly difficult, and most species aren't suited to indoor growth. If you're looking to put seeds or bulbs into a pot and grow them, I'll tell you how to do that, but you'll find it a good deal more difficult.

For the easiest and best results, purchase a plant like the one below and follow the instructions further down this page for how to take care of your shamrock plant once it's growing.

Shamrocks can come in four-leafed versions. Who knew?!

Shamrocks can come in four-leafed versions. Who knew?!

What Is a Shamrock?

Shamrocks are a type of wood sorrel, belonging to the Oxalis genus. Oxalis is the largest genus in this family, with over 300 different species of plants.

When differentiating between clovers and shamrocks, some people have attempted to say that shamrocks always have three leaves, while clovers may have four. This isn't necessarily the truth, as some species of wood sorrel have four leaves. The three-leaved version was used by St. Patrick of Ireland to illustrate the holy trinity to the Celtic pagans of Ireland.

Planting Shamrocks From Seed or From Tubers: Which Is Better?

Tubers are generally hardier and are easier to grow. However, the key here is that you're going to produce two different plants depending on whether you choose to grow from seeds or from tubers. The seeds you'll be planting will produce shamrocks similar to the clover that you'll see in your yard during the summer months—the clover you'll most likely be removing!

What you despise in your yard, however, might be something you love in your home, a little bit of Irish brought indoors. If you opt for tubers, you will be producing a plant with triangular leaves and yellow or white flowers.

If you want to grow shamrock seeds, do not be discouraged! There are products with a very high rating and solid instructions for growth.

Shamrocks are a wild plant, also known as "clover."

Shamrocks are a wild plant, also known as "clover."

How to Plant Shamrock Seeds

This is where you're likely to make or break your shamrock experience. Do follow all of the instructions on your seed packet carefully, but also make sure to do some additional research into how to plant shamrock seeds, as some instructions suggest soaking the soil, and this will kill your seeds! If you follow the instructions below, your shamrock seeds should germinate.

Growing Shamrock From Seeds

  1. Cool your seed packets in the refrigerator at least overnight, but preferably for 24 hours.
  2. Fill a pot (one with drainage holes is preferred!) with high-quality potting soil and dampen the soil. This is perhaps best accomplished by allowing a pot with drainage holes to wick moisture from a bowl of lukewarm water.
  3. Sprinkle seeds onto the surface of the soil and then press them gently into the soil. You don't want to cover them completely with soil.
  4. Place the pot in a warm place with indirect sunlight.

Note: Do not place your pot in direct sunlight!

Seeds should germinate and sprout within two weeks of planting but may take up to two months depending on the time of year and the climate.

Shamrock Watering Care

Don't over-water your shamrocks! They want to be moist, not wet. Misting should do the trick, but check to make sure that the soil is consistently damp.

Caring for Your Clover Plant Indoors

Once your clover has germinated and sprouted, their care is relatively simple. You want to do what you can to imitate the climate in Ireland, where this particular clover is most common. This means you'll want to start by providing them a spot to grow in where the temperature is warm (but not hot!) and where they receive indirect sunlight. Too bright and you'll kill your shamrocks!

Additionally, you'll want to mist, rather than watering, your shamrocks, as this will simulate the rain that they would get in the wilds of Ireland.

The above plants are the traditional Irish clover/shamrock.

The above plants are the traditional Irish clover/shamrock.

Growing Shamrocks From Bulbs

The easiest way to grow a shamrock plant is to purchase a plant that has already been developed. These plants come from bulbs and are available online or at Garden Shows. The rhizomes may be purchased online and can be planted (a few inches deep in the pot and planted either horizontally or vertically to the root. This should be done in the late winter.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Becki Rizzuti


Shanna on April 01, 2019:

Hi There, The link to the recommended product doesn't seem to be working. would you be able to post it here?



Frank L. on August 19, 2018:

In 2017 my wife bought me an Irish clover for St. Patrick's Day. It looked great for about 6 months but I thought it was dying. From over watering, too much fertilizer, etc. I was wrong. The plant was going into "sleeping mode". I didn't know this so I transplanted it to a slightly bigger pot with a good house plant soil hoping it was still alive and hoped for the best. A few weeks later it started to grow back and started new shoots. No worry's they will come back. Now I use a an all purpose fertilizer every other week and YES water it with club soda! My plants are beautiful and I have to separate them when they get too big and give them to neighbors.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indianapolis, Indiana on March 17, 2014:

I thought it was funny :-/

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on March 17, 2014:

So far the joke is 1 and 1. One person got it, one didn't.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indianapolis, Indiana on March 17, 2014:

Clearly Demas was making a joke (:

Bubba long on March 16, 2014:

A sham rock is a plant, stoopid!

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indianapolis, Indiana on February 22, 2014:

lol! Took me a minute to get the joke, then I read the whole phrase and I got it!

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on February 22, 2014:

As luck would have it, I once found a 13-leafed clover in South Harpswell, Maine! So much for the four-leaf clovers. I have no current interest in growing Shamrocks, as anything pretending to be a rock is beneath cultivating. ; - o )

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indianapolis, Indiana on February 22, 2014:

It may be the climate: hot and dry vs. cool and damp. Have you tried a hardier variety of Shamrock plant? The rhizomes tend to stay alive for longer and of course most people think they're dead when they're just dormant.

mactavers on February 22, 2014:

In Arizona, they need to be grown indoors and even then, I have not had much luck in keeping my Shamrock plants alive. Love your Hub and pictures