Candy Cane Flowers (Oxalis Versicolor) – Description & How to Grow It

candy cane flower

Often when we think about remarkable flowers, our minds gravitate towards the iconic roses, daisies, or even lilies. However, nature’s magnificence spreads far beyond these traditional picks, bestowing us with a plethora of exotic flowers that are beautifully peculiar. One such marvel is the Candy Cane Flower, a unique plant indigenous to South Africa, boasting striking red and white spiral patterns resembling the conventional ‘Christmas candy cane‘.

What Makes the Candy Cane Flower Stand Out?

The Candy Cane Flower, botanically referred to as Oxalis Versicolor, is a charming addition to your spring garden. The plant is commonly known for its:

  • Distinctive spiral pattern with stripes of caramel colour, red and white
  • Glossy, clover-like foliage
  • Summer blooming, with a height of about 30cm in partial sunlight

The Origin of the Candy Cane Sorrel Flower

South African Roots

The Candy Cane Flower hails from the diverse flora of South Africa, known for its unique tropical plants. This spectacular bloom is incredibly fascinating because of its resemblance to the holiday favorite candy cane, hence deriving its common name. The remarkable funnel-shaped flowers with five spreading petals provide a delightful show, especially during Christmas celebrations.

Striking Color Transformation

One of the awe-inspiring attributes of Candy Cane Flowers is their color changes. Its saturated red stripes subtly transition to a brilliant white, not dissimilar to a watercolour painting being gently washed away by a bristled brush sweep. This process is primarily observed when the sun graces the plant, whilst the cold weather tends to revert the red stripes back to its original, blazing state.

How To Grow a Candy Cane Flower

Growing the Candy Cane Flower, or Oxalis Versicolor, might seem like a challenging endeavor given its exotic origins. However, with a little understanding and care, this captivating plant can beautifully flourish in your garden. Here’s a detailed guide to help cultivate this unique, spiral-patterned beauty.

Step 1: Prepare your Soil

The initial step to grow the Candy Cane Flower is preparing the right type of soil. This plant thrives best in a well-draining soil, so consider these points:

  • Opt for a sandy or loamy soil type for optimal drainage
  • Ensure the soil pH is mildly acidic, between 6.0 to 6.5
  • Amend your soil with a bit of compost to provide sufficient nutrients

Step 2: Plant the Bulb

After preparing the soil, the next step is planting the bulb.

  • The bulb should be planted approximately 3-4 inches deep into the soil
  • Space out each bulb by around 3 inches to avoid any overcrowding

Step 3: Watering

While watering is critical, it’s equally important to moderate the extent to maintain good plant health.

  • Keep the soil slightly moist, but avoid overwatering to prevent potential root rot
  • Water the plant from the bottom to prevent the stems from becoming waterlogged

Step 4: Sunlight and Temperature Control

Candy Cane Flowers require specific light and temperature conditions for the best growth.

  • Place the plant in an area that receives bright but indirect sunlight
  • Maintain a cooler temperature range between 60ºF and 70ºF (15ºC to 21ºC) during the day, and between 55ºF and 65ºF (13ºC to 18ºC) at night

Step 5: Fertilization

Fertilization can keep your Candy Cane Flowers healthy and blooming for longer.

  • Use a balanced liquid plant fertilizer once a month during its growing season
  • Ensure to dilute the fertilizer to half its recommended strength to prevent damaging the plant

Step 6: Managing Plant Dormancy

It’s natural for the plant to enter a dormant phase during summer, so don’t fret when this happens!

  • Reduce watering gradually as the plant starts to wilt and enter dormancy
  • Let the plant rest during this dormant period but do not entirely stop watering
  • Resume watering and fertilization as the plant starts to show new growth

By following these steps, you’ll set up your Candy Cane Flower well for a healthy life in your garden. It’s a charming plant that’s sure to captivate your senses with its unique spiraling blooms. Happy planting!

Beyond Blooms: Caring for your Candy Cane Flower

Keeping your Candy Cane Flower in good health is simpler than you might think. Building a strong bulb health is the foundation, and a little periodic watering and fertilization keep your plant vibrant and in bloom. As the plant wilts, you’re free to cut off the dying foliage, bearing in mind that this could be a normal transition into its dormant phase.



The Candy Cane Flower is more than a plant; it’s a delightful challenge for gardeners, a vibrant addition to your garden, and a striking testament to the wonders of nature. Its unique charm and color transformations make it a worthy gem despite its demanding care regime. As you learn and grow alongside this enchanting bloom, you embrace a part of unexplored natural beauty that stands apart in a canvas of green.