How To Care For A Shamrock Plant

Last St. Patrick's Day I treated my kids to some shamrock plants from our local grocery. The kids were thrilled, put them in their rooms and probably weren't the best at watering them. Fast forward to summer break and the once beautiful shamrocks weren't looking so great; they were turning brown and wilting. So, I watered the plants and put them outside on our back deck where they would receive filtered, not-too-harsh sun. I was hoping to revive the plants or let them die quietly.

Amazingly, they didn't die. Instead they revived and turned into lush houseplants that have bloomed ever since. What I didn't know at the time is that shamrock plants are actually bulbs and not shamrocks at all but a member of the Oxalis or wood sorrel family. The original lack of water sent the bulbs into a dormant stage. And once a little TLC resumed, the plants were back in business.

Here are a few tips if you do buy a shamrock plant to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
  • Don't give your plant too much water. Let the top few inches of soil dry out and then water carefully so you don't harm the delicate stems. I water my plants from the bottom.
  • At night, shamrock plants will close their leaves. Don't worry, your plant will perk up in the morning.
  • I keep my shamrock plants in bright filtered light. They sit in an east-facing window through the winter and on the deck just outside that window in the summer.
  • If your plants start to turn brown and look horrible, give the bulbs some time to rest and rejuvenate. This is usually done in the summer by stopping water and letting the plants die back for a few weeks.
  • Don't stress over giving your plants a rest. They will let you know what they need. Some people grow these plants for years and never give them a rest.
  • Shamrock plants do well in basic household humidity. 
  • From time to time, shamrock plants can be repotted in a high quality potting soil.
  • You can remove spent flowers by snipping them. However, I never remove my flowers and my plants just keep flowering over and over.

This is now one of my favorite houseplants. It's easy and it re-blooms constantly. So, grab a shamrock plant for St. Patrick's Day. It just may bring you a little luck o' the Irish!

Rooster Eating At The Bird Feeder

A few weeks ago I showed pictures of our brown leghorns, who love to fly, eating at our bird feeder. Now that the snow's gone, I found Hank our rooster, feasting at the feeder too. Those leghorns are definitely teaching him some bad tricks!

Chicken Ban Inspires Historic Egg Carton

I've had chickens for a number of years. I’ve even sold some eggs along the way. But never once did I wonder about the history of the egg carton. That changed during a trip to a local antique mall. Hidden in a corner and stuffed on a shelf was a metal carton with an imprint on the front that said “2 Dozen Eggs.” I knew this was a good find and snatched it up.


After some research, I found that my egg carton is around 100 years old and is the by-product of early city livestock ordinances.

It all started in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1913. Ordinances were passed that banned livestock, including backyard chickens, in the city for public health reasons.  At the same time, similar ordinances were being passed throughout the country.

They say necessity is the mother of all inventions. People still needed fresh eggs and farmers had an abundance of them. Inventor Stuart Ellis came up with the solution to connect farmers and city folk. He created a metal box that contained rows of cardboard bent into the shape of an egg and supported at the top and bottom with metal edging. Eggs were placed with the large end down with tissue paper under and above.


The top of the metal carton had a rectangular cut out for the receiver’s address. Inside were elaborate instructions on how to pack the eggs. These instructions were double-sided and had a place to write the receiver’s address on each side. To me, this is one of the first instances of reduce, reuse and recycle. The egg buyer could send the empty carton back to the farmer with the flip of a sheet and vice versa. Pretty efficient!


Through my research, I found all kinds of advertisements from the 1920s in seed magazines and early poultry magazines selling these crates which held up to six dozen eggs and started at 85 cents each. They took advantage of the Parcel Post that now allowed people to send crates, and not just letters, directly to each other.


Unfortunately for Stuart Ellis, his invention was eventually replaced by other designs. Not many remain today to tell the story of why and how the humble egg carton came into being. So I’ll keep mine on my shelf, tell my kids about this fascinating story and count it as a part of America’s rich history in farming, manufacturing and invention.

You can find this post and many of my other posts at Backyard Poultry
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