Weed Spotlight - Creeping Oxalis

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 28 August 2019 

Creeping Oxalis (Oxalis Corniculta) is a broad leaf, highly invasive, hard to control weed. Most gardeners will have experienced this weed at one time or another and will know how persistent it is.

Over the past month, we've had quite a number of people asking us for advice on how to control this weed in their lawn and garden. Ironically, most have had a good go at trying to get rid of it but have been unsuccessful for one reason or another.  Like many weeds, the secret to controlling it is a persistent, programmed approach, coupled with some knowledge about the weed. 

Creeping Oxalis commonly comes in 2 forms - green and purple. The green form is generally finer that the purple form however both can be said to have very small, clover like leaves that are around 5mm or less in diameter. In Spring and Summer, the weed displays small yellow flowers which have 5 petals. When the flowers mature, they release a seed pod which is filled with fine seeds. Upon release, these seeds spread throughout your lawn and garden. 


Creeping Oxalis: Green form   

Creeping Oxalis: Purple Form

As the name suggests, creeping oxalis spreads quickly, both by seed and by it's spreading nature. It's habit includes masses of fine runners that send down small tap roots at regular intervals. This makes it impossible to pull out by hand leaving gardeners to eradicate it by chemical means. Even with the right chemical measures, you'll need to be patient in your approach with a good level of control often only achieved after several seasons of spraying. 

When controlling creeping oxalis in lawns, I would advise you to use a selective turf herbicide containing MCPA and bromoxynil such as Yates Buffalo Pro Herbicide. This is the most versatile chemical as it is able to be sprayed on most of the common varieties of lawn including buffalo.  Avoid chemicals with Dicamba as this chemical can't be used on buffalo and is known to cause damage to nearby tree and shrub roots. 

You'll need to spray regularly (every 3-4 weeks) and I'd suggest adding some non-ionic wetting agent to your spray mix to to enhance it's effectiveness. Spray your whole lawn instead of patch spraying because its hard to see the extent of how much weed you have. You only have to miss a small section of creeping oxalis to allow it to re-invade all over again.  As I mentioned earlier, persistence is the key - expect it to bounce back an fight it's demise every step of the way but be assured, you can win this battle!

Comments (6)

Oxalis in lawn

By: on 19 July 2021
I have tried bin die a number of times on my large lawn and it has had no effect on the oxalis. Any thoughts on what I should do now? I am considering trying a different selective herbicide.

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Peter Thanks for your query We generally recommend either the Amgrow Bin-Die Killer or the Yates Buffalo Pro. Both are pretty much the same. You could try mixing a wetter and spreader in the mix to help the chemical stick to the leaf for better results Thank you

Purple form Oxalis

By: on 6 May 2021
What is the best way to control Purple Oxalis in sidewalk and patio cracks?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi You can use any Glyphosate type product such as Round Up as long as it doesn't hit plants or turf etc. Thank you

creeping oxalis in clover

By: on 8 February 2021
All the sprays for controlling creeping oxalis are for grass lawns. What does one do when a clover lawn is smothered with the stuff?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Sue Thank you for your query Unfortunately there isn't anything selective to control creeping oxalis in a clover type lawn. All you could try is either spot spraying or painting on the leaf with a product such as Round Up.

creeping oxalis

By: on 26 September 2019
can i use Amicade 700 on a kikuyu lawn to control this ?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Mark thanks for your query Amicade is mainly used for crops. We recommend using Amgrow Bin-Die Killer to control broadleaf weeds such as Creeping Oxalis in Kikuyu lawn.

using bin-die with pets

By: on 1 September 2019
I have a small dog and am concerned about his safety when using Bin-die. Is there a period of time the dog should be excluded from the sprayed area before it's safe?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Thanks David for your question Bin-Die killer is safe to use around dogs. Once applied give the lawn a few hours of drying time


By: on 24 August 2018
Is the creeping oxalis referred to commonly known as soursob or is this a different plant. The first picture looks like soursob to me but I am not sure about the flowers. Is it a relative and if so how do we tell the difference? PS I hate soursob!

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Hennry, That is a really smart question. Both Creeping oxalis and soursob are from the same genus - (Oxalis paniculata - creeping oxalis and Oxalis pes-caprae - Sour sob). This is why if you're looking at photos, the leaves can look similar. In actual fact, the creeping oxalis leaf is less than one quarter the size of a sour sob leaf. You'll also notice that the root zone is different too. Sour sobs have a tap root and a bulb whereas Creeping oxalis has a dense, fine and shallow root system. BTW, I hate Sour sobs too!

Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up