In Florida's tough growing climate it's a bold statement to say no garden should be without African Iris (Dietes iridioides).
I'm saying it. I've sang their praises many times on this little ole garden blog.
If your environment includes sun, part sun, filtered sun, or shifting shade from a tree canopy this plant will be a work horse in your garden. It might not flower as well in deep shade but its evergreen color will still add a strong vertical element to any area.
With the mild winter conditions we had this year all of mine began blooming in February. One of their common names is fortnight lily. Interestingly, the open flowers only last a period of 24-48 hours. The tall, stiff stems they bloom on will produce an amazing profusion of white flowers every fortnight (two weeks). You don't want to cut them back when the flower is spent because the next bloom will come from the same stem.
Here you can see baby plants produced by the mother plant. Clumps of African iris spread on rhizomes which can be dug up and divided. Just separate the 'blades' that resemble a fan and transplant elsewhere. I'm pretty sure these small babies are from seed since they are away from the clumping plants. I dig up these young ones to move to more locations around the garden.
That's some of them above. You may remember my winter projects adding more planting beds to the back gardens. It will take them about a year to look like a full plant ~~then they will just continue to clump into larger plants.
African Iris is not native but it is SUPER Florida-Friendly. If you are in zone 8 you could notice some freeze damage but in my garden they sail through winter. Long, dry spells do not faze them either. They are quite tolerant of poor soils and I have found them very quick to get established without much pampering.
Look beyond the circle garden seating and the sparkly white blooms will catch your eye scattered about in the butterfly garden and wildflower garden.
On the opposite side of the back garden peer through the native garden to the back side of the property line and you can see African Iris twinkling with brightness through the greenery.
Walk around that area and you will see how I'm using them as a layer in the border on the north side. I put them there because they can take the cold winds of winter. They were just small starts just like in the new area when I first put them there in spring of 2009.
Do you love these easy plants, too?
I've been posting photos of African Iris on my Facebook page since February. Don't forget to click over there and LIKE Hoe and Shovel so you can join in on the discussion! Would love to see you there. Meems