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Information on African Iris

John Walker:

<< I have four clumps of african irises, do you know anything about those. >>

The African Iris, Dietes spp., is not in the genus Iris but a relative in the
Iridaceae family.  

A group of clump iris-like species native of South Africa and becoming
popular for detail garden design.  A vigorous perennial which grows in full
sunlight to partial shade and in a moist, fertile soil.  A mature clump has
many stiff leaves radiating from a tight basal crown.  Medium growth rate.
Medium fine texture.

Foliage:  narrow-shaped fan, basal rosettes, dark green, approximately two to
two-and-a-half feet tall and three-fourths inch wide.  Stiff, erect.

Flower:  white, with yellow or purple-blue markings.  Three inches  across,
borne on the end of a bracted stem.  Open only one day.  Blooms in spring to
early summer.

Landscape Values:  1. Thick, reedlike foliage,  2.  Spring flowers, 3.
 Clump-forming, 4.  Detail design, 5.  Refined foliage.


1.  Listed by several names in plant references.  Included are Moraea
iridoides  and Moraea bicolor.  Sometimes referred to as the African Iris.

2.  Foliage may not survive winters 100 inland from the Gulf.

3.  Especially well adapted for sandy soils.

4.  Growth easily confined to a relatively small clump mass.

5.  Divide clumps every three to five years for best performance.

6.  Dietes bicolor  has delicate irislike, pale yellow flowers with large,
vivid maroon-colored blotches.  Narrow, swordlike evergreen foliage.

7.  Selections from this genus are becoming popular for landscape work,
especially detail design, because of the nice features of the clump foliage
and the stiff, medium-fine texture of the foliage.  The plant has an
unusually clean, refined appearance.

Robert Turley
LaBelle, FL

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