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African iris     

Dietes iridioides

African iris is part of the Dietes genus. Its scientific name is Dietes iridioides.

The African Iris’ dainty flowers last only a single morning, but are magnificent when they are in bloom. Although the flowers are themselves short-lived, the African Iris blooms regularly throughout the season. Quite an easy plant to grow, as it germinates easily and can tolerate a large range of different growing conditions.

Dietes iridioides is a herb that produces sword-shaped, dark green leaves in a loose fan. This prolific flowerer carries its flowers on a wiry, arching stem. Its flowers are subtended by white sheathing bracts; the inner petals are often marked with brown streaks near the base; the style branches are lightly flushed with violet, 30-40 mm wide. The flowers are closed by midday except on overcast days. Flowers are produced from spring through to summer.

Blooms appear in these approximate colours:   White and   Banana yellow and   Pastel purple. When mature, blooms are roughly 0.4 cm (that's 0.16 inches in imperial) in diameter.The blooms display an average of 6 petals. Leaves appear approximately as a   Dark spring green colour. It is a flower that typically grows as a perennial, which is defined as a plant that matures and completes its lifecycle over the course of three years or more. African iris is known for its clump-forming habit and growing to a height of approximately 45.0 cm (1.46 feet). This plant tends to bloom in mid spring. This plant is a great attractor for butterflies and bees, so if you are looking to attract wildlife African iris is a great choice.

South Africa is believed to be where African iris originates from.

African iris is normally quite a low maintenance plant and is normally very easy to grow - great for beginner gardeners!

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about African iris have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow African iris

  • Full Sun

    OR +
  • Partial Sun

  • Medium

These tough, drought-resistant plants will thrive in semi-shade as well as full sun, often where little else will grow. Dietes iridioides will tolerate both wind and frost, and seeds itself freely.
Plantlets often develop on the flower stems and root easily when they touch the ground.
Remember to deadhead regularly if you don’t want volunteers to appear next season, as it self sows very freely.

Try to plant in a location that enjoys full sun / partial sun and remember to water moderately. Use Zone 8 - Zone 11 as your guideline for the appropriate climate for this plant. African iris needs a sandy, loamy and silty soil with a ph of 6.1 to 7.8 (weakly acidic soil - weakly alkaline soil). Keep in mind when planting that African iris is thought of as hardy, so this plant will survive close to or on freezing temperatures.

See our list of companion Plants for African iris to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing African iris from seed

Sow seeds in spring after last frost or divide large clumps which spread by means of rhizomes. African Iris has a tendency to self sow quite readily.

Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 1.24 feet (38.0 cm) and sow at a depth of around 0.99 inches (2.54 cm).

Transplanting African iris

Dietes is effective in mass plantings under trees and around water features.

Ensure that temperatures are mild and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as African iris is a hardy plant.

Seed Saving African iris

Fruit is a capsule, oval shaped and it disintegrates to release black seeds. Allow the heads to dry completely on plants, then remove seeds.

Common African iris problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect African iris plants:

The African Iris is quite resilient to most pests and diseases.

African Irises are very resistant to pests.

African iris Etymology

Dietes is derived from the Greek dis, meaning twice, and etes, meaning an associate, thus two relatives, drawing attention to the position of this genus between Moraea and Iris. About five species make up this genus of indigenous, rhizomatous plants. Often seen in gardens are D.grandiflora and D. bicolor.

African iris Folklore & Trivia

Infusions made from the inner part of the rhizome are taken orally in enemas to treat dysentery. Rhizomes are used during childbirth and also for hypertension (Pujol 1990). Ground rhizomes are ingredients in tonics for goats (Hulme 1954). Roots are used for first menstruation.

Some people call this the rain iris as they believe that flowering of this plant presages rain.

Some African cultures believe that, if you have been to a funeral or entered a house with a corpse, you must chew the rhizome and spit on the ground to take the bad luck away. And if you do not chew the rhizome, an immediate member of your family is going to die.

Other names for African iris

Cape iris, Fortnight lily, Morea iris, Wild iris, Wood iris, Indawo-yehlathi, Isiqiki-sikatokoloshe, Isishuphe somfula

Dietes vegeta, Moraea iridioides L., Moraea vegeta Mill

African iris care instructions

How long does African iris take to grow?

These estimates for how long African iris takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!


Popular varieties of African iris

View the complete variety list for African iris »

African iris Forums

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