The Walking Iris (Neomarica) is Blooming – Spring is Near
By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
Neomarica, also known as the “Walking Iris,” literally signifies the change of seasons. Typically a late-winter bloomer, some Neomaricas flower successively well into springtime. Once the flowering has finished, young plants grow up next to the spent bloom. The weight of the new growth carries the flowering stem to the ground. In a natural environment, the plants will root into the ground and start a new plant. In time, large clumps will spread in every direction, and voila, the Iris has literally “walked” its way into a new existence. However, as a potted specimen they will not form new plants, but will remain as beautiful contained specimens.
What we like best about Neomaricas:
- Ease of Culture
- Grow in partial sun
- Can handle the stress and moderate light of a contemporary home
- Blooming season is most of February and March
For all three varieties the blooms only last a day but come on in succession to add color to late winter. The first variety, Neomarica gracilis is delightfully fragrant and has deep green Iris-like leaves. Also, dozens of blooms often open simultaneously on older specimens making this a prolific bloomer. From each flower stalk emerge two to three blooming stems with three or more flowers opening every few days over a week or more. The second variety, Neomarica cearulea ‘ Regina ’ is a native of Brazil . Its leaves are lighter; almost a bluish green and blooms open a little later yet the flowering season last over a longer period of time. Also, four to five blooms will emerge over time from each flower stem. The blooms are a popular violet blue with speckled brown center markings.
Finally, the third is a variety, Neomarica bicolor, blooms about the same time as N. cearulea. However, the blooms are the largest of the three and are light blue in color. Neomarica bicolor is the most regal of the three as it stands up 3 to 4 feet in height or more. All Neomaricas grow in partial sun even indirect light, which give most indoor gardeners a chance to grow these paper-like attractive flowers. Many years ago we had a Neomarica that, by accident, escaped its pot and established itself under a 6 foot wide by 25-foot long bench. Who would have thought that several year later a sea of white “Walking Iris” flowers would be heralding all who passed by. Even in the low light found under a bench in a greenhouse the original plant flowered. Then it did what Neomaricas do best, it “walked” or rooted in. Finally, when it had spread so completely and flowered its way into the walks we made note of this vigorous plant that now demanded attention.
Remember Neomaricas grow fast and are forgiving to under watering. Just like clock work they bloom with great regularity. As February rolls around, we can always count on the flowering stems to appear. So if you’re looking for a partial sun plant that will bring greenery to the home interior and flowers to the late winter days look no further - great possibilities await you. Many possibilities await the gardener. Grow on a stake or trellis in container, or grow in a 10-12” moss basket. A structure such as a fence or greenhouse frame would also work. Remember to give this amazing vine height for a dramatic display.