Thursday, April 29, 2010

Walking Iris in bloom

It was almost four years ago when I stumbled along an unusual looking plant at "The Greenhouse" - a local greenhouse that charges too much for their very nice plants.  It reminded me of an Iris, but the leaves were more glossy and thin.  Those features, along with the fact that it was potted in a hanging basket, had me guessing this was probably not a winter hardy plant.  The coolest feature of all was that towards the ends of many of the leaf blades there were new plants forming!

Baby plant forming on my Walking Iris (Neomarica gracilis) back in August 2006, when I purchased the plant.
I handed over the big bucks for this plant and quickly posted pictures of it to different forums online, looking for an ID.  I got one pretty quickly: Neomarica gracilis, commonly called Apostle Plant or Walking Iris.

I learned that the plant flowers from the ends of the leaves and then produces new plants there.  The leaves sag with the weight of the new plant and the new plants take root, hence the name Walking Iris.  Therefore, the plant that I had just bought had finished blooming.

I found an empty hanging basket and placed it next to my plant and buried each of the new plants, leaving them still attached to the mother plant.  A couple of months later I courageously cut the mother leaf free, leaving myself with two pots full of Walking Iris.  It was actually almost indistinguishable which was the "mother plant."  I was proud.

I kept my plants pretty healthy over the last couple of years, but there were a couple of rough times where my plants dried out and I would lose some of them.  Last summer I lost a whole hanging basket and a half - but some hung on!

And for the first time last week, my plants bloomed!

First bloom
I'm so glad to have these blooms, as much for their appearance as for the promise of new plants.  I can start to fill in my hanging basket again.  And hopefully I can keep them all happy until next Spring.

Closer look at the first bloom
The blooms are very attractive, but only lasted one day.  My plant produced three blooms, each a couple of days after the previous.  So conceivably, a fuller plant than mine might have a couple of blooms at a time over a period of a couple of weeks.  I have something to look forward to.  (Please forgive the ending of this post with a trailing preposition.)


  1. Oh, how nice. It is such a pretty bloom and sounds like such fun. It reminds me of the airplane/spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), in that it has plants at the end of shoots which can reroot if they have the correct conditions.

  2. Wow! What a beautiful bloom!
    Do you keep the plant in your house or in your new greenhouse?
    I am also mindful of your awareness that you should never use a preposition to and a sentence with.

  3. laura wickstromMay 2, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    Iplanted three or four in a flowerbed several years ago,they are growing under an azalea and close to a couple of hydrangeas.They spread on their own and have filled the bed nicely.This winter was hard on them but they are coming back.Don't know if they will bloom this
    year.Your photos were excellent! Thanks

  4. My sister-in-law brought this to me from Florida. ( A little slip in a plastic bag.) It stayed in the plastic bag with a little water for a week as we took our time to return to Texas. We were all gathered for a family reunion at Stone Mountain, Georgia. I have had it here in Texas since June of lat year. I was thrilled to learn the real name. Thank you so much.

  5. I have this plant in abundance. It was introduced to me as African Creeping Iris. A dear friend who has since passed away gave my Mother a "baby" when I was a teenager. As an adult with my own home she gave me a "baby" from hers. This one plant has turned into 5 huge pot's of lush dark green Iris that when in bloom stands about 5 feet tall. Every year around March they bloom, and prolifically! There have been more than 50 flower's at one time on one of my plants, and it sustained this blooming for weeks! I love these plants, and have given all of my neighbors, friends and family some. I very rarely see them in nursery's though, which is strange because they are beautiful and hardy. Mine grow in pot's on my lanai where they get afternoon sun indirectly. They will survive in shady and sunny area's but thrive in filtered afternoon sun. My Mother had them all over her property under oak tree's, and they made the most beautiful densely covered beds. This was in Tarpon Springs Florida. They will die in a freeze, but can come back if it's not a long freeze and the plant is established. For this reason I keep mine in pots, and only move them on the coldest nights of the season here in Florida. My Mom now lives in Tennessee and keeps pot's of it on her porch during the nice months, and under lights in the basement through the winter. It still does very well, amazingly!