Walking Iris or Apostle Plant
- Type: Perennial
- Zone: 8 – 11
- Height: 16 – 36 Inches
- Spread: 1 – 2 Feet
- Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall
- Bloom: White with Blue & Brown Markings
- Sun: Full, Partial
- Water: Moist
- Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Walking iris is a lovely and exotic-looking addition to any garden. Its flowers resemble a cross between that of an orchid and an iris. It can be grown in full or partial shade, can tolerate a range of soil types, and will thrive in moist locations. This plant does well in mass plantings, providing year-round interest with its upright foliage that’s lovely even when not flowering. It is also well suited to containers and hanging baskets where its arching stems can be highlighted. Walking iris sports interesting flowers, with outer petals that spread almost horizontally. Three curled inner petals add a pop of texture to the center of the bloom. These striking blooms only last a day, but as flowers die more will follow for an extended period. How long your plant continues to flower will depend on the species.
Neomarica sp. is one of those plants with a number of common names. It is sometimes called fan iris, a name it gets from the appearance of its sword-shaped leaves which form a fan of greenery. It is also known as apostle plant, a name given to it because some believe the plant needs twelve leaves before it will bloom. The flower of this plant inspired yet another common name, the poor man’s orchid. This plant gets perhaps its most common name-walking iris from its propagation habit. New plantlets form at the tops of flower stalks which then bend to the ground and take root. Eventually, the new plant will repeat the same process. In this way many walking iris plants “walk” through the landscape. However, not all species of Neomarica walk; some species will hold the plantlet airborne and their stems don’t bend as readily as others. For these, you can snip the new plantlets and plant them.
Walking iris are not prone to insect or disease problems. Spider mites may occasionally visit.
Walking iris plants make an excellent accent along natural paths and pond edges. They look great when massed together and can be used as a taller ground cover in the shade. Walking iris can also be used in borders, beds, hanging baskets, and containers.