Walk Like… A Walking Iris

Erica SmithBlog Tower Garden, Horticulture7 Comments

Neomarica gracilis
Walking Iris

Beloved by visitors, the walking iris are blooming now throughout the Gardens. You can enjoy these plants along the paved path to the Tower, the south path and around the Visitor Center.

The sharing of plants is a wonderful hobby for many gardeners. It creates a sense of community with those around you, can spark the interest of a young person, and, most importantly, the task helps clean out your garden for new and exciting plans. Neomarica gracilis, walking iris, is a great community plant. It’s clumping nature allows the plant to be divided easily and shared with friends. Walking iris has been shared so frequently it is a common sight in many home gardens; however, it is difficult to find at nurseries.

But how did it get that strange common name? According to UF/IFAS, “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. Many walking iris plants appear to ‘walk’ through the landscape.”

Neomarica gracilis is a robust plant, native to Central America, and able to survive in zones 8 through 11. Though in zone 8, it may freeze to the ground and return from its roots. It is also an excellent plant for new gardeners, as you can plant it in full sun, part sun, part shade, or full shade; however, it thrives in filtered shade.

Additionally, this iris prefers moist, well-draining soil. Still, it is okay if it receives extra water from time to time, but it is not a water iris and will respond poorly to being saturated continuously. Its hardy nature also makes it an appealing house plant.

The plant can reach between 16 inches and 2 feet in height. When in bloom, the strikingly white outer petals, marked with what could be described as tiger print like coloration at the base. The inner petals are a brilliant cobalt blue and are erect. It should be noted that some references make note that these flowers are fragrant, though it is a soft fragrance.

This blog post was written by Brendan Huggins, Director of Horticulture and photographed by Cassidy Jones, Social Media Coordinator.


7 Comments on “Walk Like… A Walking Iris”

  1. the website’s header is taking up more than 1/2 my screen on a laptop. So I am only able to see the photos in pieces. And there does not appear anyway to collapse the header.

  2. Thanks for the beautiful photos of the Irises. I miss the gardens so much and wish they could open before the end of spring. It’s nice to learn about the plants in the gardens by your very informative posts. Keep up the good work. 🤗

  3. We do not have these bulbs for purchase but you can purchase on Amazon or a variety of online nurseries.

  4. Thank you so much! We are looking forward to being open and inviting our visitors back to the Gardens.

  5. Hi Jamie – we have checked the site on several mobile platforms and are not having issues. Could it be a viewing setting that needs to be tweaked? Older laptops and tablets can have some issues because of compatibility.

  6. My mother grew several pots of Neomarica when I was growing up in the 1950s. They always fascinated me.
    About 15 years ago I visited Bok Tower Gardens and was astounded to see Neomarica growing in the ground outside, which can’t be done in New York. I was so excited to be able to buy the plant in the gift shop.
    I have since wondered if Mother got her first plant at Bok Tower Gardens when she was there in 1941, especially since I never have seen it elsewhere except one huge potted plant at a local nursery.
    My husband and I enjoy the blooms in late winter, early spring—one at a time, lasting only a day—and the wonderful scent.

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