Sunday, March 4th, 2012...1:57 pm

Neomarica (Apostle Plant)


Iris ‘Neomarica’ – Brazilian Walking plant

This morning I was greeted with the first flowering of my Walking Iris plant Neomarica, sometimes called an Apostle plant.  See here.  Neomarica is a genus in the Iris family (Iridaceae) of about 15 species found in Central and South America. It was given the common name Apostle plant because it was believed that 12 leaves were needed before it flowered.

I own Nomarica gracilis, a plant that grows in Brazil, which grows outdoors in plant hardiness zone 8 and warmer. I live in Hardiness zone 6 so it is one of my indoor plants. It is referred to as one of the ” pass along” plants because one rarely sees it for sale in nurseries but is easily passed along to friends and family members. It is a hardy plant with few pests or diseases. The plant has more leaves than flowers with the flower growing at the tip of a leaf. After it blooms, the stem with the flower will bend and form a baby plant that can be started as a new plant. The way it bends and starts new plants makes it seem like it is walking- thus the common name Walking Iris.

You can also divide the plant easily or start it from seed. When this iris blooms in the spring, it has the iris habit of the flower lasting only one day; but the bloom cycle can last 4 to 6 weeks. Though pretty, these flowers do not come in as many color varieties or have as large flowers as the typical irises that grow in most gardens.

The flower on my plant Neomarica gracilis has white outer petals marked with bands of brown at the base and bright blue, erect central petals. Another form, N. longifolia has yellow petals. N. caerulea has blue or violet outer petals that usually are the same shade as the inner petals. If you are visiting California gardens, you can see large patches of these irises at the Huntington Botanic Garden and in older gardens in Southern California.

The plant seems not to mind being pot-bound when indoors. It likes soil-based potting mix and some added sharp sand and leaf mold. It seems to be happy in bright filtered light; I keep it near a north facing window. It does not like hot sun. Water moderately in the summer but keep it almost completely dry in winter. It likes to be kept moist when flowering, but do not over water. I leave mine outdoors all summer long.

If you live in a warm zone where you can grow this iris outdoors, grow it in moderately fertile, humus-enriched soil with a neutral pH of 6.6 to 7.5 in partial shade.

If you do not have a friend who can give you a baby, TheGardenLady has seen it sold online, for example, here or here.

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