African Iris, Dietes bicolor (Sometimes confused with, or incorrectly called, Dietes vegeta, Dietes Moraea and Dietes iridioides
Also known as: Spanish Iris, Peacock Iris, Butterfly Iris, Fortnight Iris, Bicolor Iris, Yellow Wild Iris, Evergreen Iris and Peacock Flower
(I seem to have a numbskull knack for picking out plants that I like and want to incorporate into the Ola Brisa Gardens plant family about which little has, heretofore, been written. The African Iris is just such a species! Beyond that, like so many tropical plants, I’ve learned over the course of my studying and growing them, there is significant misunderstanding and debate as to their proper botanical place and name. )
Horticulturist Dr. Douglas F. Welsh, of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, states that “Confusion over (the) correct naming of these African plants occurred when the large plant group known as Moraea was split and renamed: those with evergreen rhizomes were now Dietes, and those having corms were left in the Moraea group.”
The genus name “Dietes” is comes from the Greek word “dis” meaning twice and “etes” means an associate and refers to the position of this genus between its two relatives, Moraea and Iris
(Ya’ got all of that? It may be on the mid-term test or, at the very least, a conversation starter for your next block party!)
If nothing else, any plant that is liked by bees, butterflies and birds has got to be OK with me! The African Iris is such a plant.
At a more basic and down-home level, the Dietes family is comprised of some six species of rhizomatous herbs that originated in the tropical environs of southeastern Africa. Tough little, self-seeding characters, they are quite resistant to pests and gardeners alike, being difficult to remove from their adopted terra firma home once they’ve fully set up residency! Beyond that, it germinates easily and can tolerate a wide spectrum of growing conditions.
The small, beautiful flowers last but one day, however fear not others follow throughout the year. The flowers close by midday, except on overcast days (and Irish holidays I may choose to observe)! These dainty, profusely-blooming, small, pale yellow, bi-sexual flowers feature a dark brown spot at their base.
The Dietes bicolor will bloom less vigorously in wetter environs or where the evenings are warm. Yet it can withstand short periods of cold weather.
Typical of Irises, its sword-shaped leaves are arranged in an equitant (fan-shaped) manner. These ¼ to 3/8 inch- (.4 – 1 cm) wide linear, grass-like leaves range from twenty-four to forty-eight inches (60 – 120 cm) tall.
Plant them where they can enjoy full or partial sun and water moderately. Down below, they generally prefer sandy, loamy and silty soil but, in all reality, are not all that fussy as to soil type in which they are planted.
Like Banana or Hibiscus plants, when a stem has stopped flowering, it should be cut back to the ground level.