Walking iris, Neomarica gracilis, got its name from the way it produces a new plant at the tip of the flower stalk. The plant "walks" through the garden when the stalk bends and the plantlet touches the ground and takes root. The plant flowers in the spring, with flowers lasting for only a short time.
Propagation by Seed
Walking iris usually begins blooming during its first year or second year. Flowers left on the plant will produce seed for use in propagation. Allow the pods to dry on the plant. Break the dried pods open to harvest the seed. Sow the seed as soon as possible and provide plenty of water.
Propagation by Plantlets
The plant propagates itself by producing miniature plants on the flower stalk. The miniature plants grow aerial roots that take root quickly once they touch the ground. When aerial roots form, pin the plant down on top of a small pot of moist soil. Allow it to take root while still attached to the mother plant. Keep the soil moist until the roots take hold, and cut the plant free. Allow it to become established before re-potting or transplanting.
Propagation by Division
Walking iris is readily propagated by plant division. The plant grows from rhizomes that form vigorous clumps. Dig up a clump of walking iris after flowering is complete. Divide into sections 4 inches or larger and replant immediately. Water thoroughly after replanting.
The plant is found naturally growing in the most southern parts of Florida and is native to other tropical areas. It is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10 and 11, but has been reported growing as far north as zone 8 with protection during harsh winters. Walking iris prefers wet soils and will not tolerate drought conditions.
Walking iris are popular pass-along plants because of their quick propagation. They are suitable for growing as houseplants. Plant rhizomes just below the surface of well-drained sandy soil. Protect the plants from frost by moving indoors when a light frost is expected or bring indoors for the winter. They prefer partial shade.
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