Neomarica: The South America’s Walking Apostle Plant Iris

Very often, the common names of plants are used to express action.

For example, there is creeping gloxinia, trailing coleus, Johnny-jump-ups, bouncing Bet, wandering Jew, squirting cucumber, and walking iris – often referred to as the apostle iris or apostle plant.

The name “apostle plant” was derived from the number of leaves in a fan, which is usually 12.

Flowering Apostle plant (Neomarica)

Neomarica An Iris Plant Family Member

Botanically known as Marica or Neomarica gracilis is a member of the iris family and native of Brazil, South America.

At one time Neomarica was a favorite house plant.

The general structure and shape of this clumping perennial plant give it a tropical appearance with its sword-shaped leaves arranged in fan formations.

Three of the best-known Neomarica species include:

  • Neomarica gracilis – white with violet markings
  • Neomarica caerulea – soft violet-blue blossom
  • Neomarica northiana – white with violet flowers twice as large as gracilis

Growing and Care of Nemarica Plants

Apostle Iris enjoys moisture but dislikes having “wet feet.”

Plants will not bloom if planted in containers too large. They enjoy being pot bound, and must never be kept in a cool, moist place.

Neomarica gracilis will bloom in late spring if given plenty of sunshine and temperature in the low 70’s. If grown cooler plants are unlikely to bloom.

In summer, plants can be placed outside to rest in partial shade. Its leaves are hardy enough to withstand even the punishment of a moderate hail storm.

The plant’s relation to iris requires the plant to have a period of rest and watered sparingly. Bring plants in before frost.

In late winter, as the blooming time nears, begin giving more water. Keep the soil fairly moist during the growing season.

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When Should Apostle Iris Be Propagated?

If desired, divide plants when brought indoors, and then gradually given any good liquid fertilizer to promote large, early blooms.

Start new plants from the small plantlets which follow the blossoms on the flowering stems. These off-shoots propagate easily in either vermiculite or sand.

Once the root system becomes established transplant the plants into clay pots. These new shoots will produce blooms in two to three years.

Apostle Plant Problems

Should the tips of the leaves turn brown, it is an indication of too much water.

If this condition continues after withholding water, repot in fresh soil after carefully examining and cutting away all dead roots.

Any good commercially packaged houseplant soil will do.

Give only water enough to keep the plant from wilting until it becomes re-established. Also, N. gracilis is an evergreen plant and not subject to plant lice (Aphids) or disease.

Occasional spraying with water will keep the leaves shiny, although they seem to be immune to any pests.

Apostle Iris Flowers

The flower stalk contains two or three small groups of leaves from which the iris-like blossoms emerge.

A rather complicated and showy plant structure at the point where the blossom appears is somewhat like that of the Bird of Paradise plant.

After blooming, this portion of the blade will droop to the ground, take root, and form a new plant. This action gives rise to the name “walking iris.”

The very fragrant flower is made of three waxy-white petals alternated with three blue and white standards with rich brown centers.

Here the graceful curvature of the blades, the showy structure where the blossom appears along with the fragrance and beauty of the flowers gives us considerable pleasure. ::

As the blooming period approaches place your plant in a showy spot on the patio.

The Neomarica apostle plant makes a fine houseplant in winter and patio plant in summer. It will do well where it gets filtered sunlight.

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