Walking Iris: How To Grow and Care For Apostle Iris

Walking Iris or Neomarica spp. plants are herbaceous perennials with elegant glossy-green sword-shaped foliage and stunning blue-and-white fragrant flowers from the Iridaceae family.

Bloom of the walking Iris (Neomarica)Pin

Out of its several species and iris types, the most popular Neomarcia Walking Iris are the following:

  • Neomarica gracilis
  • Neomarica northiana
  • Neomarica caerulea

These easy-blooming tropical plants are native to Brazil and other Caribbean states. 

These attractive houseplants grow in a clumping fashion in late winter and spring, which makes them ideal ground cover or pot plants.

It’s mostly known by the common names poor man’s Orchid iris, Walking Iris, Fan iris, and Twelve Apostles.

Neomarica species are aptly named Walking Iris because of their propagation style. 

The stalk bends under the weight of the flower and takes root upon touching the ground. The process continues, giving it the resemblance of a walk.

The walking Iris plant is also known as “Fan Iris” due to the fan-like formation of its leaves, and the “Apostle Plant” as the flower is believed to emerge from a fan of twelve leaves. 

Neomarica Gracilis Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Neomarica gracilis
  • Common Name(s): Walking Iris, Apostle Iris Plant, Fan Iris, Twelve Apostles, and Poor Man’s orchid
  • Synonyms: Trimezia martinicensis, Trimezia steyermarkii
  • Pronunciation: Nee-oh-mar-EE-kuh gruh
  • Family & Origin: Iridaceae family, native to Brazil and other Caribbean states
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 10 and 11
  • Size: Grow up to 18” – 36” inches tall and 18” – 24” inches wide
  • Flowering: Blooms throughout the summer, spring, and winter seasons with white or blue flowers
  • Light: Bright, indirect sunlight or partial shade
  • Humidity: Prefers average humidity; approximately 40-50%
  • Temperature: Thrives in average room temperatures of 60° – 75 ° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Prefers loamy, sandy, or clay soils with acidic pH levels
  • Water: Watered frequently during its growth phase
  • Fertilizer: Feed with a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks in summer and granular time-release fertilizer in early spring
  • Pests & Diseases: Relatively pest and disease resistant
  • Propagation: Propagate through division or by planting seeds
  • Plant Uses: Used as an ornamental plant in gardens or as a houseplant.

Their easy-growing nature has also made them famous as the “Poor Man’s Orchid.”

Apostle Iris Neomarica Gracilis Care

Walking Iris Plant Size & Growth

Apostle Iris has a clumping growth habit and can grow anywhere from 18” – 36” inches in height and 18” – 24” inches in spread. 

The walking iris plant matures to a flowering age in less than a year. However, these plants are also grown as patio plants in colder regions.

Flowering and Fragrance

The Walking Iris plant usually consists of stemless leaves. It shows flowering characteristics throughout the summer, spring, and winter seasons. 

Each cluster consists of several flowers. The flowers are cherished for their exotic vibe and alluring fragrance.

The flowers are found in attractive shades of white, yellow, blue, orange, and brown, depending on the species. 

Typically, a flower consists of three large horizontal petals, forming a halo around three smaller, blue-colored curled petals with yellow irises.

Light and Temperature

Neomarica Iris loves to grow under bright, indirect sunlight or partial shade, not full sun. 

Average humidity – approximately 40-50% relative humidity and average room temperatures of 60° – 75 ° degrees Fahrenheit (15° – 24° C) are preferred.

It is recommended to grow all year in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.

Walking Iris Plant Soil & Transplanting

Ample and uniform moisture in the soil is integral for Walking Iris growth. 

It prefers loamy, sandy, or clay soils with acidic pH levels. 

The rhizomes should be buried 2″ inches deep in the soil and 2′ – 3′ feet apart.

If growing in pots, peat or soil-based mixes are recommended. A good potting mix must have sand, perlite, and vermiculite as its ingredients and keep the soil moist.

The pot must be deep and large, with a minimum diameter of 8” inches. It would be best to re-pot the plant after 2 to 3 years.

If growing outdoors, allow the plants to choose their own ground or transplant them to any preferred location.

Grooming and Maintenance

The walking iris plant is fairly low-maintenance but needs to be watered frequently during its growth phase. 

Water the plant abundantly if the weather is extremely hot or the plant starts to wilt. It is not a drought-tolerant plant.

In summer, nourish the plant with a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks. 

Using a granular time-release fertilizer in early spring to provide year-long care is also beneficial. 

Enrich the soil with sufficient mulch to help lock the soil moisture in and protect the roots. 

During winter, water once a month and leave it dormant at other times.

Simply groom the plant by removing the flowers and trimming the stems once the flowering season has ended and the fresh plants have established a healthy root system.

More from the family Iridaceae

How To Propagate Apostle Iris

Walking Iris is a self-propagating plant requiring little to no help to multiply.  

As the flowers bloom, they don’t last more than a couple of days and bring the leaves down to the ground with their weight. 

Consequently, the root of new plants forms from the flower spikes. This cycle will continue, and the plant will walk through the growing space.

Another method of propagating is through seeds and divisions. 

Planting rhizomes in moisture-rich soil and providing the necessary growing environment helps the plant grow easily.

Apostle Iris Pest And Disease Problems

Walking Iris does not encounter any noteworthy pest or disease conditions.

Is The Walking Iris Plant Toxic Or Poisonous?

All parts of the plant are poisonous and may cause gastrointestinal problems. 

Kids and pets should not be allowed to ingest Neomarica.

Is The Plant Considered Invasive?

Walking Iris has invasive potential. It grows naturally along roadsides and wastelands and spreads over vast areas.

Listed as an invasive plant in Cuba, it produces rapidly in dense colonies, which is detrimental to the production of vegetation and other native plant species.

Suggested Walking Iris Neomarica Uses

Walking Iris serves as eye candy for your garden with its long, arched, lush green leaves and delightfully fragrant vibrant flowers. 

It is a great ornamental plant for use as a houseplant or outdoor use. It’s often chosen for landscapes and flower beds. 

Adding them to bun-shaped plants or growing them in hanging pots would create a fascinating visage. It is also used to accentuate natural paths, pathways, and pond edges.

Researchers have also suggested using these plants for erosion control and medicinal purposes.

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