Walking Iris or Neomarica spp. [nee-oh-mar-EE-kuh] plants are herbaceous perennials with elegant glossy-green sword-shaped foliage and stunning blue-and-white fragrant flowers belonging to the Iridaceae family.
Out of its several species, the most popular ones are:
- 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 or Walking Iris.
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.
Walking Iris is also known as “Fan Iris” due to the fan-like formation of its leaves and “Apostle Plant” as the flower is believed to emerge from a fan of twelve leaves.
Their easy-growing nature has also made them famous as the “Poor Man’s Orchid”.
Walking Iris Neomarica Gracilis Care
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 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
Walking Iris usually consists of stem-less leaves. It shows flowering characteristics throughout summer, spring and winter seasons.
Each cluster consists of several flowers. The flowers are cherished for their exotic vibe and alluring fragrance.
Depending on the species, the flowers are found in attractive shades of white, yellow, blue, orange, and brown.
Typically, a flower consists of three large horizontal petals, forming a halo around three smaller, blue-colored curled petals with yellow irises.
Light & 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.
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 from each other.
If growing in pots, peat or soil-based mixes are recommended. A good potting mix must have sand, perlite, and vermiculite as its ingredients.
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
This is a fairly low-maintenance plant, but it 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 a sufficient quantity of 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 This Walking Apostle 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 the roadsides and wastelands and spreads over vast areas.
Listed as an invasive plant in Cuba, it produces rapidly in dense colonies, which is detrimental for the production of vegetation and other native plant species.
Suggested Walking Neomarica Uses
Walking Iris, with its long, arched and lush green leaves and delightfully fragrant vibrant flowers, serves as eye-candy for your garden.
It is a great ornamental plant for use as house plants or for outdoor use. It’s often chosen for landscapes and flower beds.
Adding them within 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.