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Ixia – a lovely South African native

Ixia - a lovely South African nativeOK, so I’m a convert. I’ve been gardening mostly with “exotic” plants (i.e. not our native South African plants) simply because I prefer the so-called exotics. Or so I thought. I do have a few indigenous plants in my garden but if I’m being very honest, they are not my favourites, and were not planted by me. Hence the belief that I prefer “exotics”. In April I planted all the bulbs I bought and amongst those were Freesias and my new favourite, Ixias, both of which are native to South Africa.

The Ixias were a freebie included by the Bulb Company when I ordered all my spring flowering bulbs. After lovingly planting all my “exotic” bulbs, as an after thought,  I bunged the free Ixias in a huge, slightly broken, not very attractive terracotta pot that I put right outside my office doors – the doors that lead outside. They sat in the pot and I confess that I didn’t water them very regularly, was disinterested in them and paid them no very little attention. Not even when the shoots emerged and looked kinda scraggly did I take much notice. I just kept thinking “I must move that awful pot sometime”.  The leaves of the plants continued to grow and started looking moderately attractive. “Hmmm, not too shabby after all”, I thought as the stems started to emerge.

And then two weeks ago a wonderful thing happened…

The first flower buds started appearing atop a long wiry stem. And oh they are sooo pretty! My pack of bulbs must have been mixed, because I seem to have them in all sorts of colours. Reds, orange, yellows, yellow with a touch of red, pinks … and they look sort of wild and wonderful all tumbling over the rim of the pot. Some stand upright but mostly they are waving around and tumbling. Now the first thing I do every morning is go to the pot to see if there are any new colours and I waste about half an hour taking endless photos of them … they are a delight to photograph (Click the images below to view the enlargements).

Some photographs of the Ixias …

[one_half]The first budsThe first buds[/one_half]

[one_half_last]More buds, different coloursMore buds, different colours[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Tumbling out of the pot …In the pot ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Even the pot looks quite nice nowEven the pot looks quite nice now[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Pretty pink IxiasPretty pink Ixias[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Yellow with red centresYellow with red centres[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Yellow with darker centresYellow with darker centres[/one_half]

[one_half_last]More pinks – in the sunMore pinks - in the sun[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Orange with dark centresOrange with dark centres[/one_third]

[one_third]The yellow IxiasThe yellow Ixias[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Orangey pink colourOrangey pink colour[/one_third_last]

This Info from Wikipedia …

The genus Ixia consists of a number of cormous plants native to South Africa from the Iridaceae family and Ixioideae subfamily. Some of them are known as the corn lily. Some distinctive traits include the sword-like leaves, and long wiry stems with star-shaped flowers. The popular corn lily has a specific, not very intense fragrance (Wikipedia says it smells like vegetables, I don’t agree!). The Ixia are also used sometimes as ornamental plants. The genus name is derived from the Greek words ixias, meaning “the chameleon plant”, and physis, meaning “bladder”. 

I think they are supposed to stand straigh up – mine are sort of “tumbling” towards the sun. I don’t think they get quite enough sun in that spot but thats as sunny as it gets in my garden. Only about 20 are in bloom right now with another 80 in bud! Should be pretty spectacular when more are flowering. I even have two Ixia Viridiflora – they are a rare version which are turquoise – I wonder if they will make it – I don’t remember where in the pot I planted them. (Known as Green ixia or groenkalossie – in Afrikaans- it is an exquisite species with many-flowered spikes of sea-green blooms with black centres).

So now I’m wondering … have YOU ever planted something half-heartedly, just because it “was there”, and then fallen in love with it? I’d love to hear!

By Christine

Dominated by large trees on a medium sized property, my garden is very shaded. With no “full sun” areas I have to plant shade and partial shade loving plants. I love shrubs and flowers including camellias and azaleas but Roses and Irises are my favourite and getting these to thrive is a challenge …

14 replies on “Ixia – a lovely South African native”

Well, what do you know? The true joys of gardening. It is the surprisingly ordinary that becomes the extra-ordinary! 🙂 They are absolute beauts!! And what makes it special – you gave them no extra care…… how fabulous! 🙂

Hi Barbie – I know – so they are pretty, easy & water-wise! I think these would look FABULOUS in your indigenous “meadow” you are planning! They like full sun – in full sun I believe they strand straight up! Nice and tall too. xxx

PS: Watcha doonin today?

I love it when native blooms turn out to be just as stunning as some of the exotics. The Ixia blooms remind me just a little of Freesia. The yellow with dark centers I think are my favorite, but they’re all pretty. I wish all native flowers were this eye-catching! Do you think you’ll intentionally plant more of them?

My gosh Christine, they really are pretty in all those candy like colors. They would be welcome in my garden if they were native here. The yellow in your first image is my favorite. The draping form is pretty nice too.

Hi Donna – I don’t think they are supposed to drape like that, I see photos on Google images where they stand straight as soldiers, but I don’t mind, I think they are lovely straight or tumbling. I’m quite proud of them 🙂

Funny how you ignored them until they showed their beauty. And these are beautiful! I can see why you enjoy them each morning. I would love to see your turquoise blooming! I have planted lots of things half heartedly, and if it lives, I love it! 😉

Hi Holley – I feel really bad now about ignoring them! I’ll try not to do that again but ignoring the Bougainvillea made it flower – so it seems to work well with some plants. I promise I’ll do lots of showing and bragging if that turquoise Ixia ever blooms! Its apparantly quite rare, so I am holding thumbs they flower for me 🙂

Hi Diana – I went to your blog and searched for the Lachenalia but couldn’t find a photo of the Viridiflora. Would LOVE to see a photo when it blooms again!

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