Walking Iris

This post, “Walking Iris” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


Several years ago, my mother gave me a small container of walking irises (neomarica northiana).  From that small container, I now have an area 12’x6′ filled with these plants.  They get their common name from the fact that after they bloom, the bloom stalk leans down and roots in place.  These are supposed to be tender perennials, but mine have survived very hard freezes with no damage.  Mine grow in partial shade.  I have some that get more sun, and the foliage is paler.  This sections needs a lot of water.  Everything about this plant is fascinating.   When the buds are just ready to open, they remind me of the onion domes in Moscow’s Red Square.



In just a few hours, they open completely.  These blooms only last a day, but there are many more that will open tomorrow.  Their blooms resemble orchids.



When a good size clump is formed, these irises make a spectacular show.



This is one plant that makes me think of my mom, and how much she loves these irises.  Thanks, Mom.



  1. Barbee' said,

    April 20, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Where are you located? I have one in a pot and am tempted to plant it outside. Yours are so healthy looking. Do I understand you that they need more water than other irises?

  2. Brenda Kula said,

    April 20, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Oh my gosh, that flower is phenomenal! I’ve never seen anything quite so beautiful. And to think it’s a plant we all tend to take for granted. At least, I use to!

  3. Jane Marie said,

    April 20, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    It’s nice to have memories like that. I am going to look for these bulbs in the fall. They are very interesting.

  4. Jan said,

    April 20, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Barbee, I’m in zone 8b, south Louisiana. They do not need more water than most irises except if they are in a lot of sun. Only part of my clump gets full sun & if we don’t have rain, that section particularly needs water.

    Brenda, I think having a large clump makes this really stand out. Just one plant doesn’t have the impact.

    Jane Marie, if you can get this plant you won’t be sorry.

  5. Nancy Bond said,

    April 20, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    A very unusual and wonderful bloom!

  6. layanee said,

    April 21, 2008 at 5:33 am

    Jan: I have enjoyed visiting your Louisiana garden and those iris are quite lovely. I will have to look up their zone hardiness but I fear they will not survive in 5b. I love the design of your blog with the beautiful scroll on the left and the green background. Very serene. Thank you for visiting Ledge and Gardens in RI. I will look forward to seeing this garden grow.

  7. Jan said,

    April 21, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    These irises might not survive Rhode Island temperatures, but my mother had some in a large container that did very well. If you had somewhere to overwinter them, you could have them. Thanks for visiting Always Growing.

  8. Wendy said,

    March 17, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I have this plant in a large pot in my house in RI. I only found out today what it is called. I have had it for 10 years in the house and it is thriving. It doesn’t require much water but is happiest in a sunny area and it is in flower now. Sadly the flowers only last one day each, so sad because they are really beautiful.

  9. John Wright said,

    May 1, 2009 at 12:07 am

    I have three large pots of these lovely flowers in my small garden in Hong Kong and although I had an idea they were an iris of some kind, never knew what they were called until now.

    They thrive through the tropical Hong Kong Summer and in the cool dry “Winter” season when temperatures go down to as low as 6C overnight they survive year after year.

    • Jan said,

      May 1, 2009 at 3:40 am

      John, I have had mine for years, and I did start out with a container of them. They quickly moved beyond the container into the garden. When my mother gave them to me, she told me they could freeze, so I kept that container and would protect it during extremely cold weather. After a few years of the garden plants not freezing, I stopped protecting the potted ones. I think these lovely flowers are a little hardier than people have thought. Yesterday, I noticed about fifty buds getting ready to open. I bet today there will be a gorgeous display.

  10. Sandra said,

    July 8, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    My sister and brother-in-law have been growing one of these iris’ in their backyard in Tyler, TX (East Texas). They are planted in the ground and get filtered sunlight. East Texas gets regular rainfall and you can basically grow anything there if you stick it in the ground. They do get snow and ice and their plan has survived being planted in the ground. I’m trying to find a place to buy a bulb and get it started in the Dallas/Fort Worth.

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm

      Sandra, I could send you some walking iris once the weather cools down in the fall. If you want me to do that let me know.

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