Iris x norrisii is a very interesting plant that flowers in the heat of summer when flowering can be a bit slow in the garden. It also has some very interesting seed heads for late fall.
This poor primary hybrid and its parents have gone through a number of name changes. One parent, Iris domestica (formerly Belamcanda chinensis, aka Iris chinensis) is from tropical SE Asia and the Philippines while the other, Iris dichotoma (formerly Pardanthopsis dichotoma) is from farther north (Mongolia and Russia). Iris x norrisii looks more like I. domestica but due to its parents, it grows in a very wide range of conditions and produces many different color forms.
The wide range of flower color, with and without speckles, is one reason it is becoming more popular in gardens. I especially like growing them from seed since you never know what you will end up with.
They are commonly known as the candy lily, painted lily and orchid lily, although they are not lilies at all. The leaves are distinctly iris-like, forming a definite fan shape. They are short lived, lasting 3-4 years, but they do self sow and can be easily propagated by seeds or cuttings. They can flower the first year from seed.
Individual flowers last only a day, but flowering stems can have hundreds of buds providing a long display of color. I. domestica opens its flowers in the morning and I. dichotoma in the late afternoon. The Candy lily opens its flower at various times of the day depending on the cultivar.
Some named cultivars are available. ‘Dazzler’ is a dwarf strain growing 16″ (40 cm) tall. ‘Vanilla Frost’, a Darrell Probst introduction, is a rare selection that is white with a yellow eye. It is slow to form offsets and does not set seed, so it may be difficult to locate, but worth the search. ‘Sangria’ is a nice purple with golden yellow patterned petals.
Iris x norrisii
(EYE-ris x no-RIS-ee-eye)
Life Cycle: perennial
Height: 90 cm (3 ft)
Bloom Time: late summer
Natural Range: N/A
Cultivation of Iris x norrisii:
Soil: variable, prefers sandy well drained
Water: average to dry
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 10
Propagation: seed, division