|Some years ago, a friend gave me some corms of butterfly iris. (There are several species in the genus. Mine are Moraea grandiflora.) I planted them in a bed that surrounds my old concrete birdbath in the front yard. It's a place that receives quite a lot of shade since it is located between two large live oak trees. The plants formed clumps of narrow, sword-like foliage that remained green right through our mild winters. Even when we had a couple of winters when our temperatures temporarily dipped below 20 degrees F, they still flourished. The foliage grew 2 1/2 to 3 feet high. But the plants never bloomed.|
I had given up on them ever blooming and decided just to enjoy the lush, structural background they provided in my bed. Imagine my surprise then when I glanced out my window a few days ago and saw what appeared to be a bloom among the foliage. I walked out to the front yard for a closer look, and sure enough, there were a couple of the butterfly-shaped blooms among all that green foliage. After all these years!
Each flower of the butterfly (also called African) iris lasts about two days. Then they form large seedpods that are reminiscent of Louisiana iris. The flowers are fairly large and do, in fact, somewhat resemble butterflies. Once established, the plants are quite tolerant of dry conditions and will do well in a bed with other drought-tolerant plants such as rosemary, Hamelia patens (Mexican firebush or hummingbird bush), and autumn sage (Salvia greggii).
And even if the plants never bloom, the foliage itself is quite attractive and makes a nice background in a bed. The flowers, when the do come, are a bonus.