Blackberry Lily Adds Bold Color to Flower Gardens

Updated: Jun. 05, 2024

The orange spotted blooms of blackberry lily add a welcome splash of color to the flower garden. But this plant isn't really a lily!

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Blackberry Lily Care and Growing Tips

blackberry lily tiger swallowtail butterflyCourtesy Terri Resop
Tiger swallowtail butterfly on blackberry lillies
  • Common name: Blackberry lily
  • Botanical name: Iris domestica ‘Freckle Face’
  • Zones: 4 to 10
  • Attracts: Butterflies
  • Light needs: Full sun to part shade
  • Size: 18 to 24 inches high and 12 to 18 inches wide
  • Grown for: Gorgeous cut flowers, border gardening, and the option of being kept in containers
  • Foliage: Long green petals, similar to ones on an iris
  • Seasonal interest: The stunning orange petals give way to shiny seeds in autumn.

I recently noticed the charming blackberry lily on a tour through the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. The cheery, spotted bloom caught my eye. The flowers are irresistible to butterflies and will definitely catch the eyes of your neighbors, as well. The blooms also look gorgeous arranged in a vase.

Blackberry Lily Iris domesticaJill Staake
This plant has spread by rhizome and could easily be divided into several plants now, if desired.

Grow blackberry lily in zones 4 to 10. Give the plant lots of sun and fairly consistent moisture. Be sure the soil is well-drained or the plant may rot. Otherwise, this plant is fairly easy to care for. It spreads by underground rhizomes and can be divided like other irises. It may also self-seed in the right conditions.

Try Freckle Face for rich orange blossoms flecked with reddish spots that appear in late summer. In drier soils, this iris will grow 24 inches, and taller in more moist soils.

Check out the top 10 beautiful lily flowers to love.

What Is a Blackberry Lily Plant?

Blackberry Lily Iris domesticaJill Staake

Blackberry lily was originally considered a member of its own genus and given the botanical name Belamcanda chinensis. Over a decade ago, though, researchers used DNA testing to determine that this plant is really a member of the Iris genus. It was renamed Iris domestica.

This plant is also sometimes called a “leopard lily” because of the spots, though that common name is also used for several other plants.

Blackberry Lily Iris domesticaJill Staake
Fan-shaped leaf growth

The fan-shaped growth pattern of the leaves resembles those of other iris species.

Are Blackberry Lilies Invasive?

Keep in mind that this plant does spread easily and is considered invasive in some areas. Consult your local extension agent to see if this plant is right for your yard. It is native to Asia.

Learn how to grow and care for a gloriosa lily.

Blackberry Lily Seeds

Blackberry Lily Iris domesticaJill Staake

The flowers of this short-lived perennial become seedpods, which eventually split open (another iris trait) to reveal dark berries that resemble blackberries. This fruit gives the plant its common name.

Blackberry lily is fairly easy to grow from seed. If you sow seeds outdoors in fall, this perennial will bloom in the following summer. You can also start the seeds indoors, but be sure to remove any fleshy coating (aril) from the seed to ensure germination. This step isn’t necessary if direct sowing seeds outdoors, as the elements will take care of that for you. You can also find blackberry lily plants online from some vendors.

Iris not blooming? Here’s what to do.