Blackberry Lily in the Flower Garden

The little orange spotted blooms of blackberry lily add a welcome splash of color to the flower garden.

I recently spotted this charming Blackberry Lily on a tour through the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, where a cheery spotted bloom caught my eye. This member of the Iris family is native to Asia but is widely cultivated around the world, and is a nice addition to most any flower garden.

Blackberry Lily Iris domestica

What’s In a Name? Blackberry Lily was originally considered a member of its own genus and given the botanical name Belamcanda chinensis. About a decade ago, though, researchers used DNA testing to determine that this plant is really a member of the Iris genus, and it was renamed Iris domestica. The fan-shaped growth pattern of the leaves resembles those of other Iris species, and the seed capsule opens to display numerous seeds, another Iris trait. In the case of the blackberry lily, the black seeds are grouped in a way that looks a bit like a blackberry – hence the common name. (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 domestica
Fan-shaped leaf growth

Growing Blackberry Lily. Blackberry lily is considered fairly easy to start from seed; it’s a perennial that will bloom in the summer the first year if sown outdoors in your flower garden the previous fall. You can also start it indoors, but be sure to remove any fleshy coating (aril) from the seed to ensure germination. (This step isn’t necessary if growing outdoors, as the elements will take care of that for you.) You can also find plants from some vendors. Click here for a list of nurseries offering blackberry lily.

Blackberry Lily Iris domestica

Blackberry lily can be grown in zones 5 – 10. Give it lots of sun and fairly consistent moisture, but be sure the soil is well-drained or the plant may rot. Otherwise, this plant is fairly easy to grow. It spreads underground by rhizome and can be divided as you would other irises. It may also self-seed in the right conditions. The flowers and seed pods both work well in cut fresh or dried arrangements.

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

Looking for more easy-to-grow perennials? Click here!

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.