Walking Iris for Container Gardens and More

The flashy flowers of Walking Iris 'Regina' can be grown outdoors in warm climates or in container gardens further north.

You know the old saying that patience is a virtue? Well, I recently learned that certainly is true, when my Walking Iris ‘Regina’ finally put on its first blooms several years after I planted it. I was getting to the point of thinking I might need to pull it up and try it somewhere else, when it finally gave me these flowers, making the wait more than worthwhile.

Walking Iris for Container Gardens and More

Walking Iris (Neomarica caerulea) is a tender evergreen. It’s not a true iris, but is closely related, as the spiky foliage and elaborate flowers demonstrate. It can be grown outdoors in zones 7 – 11 (gardeners in zone 7 might want to give it a little extra protection in the winter), and gardeners in cooler zones can grow this in a large container quite successfully. In fact, since Walking Iris prefers consistently moist soil (although it’s pretty drought-tolerant once established), container specimens may actually perform and flower better than those in the ground outdoors. Plus, these individual flowers last less than a day, so having them close by in a container will give you a better chance to catch the show. This is a pretty big plant, so be sure you have room for it wherever you decide to grow it. The evergreen leaf blades grow to 3-4 feet, and tolerate full sun to part shade.

Walking Iris for Container Gardens and More

If you’re growing it outdoors, you can allow Walking Iris to spread on its own, which can be very fun to watch. The flower buds appear from a stalk disguised as a leaf, one after the other and often with several blooming at once. As one bloom dies, more appear to take its place. Eventually, the stalk becomes top-heavy from all the dead bloom heads and tips over, hitting the ground, where it may send root and send up more leaves – hence the common name. (This Walking Iris is less likely to do this than other species and varieties like N. longifolia,  though.)

Looking for other perennials to grow in container gardens? Click here for ideas.

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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.