By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Growing blackberry lilies in the home garden is an easy way to add summer color. Their background is a pale orange or a yellow color on the ‘flabellata.’ Petals are mottled with spots, giving them the sometimes common name of leopard flower or leopard lily.
The blackberry lily plant is also commonly named, not for the flowers, but for clusters of black fruit that grow after flowering, similar to a blackberry. Flowers of the blackberry lily plant are star-shaped, with six petals and are about 2 inches (5 cm.) across.
Blackberry lily plant, Belamcanda chinensis, is the most commonly grown plant of the species, the only one cultivated. Belamcanda blackberry lilies are of the Iris family, and were recently renamed ‘Iris domestica.’
Flowers of Belamcanda blackberry lilies last just a day, but during the bloom season there are always more to replace them. Blooms are followed by a dry cluster of black fruits in autumn. Foliage is similar to the iris, reaching 1 to 3 feet tall (0.5 to 1 m.).
Blooms of growing blackberry lilies close at night in a twisting form. Ease of blackberry lily care and the beauty of the blooms make them a popular garden specimen for those who are familiar with them. Some U.S. gardeners don’t yet know about growing blackberry lilies, although Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello.
Growing blackberry lilies begins with planting the bulbs (actually tubers). The blackberry lily plant can be planted at any time the ground is not frozen, in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 10a.
When learning how to grow a blackberry lily, plant in a sunny to lightly shaded area with well draining soil. The yellow flowering type, Belamcanda flabellata, needs more shade and more water. Rich soil is not a requirement for this plant.
Blackberry lily care is not complicated. Keep the soil moist. Try growing blackberry lilies with Asiatic and Oriental lilies, such as ‘Cancun’ and ‘Stargazer.’ Or plant them in mass for a sea of the delicate, mottled blooms.
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Best way to grow Blackberry Iris?
Herbaceous Perennial Flower
Also known as Leopard Flower
Synonym: Pardanthus chinensis
Exotic, lily-like orange flowers spotted with red adorn these striking 3- to 4-foot-tall plants. Fleshy black seeds provide fall and winter interest, and are used in arrangements.
Spread: 0.5 to 1.5 feet
Reddish orange, spotted with darker red. 'Hello Yellow' has yellow flowers.
Foliage texture: medium
The plants resemble Iris or Gladiolus.
Shape in flower: flower stalks with upright spikes
The flowers are borne along erect stems rising above the foliage.
Propagate by seed, division or separation - Divide in the early spring.
Sow seeds in autumn or spring. Pre-chilling the seeds may aid germination. Self-seeds readily, but unwanted seedlings are easy to remove.
Days to emergence: 21
Remove dead or rotting leaves and divide regularly to prevent Iris borer problems. When dividing, replant only healthy, uninfected roots.
Plants may require staking, especially in rich soil.
Winter protection may be required in Zone 5 and colder. Avoid fall planting because frost may heave roots.
More growing information: How to Grow Perennials
'Freckle Face' is pest and disease resistant, and doesn't require staking.
'Hello Yellow' is shorter (12 to 15 inches) has yellow flowers and doesn't require staking.
©2006 Cornell University. All rights reserved.
|Family:||Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)|
|Genus:||Iris (EYE-ris) (Info)|
|Species:||domestica (doh-MESS-tik-a) (Info)|
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
May be a noxious weed or invasive
From seed direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed stratify if sowing indoors
From seed sow indoors before last frost
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Vista, California(9 reports)
Washington, District of Columbia
West Palm Beach, Florida(2 reports)
Zephyrhills, Florida(2 reports)
Louisville, Kentucky(3 reports)
Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
Lincoln, Nebraska(2 reports)
Fuquay Varina, North Carolina
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina(3 reports)
MOUNT HOOD PARKDALE, Oregon
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Orangeburg, South Carolina
Cabin Creek, West Virginia
On Jul 4, 2020, outdoorlover from Enid, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:
I got these seeds from a demonstration garden but did not plant them for several years and they grew when I planted them. Beautiful large 3” orange spotted flowers!
On Aug 14, 2017, ContainerKat from Heathsville, VA wrote:
This native beauty grows VERY well in Coastal Virginia, and is the fascination of all the neighbors, with its floating Tiger-lily-like blossoms, and the huge Blackberry seed heads that appear in the fall. I have shared seeds with several folks, and they have all had good results. Don't expect blossoms in the first year or two when planting from seed, but the plant is worth the wait.
On Oct 31, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:
What none of the photos show is how small the flowers are in relation to the size of the leafy plant itself. Their season is short, and individual flowers last only a day. The flower display is never particularly showy.
Plants are often top heavy and tend to fall over. They tend to be short-lived but self-sow.
An OK garden plant, if you like it. By all means, grow it to use its dried seedpods in arrangements, or if you collect species irises. But there are so many other showier perennials, I wouldn't bother.
On Aug 18, 2014, wakingdream from Allentown, PA wrote:
The orchid-like appearance of these spotted blossoms makes them a welcome addition to a sunny border. When I placed a clump near a birdbath, the extra wetness in that area caused the Belamcanda to suffer and eventually rot. The second patch in a much drier and sunnier area is thriving with little effort on my part. I saved seeds and planted handfuls of them in a low wide pot. They germinated en masse and were moved to a holding bed to gain size and strength. I usually see blooms in the second summer for seedlings. Roots are a curious shade of orange. Dried seedpods make attractive arrangements.
On Jul 13, 2014, Amargia from SE/Gulf Coast Plains, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:
The botanical name for this plant has been changed to Iris Domestica as the result of DNA research.
On Jul 12, 2014, lynndd from Indianola, MS wrote:
It grew from seed given by a friend. Grows in spite of bad soil and location. Blooms here in early July.
On Nov 14, 2013, JenDion from Litchfield, NH (Zone 5b) wrote:
Love them! Undemanding in full sun with rich soil. Leaves add structure, flowers seem to float above them, and the seed pods are fantastic! a great summer/fall plant!
On Sep 19, 2013, gammaneetz from Garden City, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:
Nice plant in the front of my south facing bed. Have collected the seeds and am going to try to start them in my greenhouse area this winter.
On Sep 6, 2012, BStreuli from SAUNDERSTOWN, RI wrote:
A friend of mine brought me blackberry lily seeds from Monticello. They germinated I planted the seedlings in my garden late last summer and then this spring I moved them to their permanent place. They were lovely when they bloomed though some of them did flop over. I do have one question: should I cut back the leaves as one would do with an iris?
On Jul 1, 2012, Hikaro_Takayama from Fayetteville, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
This plant can be found growing as a garden escape around Franklin County, Pennsylvania. It seems to prefer sunny locations with well drained (a.k.a. dry rocky) soil. There is a particularly large population growing around an old, abandoned limestone quarry near where I live. I dug up some of the plants and gave them to an uncle who lives in South Carolina, and he now has them all over his yard.
On Jul 17, 2011, marti001 from Somerset, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:
I found this growing along a back road that was being widened and dug it up last year. I wasn't sure of what it was but like the iris looking leaves and planted it in my garden. This year it bloomed and I finally found out what it is. It did well in the garden,went dormant thru the winter and is now almost 2 feet tall. There is actually 2 plants, so when I move back to Calif I will try taking one of them with me.
On Apr 9, 2011, in2art from Bellevue, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:
I got a (plant) start from a friend. The flowers are nice, but not stunning or particularly showy. The seeds resemble a blackberry (hence the name, I'm certain). The first year, I carefully collected all the seed. year two. nothing! I sowed the seed back and year three had plants again. In my zone, it definitely needs to reseed so if you don't want it to spread, I think deadheading would prevent it.
On Jan 3, 2011, oahuhiker from Honolulu, HI wrote:
Quote per Wikipedia (disclaimer - experimentation with medicinal plant use can be risky or deadly):
Iris domestica (leopard lily)
The dried rhizome has long been used in East Asia to treat throat troubles, asthma, swollen liver and spleen, gonorrhea, malaria, and arrow poisoning. The leopard lily is a flowering perennial of Chinese origin and is locally used in Chinese villages for its medicinal values. Currently, studies are underway to investigate its apparent potential against prostate cancer.
On Nov 7, 2010, plushweasels from Braidwood, IL wrote:
Nice little flowers, however it spreads like crazy, and is difficult to remove. The birds have dropped seeds and I have new plants about 30 feet away in my rose bed.
On Sep 29, 2010, smurfwv from Cabin Creek, WV (Zone 6a) wrote:
I started this from seed, is PlantFiles correct when they say its hardy in zone 6a? I'm in southern WV and would like to know if it needs to be dug up.
On Sep 3, 2009, floating_stump from Grafton, WI wrote:
My plant grew to over five feet tall in its second year, and has doubled the number of stems. I stake the taller of the blooming stems. I've got it in fairly rich soil, and I water reasonably often. Make sure they get watered evenly, or the leaves can get wrinkly. It blooms from late July to early September.
On Jul 21, 2009, ttec from Owenton, KY wrote:
I live in northern Kentucky. And me and a friend was horseback riding. And came across the Blackberry Lily. And there use to be a old house on this farm. So we just thought that is was planted. But I looked in up on Wildflowers of Kentucky. And there it was! We have been riding this trail for a year or so and never noticed it before. So we think that a bird must have brought this awesome flower! Needless to say, I dug it up and planted it at my house. I hope it survives the transplant. So this flower has been spotted in Kentucky!
On Nov 1, 2008, klstuart from Simpsonville, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:
Had a version of this called "Parks Candy Lily" . I let it go to seed, and apparently the birds like it, and deliver it all over the yard. The next year I had them everywhere! Forms tough clumps and multiplies like crazy. I dug all mine up, and still have them popping up everywhere! Flowers are really cute and unusual though, if you want a yard-full!
On Apr 28, 2008, gapchwillow from Macomb, IL wrote:
I moved in late November, 2006 - too late to get any transplants in the ground.
I wanted to start these plants in my new landscape and so over-wintered them in a container in my insulated garage. I planted them outside in the spring and they did well. Have not seen any self-seeded new plants, but the clump is multiplying at a nice rate, not invasive.
On Jun 23, 2007, lee_ro from Raleigh, NC wrote:
I came across this plant at a nursery last year and thought the flowers to be exotic and interesting. I was told it was called a "Candy Lily" (but it's in the Iris family) and quickly bought it to add to my garden. Each flower lasted a day but was quickly replaced by a new one. The beautiful red speckled orange flowers contrasted nicely with healthy, sword-shaped leaves. Bloomed into fall.
This year it has come back up with what looked to be healthy foliage, thus far (June 23rd) there is no sign of budding. I walked by it the other day and noticed a big stem broken off the plant-- I don't know if the neighborhood landscapers got a little carried away and broke it off while weed-wacking or if there's something more pestilent at hand. after I cleared the fallen stem a. read more way I noticed the remaining stems at the base of the plant are yellowing. I definitely sense something wrong here, and I'm worried because this is one of my favorite garden plants! I've heard these plants may be susceptible to Iris borers and wonder if this is the problem. I may have to give up and dig it out. anyone else have this experience??
P.S. I tried to grom belamcanda from seed and have had no such luck
On Feb 25, 2007, rebecca30 from Cary, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:
I was given 2-3 small potted transplants about 2-3 years ago from a friend in a plant club. They have done very well in the full sun and have multiplied steadily but not out of control. I usually collect the seeds after they have dried on the plant and spread them around in the bare dirt. A few will come up the following year. I have now collected seeds from my original clump to start a new clump elsewhere on my property, of course from seed. We'll see what comes up this year. :)
On Jan 5, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
Blackberry Lily, Leopard Lily Belamcanda chinensis is Naturalized in Texas and other States.
On Jan 3, 2007, pegzhere from Bettendorf, IA wrote:
These aren't particularly pretty in my opinion. Flowers are small and not very showy or long lived. They are impossible to get rid of as well.
On Sep 8, 2006, mxpg from Appleton, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:
Backberry Lily has grown great for me here in Wisconsin. I planted it 5 yrs ago and didn't mulch at all. It has seeded its self to the surrounding area which is fine with me. One even popped up through my patio bricks. The flowers are a nice pop of color and the folliage is great too. Really easy to grow. Sun & Water is all it gets and it performs great.
On Jan 16, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:
The flowers and the seed heads are interesting, but not particularly showy. I think they would look better in a bigger, thicker planting. They have a tendency to flop. My information says they are hardy in zones 4-11. Blooms July-August in my garden, with September seed heads.
On Aug 2, 2005, Alchris from Edmonton, AB (Zone 3a) wrote:
I have grown this from seed in Zone 3A (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) without any winter protection for 3 years. The lily did get continuous snow cover throughout winter. It is just coming into flower now. It is spindly and about 18 inches tall.
I planted it in moisture retentive clay soil that is slightly acidic. The lily receives morning sun but is shaded in the afternoons. This is the last one of 3 that were planted at the same time.
Under the circumstances I think that I will be providing mulch this coming winter as I never expected the lily to survive.
On Jul 11, 2005, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:
I was very pleased with this planted in groups, very easy to grow from seed!
On Jul 3, 2005, navig8rs from Alexandria, VA wrote:
Bloomed beatifully the second year from seed. My wife used the mature seed pods for an interesting arrangement in the fall, which I stripped of the seeds when she was done with them. Despite harvesting the pods, a few seeds must have escaped, because this year (the third), there are seven or eight volunteers in addition the the original ten plants. Not only that, but every year the whole stand gets thicker and the plants stockier. Bloom time for me has been continuously from the beginning of July until the weather cools in September. I highly recommend blackberry lillies if you want a cheerful, carefree flower for a sunny spot that's a bit dry for the average ornamental.
On Oct 4, 2004, shallum from Oakville,
I grew my original belamcandas from seed three years ago since have grown more from harvested seed. Never removed the fleshy 'berry' around the seed and have never had a problem. Simply store in the refrigerator for abouit 2 months before sowing. Beautiful, airy plants with structural foliage throughout the growing season and dramatic fruits in the fall.
On Aug 13, 2004, guyb from Levis, Quebec, Canada,
This particular plant is easy to grown in colder climates as Quebec city, Quйbec, Canada (Zone 4) without winter protection. It blooms here in first days of august. Dry locations don't seem to promote the blooms. No pests or disease observed. Excuse my english.
On Jul 9, 2004, Cheryl_IL from (Zone 5b) wrote:
This plant is listed as a poisonous plant of North Carolina. The berries (seeds) are toxic. It spreads and looks sloppy, and the scapes are heavy and sometimes lean over, but I enjoy being able to divide it and share it every year. I've also had several seedlings pop up in my zone 5b/6 garden. It gets a good amount of sun from the west.
On Jul 3, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:
I recently picked up a packet of seeds and thought I'd check here before planting. am in Hawaii, zone 11 and will update after I see what happens and rate then. packet says "medicinal", anyone know what it's medicine for, or what part of plant?
I am in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Planted from seed. In 3rd year of blooming. Very hardy in front yard garden which is shaded until about 2pm in the afternoon. Plants have grown to between 2 and 3 feet. Lots of blooms. Foliage is beautiful green and I do not cut back during the winter rather prefering to leave intact to protect the base of the plant from the cold and frost. Seed pods break open early winter and remain intact until Spring. Makes a beautiful backdrop to the white snow! Very, very easy to grow from seed. Have mixed in with Stargazer Lilys and Astible. Great show !!
On Jan 10, 2004, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:
I am responding to all the concerns about this plant's frost hardiness. I have had these plants growing here in Missouri without any protection or special care for about 16 years. I have never lost any plants, and I don't water them, feed them, spray them or stake them. They are about the most indestructible and carefree plant I have ever grown. I have some in both shade and sun and am pleased with both. The temps here get down to zero or below every year, sometimes staying in the teens and twenties for weeks at a time, and rarely a snow cover to help protect the plants. Mine are planted in poor, rocky, clay soil. Maybe for once that helps!
On Jan 9, 2004, medicineman from depoe bay, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:
Blackberry lilly, plant thrives in the shade of trees here in the hot spells in South Texas. Has wintered over 2 years with minimal preperation. (we have 3 or 4 frosts)
This is a Traditional Chinese Medicine plant.
(Root is listed as a drug in 1985 chinese pharmacopeia.)
But like most of the Iris family it can be considered toxic.
Seed was taken from China in 1730's to England, To North America by late 19th century.
On Sep 30, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:
I've grown blackberry lily for years, and have enjoyed it upright, or swooping out from under a Plumbago, growing through a Rapheolepis, or anywhere it cares to grow. It does not self seed as much as all those seeds would make you think. I usually deadhead the first and second sets of pods to encourage more blooming, then let the last ones ripen, when I want seeds. The plants are pretty easy to transplant and don't seem to mind living in a pot -- the one I have currently waited nearly a year to be planted. Here in central Florida they seem to be perfectly root hardy. We might get three frosts a winter. When not frosted, these try really hard to be evergreen and often succeed.
On Sep 28, 2003, carterm3 from Pensacola, FL wrote:
A great plant that grows like crazy here in Pensacola. I am anxious to plant the seeds and share with fellow gardeners. My plants have bloomed all summer and it appears they will keep on until the first frost. Great for an Iris related family member in NW Florida.
On Sep 26, 2003, eje from San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:
Handsome sword leaved plant. Started several from seed in January and had blooms in August-September of the first year. Flowers are pretty but, fold up after one day. I've found it's leaves seem to be tasty to just about every variety of pest from aphids to cats. Damage doesn't seem to bother the plant much, though. It just keeps growing. I did end up staking it, as the main stems were a bit floppy.
On Aug 4, 2003, Ladyfern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:
My plant was too floppy to add much to the garden. It was in a SE exposure, but maybe needed more sun.
On Jul 9, 2003, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:
Very easy to grow. I grew in the Mid-Atlantic. Attractive flowers AND foliage. Adds a tropical note to the garden. Propagated easily by seeds, and division. Grows well in many soils and conditions. bothered by few to no pests or diseases..
Seed is ripe when the pods start to split open and or the pods are brown. and the seeds are shiny black. :)
On Nov 30, 2002, trillium_girl from Penfield, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:
I've had this plant self seed itself. I noticed a clump of about 12-15 grass-like shoots. I separated them and planted in pots. They grew to about 8 inches. I put them in the garden this fall. I live in zone 6 near Lake Ontario in Western NY and it has survived for 3 years in light shade. It blooms here in mid summer but the blooms are shortlived.
On Nov 29, 2002, FL_Gator from Dunnellon, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
I have grown this plant in two different climates, Zone 5b KY and Zone 8b FL, and have been pleased with it in both. The bloom season in Florida is much longer.
On Jun 18, 2001, Azalea from Jonesboro, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:
The dried seed heads are highly prized for dried arrangements - look just like Blackberries.
On Jun 17, 2001, CARRIGAN from Milford, CT (Zone 6a) wrote:
Winter hardy to Zone 5. Though it looks like a lily it is really an Iris. Blooms in July of the second year when started from seed. Shiny black seeds follow the flower in September. Tubers from mature plants transplant easily. Short lived perennial. Plant seed 1/4" deep in 65 to 75 degree soil. Germination in 7-14 days, thin plants 8 - 12" apart. Prefers full sun and average moisture. Sow seed in garden after danger of frost or can be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before planting outside. Can also be sown outside, up to 2 months before the last fall frost. Root is potentially toxic.
WATERING TIPS. During germination, keep entire seedbed evenly moist. Keep well-watered through maturity, allowing soil surface to dry between waterings.
HARVESTING TIPS. For root. read more production, pinch back flowers when budding and harvest in the fall. Slice and sun dry.
On Nov 10, 2000, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:
This plant grows to 2'-3' tall. The leaves look like iris leaves. The flowers look like lilies, them come in a range of colors of red, orange, yellow, cream and shades in between. They are usually spotted with a darker color. When the seed pods open the clusters of seeds look like blackberries. Sometimes a short lived perennial.
Best cultivated in sun, low tolerance to frost/cold. Propagate by division or seed. Hardy zones 7/8-11.
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The plant DB says they are hardy to zone 4, so they should overwinter here okay -- maybe?
Thanks so much for those seeds, Cinda ( @Gardengus ) -- any words of wisdom about these plants for me?
To keep seed prices low much of our seed is semi cleaned. More Info
A unique plant that has leaves like an iris, flowers like a lily and fruit that looks like a blackberry (but is not edible). A tough little perennial hardy to zone 5 which needs very little care or maintenace once established. Likes full sun but can take a little shade, not fussy about soil type as long as its reasonably well drained. Needs little water unless in drought situation and will naturalize in meadow like settings producing lovely spotted flowers that bloom for about two months in summer. Not prone to disease and wildlife don't seem to eat it.
Description of Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica).
A tough perennial hardy to zone 5 with leaves more like an iris than a lily. Leaves are linear sword shaped leaves with parallel veins and are green to grey blue in color. They have smooth margins and are usually between 1' - 3' long most often grouped in a fan shape. From the center arises a stout pale green flower stalk that can be either branched or unbranched and rise 2' - 3 ½' in height. The stalk terminates in a group (cyme) of flowers. Each flower is about 2" across consisting of 6 elliptic oblong petals spread out like a wide star with three long yellow stamens in the center. The petals are orange with purple or dark red dots arranged in rough parallel rows across the petal. Flowers are produced continuously from the grooping with flowering beginning in mid to late summer and lasting about 1-2 months. Flowers are followed by oblongish shaped seed capsules which turn from green to straw colored when ripe and open to reveal a mass of shining black seeds that resemble a blackberry. Roots are bright yellow rhizomes with many fibrous roots.
HOW TO GROW Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica).
Location and Care
An easy plant to grow and care for. It prefers full sun but can take partial shade. Its not really fussy about the soil type and is happy on sandy, loamy or even rocky soil as long as it is well drained. While it can do well in moist conditions it cannot tolerate waterlogged soils, it is also tolerant of semi dry conditions and does very well in meadow and prairie settings. Does not need to be watered much unless there are long spells without rain. Plants will be larger in richer soils with more water than in poor conditions but they are survivors. Its mostly a plant and forget sort of plant. It is hardy to zone 5 and while it is a fairly short lived perennial its life can be extended by mulching in colder zones to help protect the roots.
Suggested spacing is 12"-18". Clumps will slowly expand by creeping rhizomes. In optimum conditions it may self seed and form larger clumps, deadhead to prevent seeding and encourage more blooms. .
Flowers can be fairly small and plant does not attract much eye attention until a reasonable size with many blooms. Consider this when choosing a location for the plant as you may want to blend it with other plants that will accentuate the flowers and show them off to their best. The sword shaped leaves make a wonderful addition to any garden adding drama amongst more delicate leaves like Astilbes or fern-like foliage. Like most iris type plants the foliage is rarely bothered by disease or insect pests.
Blackberry lilies are particularly fond of dry prairie like conditions. In some prairie states this plant has escaped and naturalized into the prairies where it can be considered invasive. We recommend that you do not plant blackberry lilies near prairie remnants to prevent accidental invasion of native ecology.
Growing Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica) from seed
Germination of seeds can be slow and erratic. In most cases seeds need a period of cold before they can germinate. Many sources recommend stratification before sowing. We have found that keeping the seeds cold for a period of time before sowing will produce germination in most of the seeds. All of our seeds have been refrigerated before shipping. However since germination is erratic we recommend sowing inside so more control can be maintained over the seeds. Sowing indoors also provides for larger plants that may flower in the first year since they have had more time to grow. Seeds can however be planted directly if desired.
Sowing outside. Seeds can be sown in the fall for spring germination or early spring either when the ground is first workable or after frost has passed. Cover seed to about ¼" and water well until seedling are large enough to combat any small weeds alone. Since germination can be erratic weeds need to be removed from the area for a prolonged period of time. Seeds sown the previous winter may flower the first year, but spring sown seed mostly do not.
Sowing inside. Plant seeds in small individual pots or large cell seed tray in mid to late winter. Germination can be erratic so the ability to move plants individually without disturbing smaller or as yet ungerminated plants is best. Grow in pots until seedlings have at least two leaves about two inches long. Place outside to harden off before planting out in desired location. For details on seeding see our general growing instructions.
Medical Uses of Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica).
Blackberry lily rhizomes have long been used in Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases, most commonly sore throat, tonsillitis, bronchitis, malaria, cough, asthma, mastitis, acute hepatitis and gonorrhea. Its compounds strongly inhibit common pathogenic fungi, as well as some viruses, such as adenovirus and ECHO11 in cold and throat disorders. It has anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic effects as well as producing a significant diuretic effect. From the Chinese medicine perspective it clears heat, removing toxicity, reducing swelling and relieving coughs especially if accompanied by heavy phlegm. Recent studies have shown possibilities for use in treatment of certain cancers of the prostate and lung.
The seed branches can be used to great effect in dried flower arrangements.
What is blackberry lily?
Well its not a blackberry and its not really a lily either. Its actually more of an iris. The leaves are very iris like, while the flowers do look more like a lily and the fruits do resemble blackberries albeit rather large ones. This is a unique plant with no other close relatives and is the sole species of the genus Belamcanda. The flowers although they look like lilies have only three stamens while lilies have 6. For some considerable while it has been a dilemma for botanists. Recent DNA sequencing has finally determined that this plant is far more Iris than lily thus it has been moved from its original family to the iris family and given a new nameIris domestica. This name was chosen since Iris chinensis had already been taken. While accepted by many gardeners and botanists the plant is still referred to by its original name by many who are used to the older name.
leopard lily, leopard flower, Freckle Face, Belamcanda Lily, Belamcanda Rhizome, Rhizoma Belamcandae, Shegan,