Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Harlequin Flower
Sparaxis tricolor

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sparaxis (spa-RAKS-iss) (Info)
Species: tricolor (TRY-kull-lur) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

16 members have or want this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)
6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

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)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
Fuchsia (Red-Purple)
Scarlet (Dark Red)
Maroon (Purple-Brown)
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season
Flowers are good for cutting
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From bulbils

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Lophophora
Thumbnail #1 of Sparaxis tricolor by Lophophora

By Ulrich
Thumbnail #2 of Sparaxis tricolor by Ulrich

By Ulrich
Thumbnail #3 of Sparaxis tricolor by Ulrich

By Ulrich
Thumbnail #4 of Sparaxis tricolor by Ulrich

By Ulrich
Thumbnail #5 of Sparaxis tricolor by Ulrich

By Lophophora
Thumbnail #6 of Sparaxis tricolor by Lophophora

By Lophophora
Thumbnail #7 of Sparaxis tricolor by Lophophora

There are a total of 44 photos.
Click here to view them all!


8 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive eolivas103 On Apr 2, 2014, eolivas103 from Las Cruces, NM (Zone 8a) wrote:

Well I didn't catch it at the time but these flowers are not supposed to grow in my zone and they struggled greatly during the winter....but they made it through. And I am so glad now I didn't notice the zone requirement when I ordered them because I have really enjoyed these little flowers and their spectacular markings. They may be tall for other people but either because of the winter struggle, imaturity or bad soil; they were small for me. I really hope they make it through many more winters for me. Also, I appreciate the comments about letting them go to seed. I have been deadheading but will stop and see what happens. Update: These plants emerge in the Fall here, and after letting them go to seed, Yes - I have babies. I mention the fall sprouting though because if you grow them in this climate, they need watering. Also, the previously established plants appear to have reimmerged. They have done really good this winter. However, we did not drop below 20 degrees yet as we did last winter. I like to find flowers I can grow among Irises (which are a passion). These seem like one of those good choices because they multiply but at a controlable rate and they are beautiful but will not overwhelm the Irises.

Positive Opoetree On Mar 28, 2010, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

Somewhat hide-and-seek...a surprise to find them...they have such a bright center that it wakes up the surrounding greenery.

Positive degger On Feb 16, 2010, degger from Huntington Beach, CA wrote:

25 small bulbs planted Oct. '07 and since have rapidly multiplied and provided most eye-catching color patterns. Leaves are vulnerable to gastropods.

Positive parrot22 On Mar 21, 2007, parrot22 from Pensacola, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Gorgeous multitude of blooms, the pictures do not do this plant justice.The stems do get heavy with the flowers but are easily staked.

Positive Sheila_FW On Apr 2, 2006, Sheila_FW from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I am not sure who I got these from, not knowing what they were or the name, I put them in the ground in a back bed and forgot them. Well they bloomed a variety of colors that deserve a better location next year. Thanks to the ID forum I was able to get more information on them. I will be moving them to the front yard in the fall!

Positive joedelta On Mar 9, 2006, joedelta from Citrus Heights, CA wrote:

If you let sparaxis go to seed, and don't deadhead or mow them, they spread profusely and in great variety of colors.

It's easy to transplant the corms after they spring up in the fall -- just dig them up, separate, and plunk them down wherever you like them.

Neutral brandnewgirl133 On Dec 30, 2004, brandnewgirl133 from Box Springs, GA wrote:

I have just started growing this plant,but it is a very fast grower!It's very close to blooming,and I can't wait!It gets pretty tall.I'll give more info later.

Positive Kelli On May 18, 2004, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

The flowers are exquisite. I especially like the red. I've never had a problem with the flower stalks not standing up.

Positive Lophophora On Apr 11, 2004, Lophophora from Tokyo
Japan wrote:

Sorry to disagree with people, but...

There are a thousand ways to support weak stems:
1. Planting among stronger growers.
2. Stakes.
3. Group plantings.
4. 1,997 other ways that slip my mind at the moment.. ;)

This flower is well worth the extra effort.

Negative frogsrus On Apr 9, 2004, frogsrus from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This is a beautiful flower but it grows so tall here that it cannot hold itself up without being staked. The stems are just too thin. It is hard to enjoy flowers that are face first in the dirt.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tucson, Arizona
Canoga Park, California
Citrus Heights, California
Davis, California
Huntington Beach, California
Long Beach, California
Martinez, California
Oak View, California
Sacramento, California (2 reports)
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
Santa Barbara, California
Pensacola, Florida
Umatilla, Florida
Hawkinsville, Georgia
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Fate, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Houston, Texas
Kalama, Washington
Seattle, Washington

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