Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Wild Iris, Fortnight Lily, Cape Iris
Dietes iridioides

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Dietes (dy-AY-teez) (Info)
Species: iridioides (ir-id-ee-OY-deez) (Info)

Synonym:Dietes vegeta
Synonym:Moraea iridioides

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

31 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

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

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
Light Blue
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

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 after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 28 photos.
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13 positives
4 neutrals
6 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive GardenGoddess57 On May 27, 2013, GardenGoddess57 from Orlando, FL wrote:

Beautiful flowers, like white origami birds! Forms large clumps over time that need to be divided and spread out. Not at all invasive in my central FL area.

Positive Domehomedee On Mar 8, 2013, Domehomedee from Arroyo Grande, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I like fortnight lily. The flowers are beautiful and to me they are low maintenance. You do have to clean up any dead leaves and trim back the flower stalks, I do this like once a year. I don't see them as weedy, not at all, but I am in an area that's not humid so they don't multiply all that fast. I do get some volunteer seedlings though. They are not as light picky as most plants and are happy in full sun and part shade, I see this a real positive living in a canyon.

Negative humanbackhoe On Jun 9, 2012, humanbackhoe from Lincoln, CA wrote:

This plant is very invasive. Read rosevilles comment but I did not want to work in mud, so instead I used a 14lb. digging pry bar with a 4x4 block to work up the root ball going around the base. However there are a lot of runners. Does anyone know how to erraticate the runners, will round up do it?

Negative handywoman On Jun 8, 2012, handywoman from San Mateo, CA wrote:

I planted about 80 1-gallon containers that I had propagated in McMinnville, OR. USDA says it is Zone 8 and the plants should be able to survive. But after several months in the ground, they either don't like the heavy soil, or the ample rain, or the cold winter because almost all the foliage died off and all I have left are short bursts of growth (about 3 - 4" high) in the center of the plants. My mother had some in Woodburn, OR and they seemed to do fine. Not so in McMinnville. Any McMinnville gardeners out there with suggestions for a low maintenance perennial that looks great in large beds? And that, as a bonus, might be able to suppress laurel?!

Positive Kiyzersoze On May 26, 2010, Kiyzersoze from Coral Springs, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I love this plant. It tolerates our heat, had no problem with the low 40's and it is almost always in bloom in our area. Have not had a problem with it being invasive.

Negative CAwinediva On May 12, 2010, CAwinediva from Anaheim, CA wrote:

2 years ago I planted a few seeds from a pod I found. Now these have invaded all our flower beds. Between roses, iris and other plants. They are very hard to remove, though we will try the methode mentioned above, using an ax. They are really pretty when they bloom, and that's fairly often here in So. Cal. But I would NEVER plant those seeds again!!!

Neutral Airel_Ice On Mar 16, 2007, Airel_Ice from Arlington, TX wrote:

I just bought mine, I plan on planting it with some grasses. Does anyone have a photo of the plant on a larger scale. I would like to see the whole plant not just the flowers. I am excited to see it will be easy to propagate either by seeds or dividing.. I like getting more than one plant for my buck! :D

Positive Buttoneer On May 20, 2006, Buttoneer from Carlisle, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I grew this plant from seed 5 years ago. Today, 5/20/06, it is blooming for the first time in my greenhouse in Central PA. Quite impressive. It didn't bloom, however, until after I had potted it up to a larger pot.

Positive gypsy98706013 On Apr 17, 2006, gypsy98706013 from Spring, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

It's proven itself to be TX heat tolerant. Although it seems to do better when protected by trees. It grows well right up against all my trees, including pine trees. I collected a ton of dried seed pods last fall but still havn't figured out how to get them started, meanwhile i have a few new ones sprouting all on their own. I havn't divided them yet (2 seasons) but I will in fall. Overall, low maintenance with good payoff.

Positive snagglebuddy On Sep 19, 2005, snagglebuddy from Riverview, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

These were planted when the house was built. For best growth, they should be pulled up and divided regularly. If not they will get huge and the bottom leaves will turn brown. I have noticed lots of babies that I have been giving away. The flowers are pretty. I will try to stop them from spreading seed everywhere again. They are nice, but I don't want tons of them.

Positive michaeladenner On Aug 15, 2005, michaeladenner from Deland, FL wrote:

Sturdy, ultra-low maintenance plant here in Central Florida. It grows rapidly -- even very small, one-gallon plants grow within three years to 2-3' or more in diameter.
Grows best in filtered light here in FL (direct sun farther north), but I have it in full direct sunlight in the swale and it's doing well in those tough conditions, though the leaves are not as deep green. Flowers best in sun, but even in full shade it flowers and grows. Blooms in flushes, with large flowers in the cool season and smaller ones when it's hot. Makes a beautiful cut flower, though lasts only one day.
It does self-sow, but the seedlings are easy to recognize and shallow-rooted.
Note: These plants, when large, are VERY difficult to dig and divide. I have dug and divided monster clums of 4' -- it took me more than an hour to pull the plant out of the ground and another hour to cut the plant into manageable clumps. That said, the one large clump produced 10 medium plants that are now filling a bed.

Neutral sterhill On May 6, 2005, sterhill from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I think this is a lovely flower but it has proved too cold in my Atlanta garden for it. I raised 12 plants from seed. They were good sturdy plants and were very full this fall (no flowers yet) but only one survived the winter, and it is very small with one or two leaves. I had planted two nursery plants but they did not survive either.

Maybe I'll try in my back garden where it is more protected and confine them to pots that can live in the garage in the winter.

Negative rocksprout On Oct 11, 2004, rocksprout from Roseville, CA wrote:

They look great initially. They do well with very little water and tolerate full sun. But they must be trimmed back at the root. Otherwise they spread, growing in diameter and in density.

To remove them: cut them down to about 3" from the ground. Soak them with water to loosen the roots in the ground. Then, with a pick axe, loosen the roots all around and in the center. Then, you can shake them out of the ground with the pick axe that is driven into the center of the plant. Whole bunches of roots come out when you shake them out this way, saving lots of time.

Positive FullertonCA On Oct 6, 2004, FullertonCA from Lake Arrowhead, CA wrote:

I removed a lawn and planted the area with Dietes iridioides (or, I "thought" I had removed the lawn). Although I'm impressed by the hardiness of dietes, the bermuda grass coming up through the middle of the tight dietes clumps has been nearly impossible to weed. I'm hoping to find a spray that kills the bermuda, but not the dietes.

Other than the bermuda problem, this plant has performed beautifully year round.

Positive pokerboy On Aug 27, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a very drought tolerant plant once established. Forms clumps of attractive evergreen foliage. Great flowers. A good plant to try. pokerboy.

Positive Jamespayne On Jun 30, 2004, Jamespayne from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

The flowers of the Dietes Vegata have pastel stripes that look like they were hand painted on the white flowers. Also called the fortnight lilly because it blooms in two week intervals, this is a very hardy plant, especially in areas that experience periods of drought. I have seen them growing wild on the banks of the Kissimee River in Florida, zone 9a.

Positive angelam On May 6, 2004, angelam from melbourne
Australia wrote:

I really like this plant.I think the flowers are lovely and the green blade like leaves make attractive clumps. It does self seed but as removing seed pod will increase flowering I don't find it a problem. The seed heads take quite a time to ripen so it is just a job for doing when passing.
I've had cause to lift and split a couple of large clumps in recent times. Well rooted pieces went straight back into the ground. Pieces with little or no roots went into ordinary potting compost. All the pieces in the potting compost survived. The newly split pieces are the only ones I've found needing water. Established clumps seem very drought tolerant.

Positive PotEmUp On Oct 12, 2003, PotEmUp from Fremont, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Beautiful flowers, nice blade like structure, almost continuous flowering. Self seeds easily, but the new plants are very shallow rooted and easy to pull. My cyclamen and callas have self seeded as much or more than this plant and I sure won't give them up.

Negative jermainiac On Oct 12, 2003, jermainiac from Seattle, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Agree on the weediness. These are planted in parking lots to provide quick growth. I had one. Split it into 2 when it got big. They are both ready to split now.

I thought I had all these baby glads coming up everywhere. Cool, I thought. I felt the foliage after I noticed it wasn't dying back. Lots of dietes plants!!! I'm yanking them all up this winter!

The seeds are very pretty, dark mahogany in color, smooth texture, shaped a little like small Indian Corn kernals.

Positive TerriFlorida On Oct 1, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

I've had no trouble with this plant, it stays where it is put and behaves -- but then, Florida is a high rainfall state, and the southwest is not. The plant probably goes to where there is water, roses would be a prime candidate. It is not very drought tolerant. Perhaps where it is invasive but is still wanted, it should be container grown.

Negative astanton On Jul 11, 2003, astanton from Anaheim, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

In Southern California, this plant is extremely weedy; completely out of control. It evades every single bush--roses and Bird of Paradise included--and starts its growth in the middle of the bush, which makes it very difficult, if not impossible, so remove it. I have rose bushes with five or six Dietes growing through it! Very invasive plant.

Neutral justmeLisa On Sep 6, 2001, justmeLisa from Brewers, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant has iris-like flowers that are on perennial clumps of narrow bright green leaves. This is a very low maintenance plant that thrives on neglect.Each flower last only a day, but is quickly replaced by another. Bloom bursts seem to come in at 2 week intervals. Divide clumps in fall or winter.

Neutral eltel On Jul 26, 2001, eltel from Macclesfield, CHESHIRE (Zone 8a) wrote:

A rhizomatous perennial from Southern Africa. Though listed as Zone 9 it has survived outside in my garden in Central England (European Zone 8), provided it gets plenty of protection (fallen leaves, straw etc..). However, they do best in frost free zones with dry summers.

Flowers (see picture) are followed by large elongated seed pods that are full of small, hard, black seeds. Easy to raise from seed, by careful division of large rhizomes, or by the offsets that are formed on the flower spike after flowering.


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

São Mateus,
Mobile, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
Alameda, California
Amesti, California
Arroyo Grande, California
Beaumont, California
Canoga Park, California
Casa De Oro-mount Helix, California
Castro Valley, California
Cotati, California
Delano, California
Duarte, California
Elk Grove, California
Fallbrook, California
Fremont, California
Highland, California
Irvine, California
Lake Forest, California
Long Beach, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Monterey, California
Moreno Valley, California
Mountain View Acres, California
Oak View, California
Redding, California
San Diego, California (3 reports)
San Francisco, California
Santa Ana, California
Santa Barbara, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Tulare, California
Vallejo, California
Venice, California
Ventura, California
Wildomar, California
Bradley, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Deltona, Florida
Eustis, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Hobe Sound, Florida
Hollywood, Florida (2 reports)
Oldsmar, Florida
Orange Springs, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Umatilla, Florida
Venice, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Kapaa, Hawaii
Hammond, Louisiana
Carriere, Mississippi
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Brookings, Oregon
Beaufort, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina (2 reports)
Conway, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Johns Island, South Carolina
Ladys Island, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina (2 reports)
Sumter, South Carolina
Austin, Texas
Mc Kinney, Texas
New Waverly, Texas
Port Isabel, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Spring, Texas

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