Neomarica Species, Apostle Plant, Walking Iris

Neomarica gracilis

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Neomarica (nee-oh-mar-EE-kuh) (Info)
Species: gracilis (GRASS-il-is) (Info)
Synonym:Cipura gracilis
Synonym:Cypella gracilis
Synonym:Marica gracilis
Synonym:Moraea cultriformis
View this plant in a garden


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 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)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Light Blue

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Brewton, Alabama

Eight Mile, Alabama

Elmore, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama(3 reports)

Monroeville, Alabama

Robertsdale, Alabama

Satsuma, Alabama

Tucson, Arizona

Mountain View, Arkansas

Pottsville, Arkansas

Alameda, California

Bonsall, California

Long Beach, California

Rowland Heights, California

Bartow, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Bradley, Florida

Brooksville, Florida(2 reports)

Deltona, Florida

Destin, Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida(3 reports)

Keystone Heights, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Maitland, Florida

Mayo, Florida

Merritt Island, Florida

Miami, Florida

Naples, Florida(2 reports)

Niceville, Florida

Pensacola, Florida(4 reports)

Plant City, Florida

Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Saint Augustine, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida(2 reports)

Sarasota, Florida

Sebring, Florida

Seffner, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Tampa, Florida(3 reports)

Valparaiso, Florida

Venice, Florida

Webster, Florida

Wellborn, Florida

Yulee, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida(4 reports)

Evans, Georgia

Gainesville, Georgia

Rincon, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia(2 reports)

Kailua, Hawaii(2 reports)

Kaneohe Station, Hawaii(2 reports)

Kapaa, Hawaii

Kihei, Hawaii(2 reports)

Maunawili, Hawaii(2 reports)

Wailua Homesteads, Hawaii

Alexandria, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana(3 reports)

Belle Rose, Louisiana

Duplessis, Louisiana

Franklin, Louisiana

French Settlement, Louisiana

Gonzales, Louisiana

Independence, Louisiana

Lafayette, Louisiana

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Maurepas, Louisiana

Pineville, Louisiana

Trout, Louisiana

Zachary, Louisiana

Silver Spring, Maryland

Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi

Florence, Mississippi(2 reports)

Madison, Mississippi

Waynesboro, Mississippi

Schenectady, New York

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Maysville, North Carolina

Nags Head, North Carolina

Cleveland, Ohio

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Conway, South Carolina

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina(2 reports)

Alvin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Beaumont, Texas

Channelview, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas(2 reports)

Fort Worth, Texas(2 reports)

Friendswood, Texas

Galveston, Texas

Groves, Texas

Houston, Texas(2 reports)

Huntsville, Texas

Livingston, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

Port Arthur, Texas

Richmond, Texas(2 reports)

San Antonio, Texas

Spring, Texas(2 reports)

Willis, Texas

Leesburg, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Huntington, West Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 29, 2014, CindySue5 wrote:

Re propagating Neomarica Gracilis. Here in Adelaide, South Australia, (Mediterranean climate) plants grow well and increase in partial shade, as our summers can be very hot. We don't harvest seed, but find that after flowering, stems will hang down to ground level, and if watered, will grow well from there. New plant will flower even if not detached from mother plant. Plants will also increase from rhizomes. We love it, but you do have to be quick not to miss the blooms! It's a joy to go into the garden and see the flowers.


On Sep 27, 2014, orchid39 from Chambersburg, PA wrote:

I am a beginner with this plant and have many questions. I have baby plants emerging from the soil in the pot of my apostle plant. Is it necessary to separate them from the mother plant in order for the plant to bloom? I just got the plant this summer and it hasn't bloomed yet. I am very eager to see the first bloom. It has 12 or more leaves on the mother plant. Hope someone can help me to know better how to care for this plant.


On Feb 25, 2011, Dave_in_Devon from Torquay,
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a very lovely thing even though the flowers are individually very short lived. Their appearance is always something of a surprise, because one day there's no sign of any flower spikes and then they suddenly emerge. The flowers sit well above their bracts and are on pedicels that are longer than other species, which means that many so-called 'gracilis' are probably either candida or northiana. No matter, they're all very attractive and worth growing.

The glossy, apple green leaf fans always look fresh and purposeful so a well-established plant allowed to develop offsets fully on the old inflorescences can look magnificent in a large hanging planter. If you've ever seen an old variegated 'spider plant' (Chlorophytum comosum) looking resplendent trailing from a l... read more


On Aug 31, 2010, tryin2 from Eaton, OH wrote:

i'm so glad to have finally found out what this plant is for sure. i got it from a planter in a bank i worked at in south central pennsylvania close to 15 years ago and have never known for sure what it was till now. it is an easy grower and blooms beautifully. however, my plant has a bug that feeds on the roots and that will quickly kill it. it's been struggling for several years and i'm stressing badly because i don't want to lose it. can anyone give me any tips on how to get rid of the bugs? i have repeatedly repotted it with new soil and pot. sprayed the foliage and roots...before it had bugs it was huge. i haven't tried planting it outside (in southwest ohio) in the pot it didn't do well outside, so i keep it in. any suggestions to get rid of the bugs would be very welcome. i'm open t... read more


On Jul 31, 2010, mochalatte from Maysville, NC wrote:

I received this plant in 2007 from a doctors wife, it was nothing but a tiny baby, but it has grown quickly & very large. It is one of the most beautiful plants i have ever seen or grown. I have it in a 12inch pot growing in my kitchen, I just found out yesterday what the name of the plant is, I was told it was a One Day Iris. I feed it often with schults plant food. It bloomed for the first time in march of this year, since then it has bloomed several times, I gave a pup to my mom for mothers day she loved it, I have several more now that are just about ready to plant. I love this plant & plan to enjoy it as well as all the babies it will produce in the future so I can pass them on to others for them to enjoy!!! Maysville, NC


On May 4, 2010, Judgelolly from Sarasota, FL wrote:

I bought this plant last fall from a nursery in Naples, FL and am growing it in a clay pot on our 11th floor west-facing veranda in Sarasota. It bloomed for the first time two days ago, and I was thrilled! Luckily, we were at home to see the blooms and take pictures. The tips of the leaves get a little brown (maybe too much sun, but I have no choice about that), so I trim them off and the plant seems to thrive anyway. My husband -- the gardener in the family -- is itching to divide the plant, but so far I've kept him at bay. Once it stops blooming, I'll turn him loose on it and share the babies with other veranda gardening friends. What a terrific plant!


On Jul 9, 2009, amygirl from Lafayette, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:

Neomarica gracilis has white flowers with blue markings. This species does not have yellow flowers. The foliage is bright green and very shiny. Quite attractive even when not in bloom.


On May 7, 2009, kafka00 from Alexandria, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Tough plant! Easy to grow. Mine are descended from Hurricane Katrina survivor plants at my relatives' house in Bay St. Louis, MS, west of Gulfport, MS. The ancestor of my irises was under water for at least several hours during the storm surge (their hardwood floor had to be replaced due to flood damage). Mine get some sun/some shade in my patio and overwinter just fine in Central Louisiana 8b. I just uploaded a picture of 3 blossoms taken 5/7/09. I should have babies to trade about 1-2 months from above date. Tell me if anyone wants one; it's too early to put them on a trade list as I have to grow each plant from a blossom.


On Apr 15, 2008, dirtpoorfarms from Rock Hill, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

This plant really takes care of itself. Mine flowers every year, and from those offsets I make another pot. My parent plant is about 3 to 4 feet around and 4 feet to tip from the bottom of its basket. It trails up to 5 feet. It hangs in my gazebo in full shade in the summer and winters in our small greenhouse. I grew up calling this plant a trailing iris.


On Apr 10, 2008, busyc25 from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

HELP! This is one of my favorite plants. WIs are located in two separate full sun areas of my garden. They've grown profusely over the 2 years since being planted and have become over crowded. They are not flowering as they did when first planted even though I have a professional company fertilizing. I do remove pups occasionally and pass them on to friends. I need your help in how to get more blooms and rid the existing plants of the "scruffy" green (tops yellowish/brown) foliage. I noticed in one of the pictures the tops of the plants were cut back. Is this what I need to do? Thanks, St. Petersburg, FL


On May 1, 2007, judy0418 from Savannah, GA wrote:

My great grandmother had the origiinal plant and she's been dead about 35 years. When my grandmother gave up housekeeping I took the plant. I have been rooting and dividing the plant for over 5 years. It just continues to grow in full sun or partial shade, however the foliage seems to be greener if grown in partial sun. Every year I root new plants and give them to friends and family as a gift. It's always well-accepted since it appears to be rare.

Judy in Savannah, GA


On Apr 3, 2007, greenink from Hope Town Abaco,
Bahamas (Zone 11) wrote:

We live in Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas and the Walking Iris is one of our favorites! It gets a bit brown when there is not rain (we have no ground water, only what we catch--so no irrigation here!) But in the summer, spring & fall it blooms constantly & puts out so many new plants that we can share often with neighbors. Lovely in the light breezes as it sways & nods it's yellow head.


On Mar 5, 2007, katladie from French Settlement, LA wrote:

I have this plant growing in the ground in shade under a large oak. It dies back after a frost, but comes back as soon as it warms up. I also have it in a hanging basket under a tree, but I put the pot in the hothouse during the winter. It does very well for me and I love the flowers.


On Aug 23, 2006, cpear from Groves, TX wrote:

I've grown this plant for the past 30 years. I even put several hanging baskets on crates in a part of my back yard that wouldn't grow grass because of the shade and they dropped shoots and rooted in the ground and eventually took over that part of the yard. I originally protected them completely in winter in a greenhouse but a few years ago noticed that an ice storm we had had no effect on several plants in the flower bed that had been unprotected for three days of ice. Now I consider them the heartiest plants I own and don't worry about them at all.


On Aug 7, 2006, cadiek from Huntington, WV wrote:

This plant has been in my family for 30+ years. My grandmother brought in from the family farm in the Hinton/Anstead area of West Virginia. She always called it an orchid. I inherited this plant 18 years ago & was just able to get it identified recently. It is still in the same pot that my mother had it in for many years. We have always had it as a house plant. I never fertilize it & only water it once every 1 to 1 1/2 weeks. I keep it in a window that gets the morning sun with sheer curtains filtering the light. It usually blooms around Mother's Day but this year it bloomed again in July & August. The pups are super easy to start. Just cut off & strip the runner off so the roots are exposed & put in water. It starts rooting within just a couple of days.


On May 10, 2006, R_Lourcey from Fort Walton Beach, FL wrote:

I got this plant from my close friend who moved to Colorado. I didn't know what it was until the other day. I have two pots, and they are both blooming -- purple flowers.
Roxanne, Destin FL


On May 6, 2006, docturf from Conway, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

I just recently (Dec. '05) divided my N. gracilis which had been in the same 3 gallon container for almost 20 years. I was forced to use a hand ax in order to separate the root system into 8 individual "starts". Happy to report that all are doing well. In addition, I have several other mature plants which have been in the ground for almost seven years and I have divided these periodically for many other people in the area. It is simply a great, minimum-fuss plant in coastal South Carolina. (docturf)


On May 5, 2006, mieow from USDA 6A, NY wrote:

I always love this plant. It has a very light good smell. Anybody know where I can find it in NY metro area? Thanks.


On Nov 16, 2005, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:

my neighbor has this plant in full shade, I have it in full sun and both do well. However mine seems to grow at a slower rate, which is fine by me. My neighbor has to thin hers yearly or else the don't bloom as much.


On May 15, 2005, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I was given a single one of these plants about 8 years ago, and it multiplied into dozens by the time I moved from my previous home 6 years ago. I brought a few with me to my present home, and now have innumerable plants all over my yard! They are great, and do excellent in partial-sun / partial-shade areas. (The ones that are in full sun tend to turn yellow).

I have given many of these away, and in fact just gave away 24 plants to all the students, professor, & guest speaker in the last class of my final college course. Have helped to re-do a few homes, and have always used these in the landscaping as well.

Before reading the comments above, it never dawned on me that this might make an excellent hanging-basket plant, and so I've just planted some in a ha... read more


On Apr 26, 2005, CherokeeAni from Plant City, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I live in zone 9 and have had great success with these plants. The rate in which they mulitiply is very good. Always new ones to spread around. I use them in large planters with large night blooming cactus for a dramatic show. The plants stay green year round, have been drought tolerant and untouched even during cold snaps. I fertilize them regularly and keep their soil on the moist side. My only complaint is that each beautiful bloom lasts only one day and they are somewhat fragile as rain drops can spoil their look easily. I have allowed many plants to naturalize an area under a ficus tree and they seem quite happy in dappled shade. My mother in law keeps the ones I gave her in a sunny window inside her home and has had great success with getting them to bloom and produce new plants she ... read more


On Apr 15, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I was given some small walking iris over 2 years ago.. They have grown very well in a container, but they have never bloomed. They seem to grow better here in filtered shade. Do I need to give them more sun to encourage them to bloom?


On Mar 19, 2005, NHLady from Exeter, NH (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love this plant. I was given a division by a woman who grows them in Maine. It's strictly a house plant for me (in NH--z 5). I'd like to divide it to pass along to friends, but I can't recall how I got mine started


On Mar 17, 2005, tallulah from Pocasset, MA wrote:

A family friend gave me 2 of these plants last year. I planted them in a pot in well drained soil and kept it in a mostly-sunny window, watering about once a week. I patiently watched and waited, appreciating it's elegant long deep green leaves. Then a bud formed a few weeks ago, so I had anticipated its flowering. Well, it flowered yesterday morning. It took my breath away it was so beautiful!

I grabbed my camera to take some pictures to share. I am glad I did, because the bloom lasted only a day. This is an easy to care for plant, but make sure you are around to see it on the day it blooms! You don't want to miss it.


On Oct 26, 2004, KaperC from No. San Diego Co., CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

Can't believe there has been no mention of one of the really beautiful characteristics about this plant! The flowers open early in the a.m. and do last for only one day. But if you watch carefully, you can tell when they are ready and actually watch the petals unfold -- just like time-lapse photography. I was interested to read about the bee triggering the reverse action -- have to watch for that. Great plant to show the kids.

Mine is a real heirloom plant, originally acquired from a lady in Savannah, GA, who had it from her mother and/or grandmother. I passed it on here to friends and recently got one back when I lost mine during house moving.


On Oct 25, 2004, ITRAMSIVAD from San Diego, CA wrote:

I brought one baby apostle from Maryland to San Diego, put it in a pot and it has grown into a large beautiful plant. I get many babies and flowers each year. The flowers have a soft sweet smell though short lived and will bloom up to 6-7 times with each new apostle baby. Living along the coast allows the plant to stay outside year round. I was told that the original plant my apostle came from, was in the Pennsylvania woods... growing wild. This plant is pretty much unknown in San Diego.


On Jun 29, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

picked up a couple at the nursery several years ago. they were labeled "blue Iris"...didn't know they were "walking" til just recently. the two have become dozens and do well in most areas of my garden from mostly shady to mostly sunny. I have them with some yellow that I traded with my neighbor. Nice together as they are quite different with the leaves of the yellow very upright and a lighter green while the blue's leaves are more glossy and curve in an arc. the yellows are more hardy and bloom year round while my blue bloom mainly sprin/summer.


On Jun 1, 2004, ckfarr from Spring, TX wrote:

A friend of mine gave me a couple of small plants 2 years ago and I planted them in some metal pails and put them under a tree in my front yard. They get good morning sun and it is filtered the rest of the day. Last year, I saw one bud in the morning and by the time I got home from work, it had already bloomed and I missed it! My blooms only last one day, so I have to pay attention or I don't get to enjoy them. This year, I've had about 20 blooms on one plant and they keep coming. I've now got some babies that are growing from the bloom sites, so I'll have to cut them off and grow some more! This is truly a GORGEOUS plant. I think it looks a bit like a cross between an iris and an orchid. Just beautiful. They are so easy to care for, too. Just a bit of water once a week or so, I ... read more


On Apr 28, 2004, jeanne50 from Dalton, GA wrote:

finally I found out the name of this unique plant. found it on EBay of all places. It did real well for me until I had to bring it in the house. Now it looks like it is on its last legs. there are still some green leaves left but it started out losing its color then dead dead leaves. I am hoping it will come back to its full glory. Anybody have any ideas on what's with this plant. It is is a pot now outside but shows no signs of new growth.


On Mar 11, 2004, Mouldyfingers from Doncaster,
United Kingdom wrote:

Well, hello folks, I live in Doncaster UK, and my Walking Iris only go out side in there pots at the end of May (to cold for them, the rest of the time). I've had my plants 10 years now ,and well haha they are growing fast. I was given 1 as a present, and I could not find out what sort of plant it was for a long time , Nobody new what it was. I grow mine in Orchid compost with added grit (the same as on the bottom of a bird cage), and in 15cm clay pots, I water little and often, only useing rain water, as I have found the chemicals in tap water is oftern , not harmful , but the plants dont like them. I spray dilute food, maybe 1ns a week, and tomato feed, as soon as the flower stem starts to appear. This ensures a good healthy flower, and hence , a new healthy plant,, I spray baby pl... read more


On Dec 29, 2003, Jamespayne from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is pulling me out of poverty! I made over $300.00 in one week just before Christmas! My Grandmother passed away in 1994, and I was the only family member who wanted them. I had no idea what type of plant it was until May of 2003. At this time I have over 300 adult plants and about 150 off-set "pup" plants. They do not require very much fertilization, but I have read they like a "light" acidic soil. I have never had this plant NOT bloom from early Spring into Mid-Summer. They like their soil moist at all times and prefer shady places to filtered sun. Morning sun is best, especially if your zone has hot Summer temperatures. This use to be a pass-a-long plant years ago, and although not a rare plant, it is hard to find one in a nursery. They are a rhizome Brazilian Iris and can be ... read more


On Nov 16, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I'm glad to find out here the name of a plant I grew for years in St. Petersburg, Florida. I acquired the plant at a plant raffle...simply labeled "Walking Iris". I planted it under a very large laurel oak, along with azaleas, liriope, ferns, and syngonium vines climbing up the oak--this was a very shady spot. After a few years this plant pretty much took over the bed, and I had to dig out almost all the babies and pot them up. They sold great at periodic yard sales! The lovely, small, white and deep-lavender flowers only lasted a day, but there were lots of them. This bed had a lot of humus due to all of the falling oak leaves.


On Oct 5, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

If you like blue and white accent in the shade, this is your plant. It may need more sun farther north, but in central Florida, it seems to prefer medium to dense shade. My potted one is not as happy as it will be when I release it into the garden. At my old house (40 miles away) it had gone nuts under the big maple, in the remains of a log. As with most woodland plants, this one adores lots of organic matter, and that's about all the fertilizer it really needs. The dark green leaves are glossy and very pleasing. It is a wonderful accent among ferns.


On Jul 9, 2003, Lainie444 from Pineville, LA wrote:

I love this plant! It blooms best when pot bound. I keep them in pots and in the shade. It seems to be able to take lots of water or low water. I can't seem to kill it. In Louisiana weather that is a definite plus. The blooms last one day and every bloom will make a new plant. When the new roots start showing (about 2 months after blooming), pot and cut it from the mother plant. I have a six year old plant that has over 50 blooms a season. The dark green foliage is lovely. Watch a bumblebee as it lands on the purple petals. As the bee walks up the petal, the petal curls inward and propels the bee to the center of the flower for nectar. Fascinating! This is a great pass-along plant.


On Jun 18, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This plant seems to have no limits... I have a pot in which I originally had 3 plants. Its been 8 years now. I never fertilized the soil there, and the plant keeps growing, flowering, launching new buds. I cant even imagine where its getting nutrients for it! And the buds root easily just in contact with the soil.

Its not hard to control, though. And the flowers, in the summer, are wonderful. It lives specially well in coastal areas.


On Jun 18, 2003, whoopinaggie from Richmond, TX wrote:

I have the walking iris in complete shade under a tree and it blooms and grows all over the place. I have never fertilized it and have never seen it wilt despite the 95+ humid summers. It is actually starting the take over the flower bed and needs to be "weeded" out fairly often.


On Sep 2, 2002, foolishcoyote wrote:

Two years ago one of my apostle plants died (in an outdoor pot) and after pulling out the remains I started planting morning glories there.

Today I found a found a small apostle plant growing right in the middle of the morning glories and I've no idea how it got there or survived the low amount of sun it got.

I can't seem to get more than one bloom at a time and the blooms (for me) only last a day but I love this plant. My leaves have grown up to 1.5 feet, pot-bound and in New York.


On Oct 6, 2001, Evert from Helsinki,
Finland (Zone 4b) wrote:

Walking iris, Neomarica gracilis, is one of the Neomarica species, other well-known species are N. caeruela and N. vittata.

In Finland we call it Apostolinmiekka, or Apostolinkukka, which means Apostles' Sword, or Apostles' Flower. When the plant has 12 or 13 leaves, the leaves are the disciples, and then Jesus rises in the middle of the plant (the flower). In Sweden it has also been called trettonblad (thirteen leaves) because it usually blooms when it has 12-13 leaves.

After flowering plant produces a little plant to the place of the flower.