Sparaxis Species, Harlequin Flower

Sparaxis tricolor

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sparaxis (spa-RAKS-iss) (Info)
Species: tricolor (TRY-kull-lur) (Info)
Synonym:Ixia tricolor
Synonym:Sparaxis tricolor var. blanda
Synonym:Sparaxis tricolor var. griffinii
Synonym:Sparaxis tricolor var. versicolor
Synonym:Sparaxis versicolor


Alpines and Rock Gardens



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual



Bloom Color:

Pale Pink



Magenta (pink-purple)

Fuchsia (red-purple)


Scarlet (dark red)





Medium Purple


White/Near White


Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

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


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

Tucson, Arizona

Canoga Park, California

Citrus Heights, California(2 reports)

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 15, 2020, Majb from Citrus Heights, CA wrote:

No idea where they came from originally, but we have them and I like them-they grow well with no care and get about a foot tall here in Citrus Heights, CA, and are not fussy to care for- they do have a tendency to pop up around the yard here and there, possibly transported by birds or squirrels. We had mostly red ones and so I bought some of other colors, which came up, but in short order I again had only red ones- the other colors apparently either died off, or else changed colors. My 4 O'clocks have done the same thing-I end up with only magenta or magenta with yellow. Does anyone know about something that affects color of these plants, sort of like with hydrangeas going from pink to blue?


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 the... read more


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.