How to Grow Ixia?
Posted by Ben Rotteveel on

How to Grow Ixia?

 

IXIA PLANTING GUIDE

Ixia, also called Wand Flowers or African Corn Lilies, are colorful and exotic members of the Iris family. Since they love hot, dry climates, they will do very well in warmer areas like the southwest. They look best when planted in groups in borders or containers, and have a lovely, light fragrance.


QUICK GUIDE

  • WHEN

Plant in fall

Bloom in spring


  • WHERE

Hardiness zone 7-10

Full sun or partial shade

Well-draining soil


  • WATER

Once after planting

Moderately in spring


  • WIDTH & DEPTH

2-3” apart

3-4” deep

Arrival

When your DutchGrown Ixias arrive and you can’t plant them immediately, it’s important to store them correctly: unpack them right away and put them in a dry place with plenty of air circulation, where the temperature is between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

How To Grow Ixia?


Garden & Container Planting

If you live in an area with a milder climate Ixias can be grown outside in a sunny spot, but in areas that get colder winters you will need to protect them against frost, for instance by placing them in a cool greenhouse where the temperature never gets below freezing. 

Flower bulbs are tough cookies that are easy to grow, but one thing they hate is getting their feet wet: a bulb that is ‘bathing’ in water will rot in no time. So avoid soggy soil at all cost – this means places where you can still see puddles 5-6 hours after a rainstorm. Another thing you can do is to upgrade potentially soggy soil by adding organic material such as peat, bark or manure. When it comes to planting bulbs in containers, the mantra is exactly the same: drainage-drainage-drainage. Get a pot or box with at least some drainage holes at the bottom. 

Ixias need the sun to grow, but though they adore basking in its glory all day, they can also do very well in places with dappled shade or scattered sunlight.

Ixias will need to be planted deep enough that they won’t be affected by temperature variations above ground, either too warm or too cold. Unfortunately containers can’t protect bulbs as well as mother earth can, so when you live in hardiness zones 3-7 it might be better to let your containers spend the winter indoors, in a cool, dark, well-aired spot that won’t get warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, like an unheated basement or garage.

The standard method for calculating the ideal depth is to dig a hole three times as deep as the bulb is high, and place the bulb at the bottom with its pointy end up. Since Ixias grow less well when they have to fight for nutrients with their fellow bulbs, it’s best to plant them 2-3” apart.

To help the bulbs settle and grow roots quickly, it’s important to water them well after planting, but after that you won’t have to water them again. Now all you have to do is wait patiently for winter to do its magic underground, and spring to surprise you with the rewards of your work. 

During blooming season, you generally don’t have to water your Ixias, but you can water them when there hasn’t been any rain for 3-5 days. 

After Ixias have finished blooming, don’t cut the foliage straight away: through photosynthesis the leaves will create nutrients that the bulb will be needing for its next growing season. After a few weeks the foliage will automatically yellow and die back, and then you can remove it. Now the bulb will be going dormant, and won’t need any watering until next spring. 

How to plant Ixia in your garden:

  1. Wait until the soil is 60 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. In the North this will be in September or October, in the South in October or November.
  2. Pick a spot in your garden that has well-draining soil and gets full sun or partial shade.
  3. Plant the Ixia bulbs about 3-4” deep and 2-3” apart, placing them in the ground with their pointy ends up.
  4. Water well once and wait for spring
  5. After the Ixias have bloomed don’t cut off the foliage. Leave it until it’s completely withered and yellow, then remove.

How to plant Ixia in containers:

  1. Wait until it’s cold outside, with a soil temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. In the North this will be in September or October, in the South in October or November.
  2. Pick a spot in your garden that gets full sun or partial shade.
  3. Find a well-draining container and fill it with loose soil, making sure water won’t gather and stay at the bottom.
  4. Plant the Ixia bulbs about 3-4” deep and 2-3” apart, placing them in the soil with their pointy ends up. Since containers often have limited space, you can also experiment with placing the bulbs closer together, but make sure they never touch.  
  5. Water well once and wait for spring, or, when you live in hardiness zone 3-7, water well and bring the containers indoors, letting them spend the winter in a cool spot like an unheated garage or basement. 
  6. After the Ixias have bloomed don’t cut off the foliage. Leave it until it’s completely withered and yellow, then remove.

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