African Iris Care

Growing and Caring for African Iris

African Iris-african-iris
African Iris

The African iris is a native of South Africa, this garden beauty can be found near marsh areas. I love the iris plant because of the bloom which is a mixture of yellow and purple. The African iris belongs to a family of 300 species which is a large family, I have worked with this plant over the years and have always been impressed with its beauty. Installing a bed of African iris followed by adding a 2-inch of layer wood chips or bark nuggets looks really amazing.

Personally, I have not had any problem with these plants and recommended that you give them a try. If you are interested in installing the iris plant in your garden bed then continue reading as we take a closer look at how to successfully grow and care for the African iris.

A complete guide to growing and caring for the African Iris

Planting Location

When looking for a location to install your African iris place in an area that gets full sunlight.

Soil Type

The soil should be well-drained soil that will hold the right amount of water but will allow excess moisture to drain through. Adding compost or organic to your existing soil will help to condition the planting area.

Watering Methods

When watering give your Iris a good soaking then allow it to dry out somewhat between watering.

Fertilizing Methods

When fertilizing your African iris fertilize in early spring and then again in mid-summer a fertilizer that contains 10-5-10 will do. Before fertilizing your African iris read and follow the manufacturer’s label because the label is the law.

Garden pests of the African Iris

Garden pests can do a number on your iris but keeping a watch for and treating these insects will offer help.

  • Crickets
  • Aphids
  • Iris Borer
  • Voles
  • Pill Bugs
  • Moles
  • Verbena Bud Moth


Crickets cause damage by eating holes in the rhizomes, the males are most active in the evenings and at nighttime looking for a mate. The females can lay more than 200 eggs in the soil during the late summer and fall months, the use of bates and insecticides will bring them under control.


Aphids are tiny insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts that are shaped like a hypodermic needle. These insects cause injury by sucking the plant’s fluids. To control aphids the use of soapy water or insecticidal soap will eliminate them. Before using insecticidal soap read and follow the manufacturer’s label because the label is the law.

Iris Borer

The eggs of these moths are laid in debris that is near or on the leaves of the iris leaves that are old. Once hatched in the spring these garden pests begin to search for food. These insects will find their way to the rhizome where the damage is done besides attacking the iris leaves. Control the iris borer by using pesticides that contain permethrin, pyrethrins, and azadirachtin. Before applying pesticides read and follow the manufactures label because the labels the law also practicing proper sanitation by keeping the plant bed clean will help.


Voles resemble rats and are grayish brown- to blackish brown, the voles live underground, their diet consists of a range of things including plant roots, plants, bulbs, etc.. to bring these garden pests under control use toxic baits.

Pill Bugs

As a child growing up and even as an adult we were accustomed to calling the pill bug hog lice. These bugs have shells that resemble and armor and will cause further damage to the rhizome which was influenced by crickets. The most effective way to control pill bugs is to discourage them by removing their hiding place or habitats such as moist leaves and other garden debris. The plant bed should be clean, also the use of baits, granular, and insect sprays will bring them under control.


Moles cause damage by digging into the soil looking for worms and other soil-dwelling insects destroying the plant’s roots,  These mammals can be controlled with mole bates, setting traps or by applying liquid or granule mole repellents.

Verbena bud moth

These moths attack the seeds which are found in the pod. To bring verbena bud moths under control ensure that proper sanitation practices are carried out by keeping the bed free of debris.

Diseases of the African Iris

Keep your African iris healthy by looking out for and treating these diseases.

  • Fungal Crown Rot
  • Bacterial Leaf Blight
  • Fungal Leaf Spot
  • Bacterial Soft Spot

Fungal Crown Rot

Fungal crown rot is encouraged by warm conditions along with moisture, the symptoms include the plant’s leaf turning yellow at the tip, a cottony mass covers the leaf base, and is tan to gray. To control this disease the rhizomes should be exposed to the sun, keep the plant bed free of debris, dipping the rhizomes in fungicide, and cleaning tissues that have been infected will offer some help.

Bacterial Leaf Blight

This disease is encouraged by overcast and rainy weather, bacterial leaf blight shows up as large irregular spots that show up on the leaf margin, the spots turn watery and then brown. The spots then develop a white to gray center, there is no known cure for this disease except to use proper cultural practices. The removal of foliage and debris from the plant bed during the fall months and disposing of, sanitizing tools before pruning operations so that disease doesn’t spread and also avoiding the water from splashing on plants. Your African iris should be watered from the soil or ground level.

Fungal Leaf Spot

Fungal leaf spot is encouraged by continual moisture such as the rainy season, this disease shows up as oval to circular spots on the leaves. The infected leave develops a brown-reddish border with the leaves surface turning yellow to brown. Treating these plants in the fall and early spring with a fungicide and a spreader sticker will offer some help also removing the infected leaves.

Bacterial Soft Spot

High temperatures and moist conditions are responsible for bacterial leaf blight. The symptoms include the rhizomes has a foul smell and is soft which indicates that rot has set in. The leaf fans also wilts and dies, use a knife or spoon to remove the infected tissue by scrapping this will expose the rhizomes to the sunlight. Applying a chlorinate base cleaner will offer help.

Where to install them

Here are just a few ideas on where to install the African Iris.

1. These beauties can be installed near a pond

2. Can be planted in a rock garden.

3. Looks great to install in front of a garden plant bed.

4. What about installing them along a porch or patio.

5. Place them along a wall or fence area.

6. Plant them around the trunks of trees.

7. Install them along a garden walking pathway.

The final word

The African iris is an amazing plant that can work wonders. These garden beauties have made a name for themselves and have proven that they can get the job done by adding that flavor and charm to your garden and landscapes. Like I said earlier I have worked with these plants and have seen what they can do so if you are interested in giving the African iris a try I encourage you to go ahead. You will be so happy that you did as your garden and landscapes get that much-needed touch. So with that said let’s get cracking on these garden beauties.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

6 thoughts on “African Iris Care”

  1. What a informative article. I’ve had iris’s from time to time. The African iris is a beautiful plant. I did not know all of these bugs you listed. I am reminded to plant some iris’s at this location. Is the African iris plant a common iris to pick up a a garden store? Loved the article, thanks

    • Hello so happy to see you and to help. These are amazing plants and you should be able to find them locally. All the best to you.

  2. Your website just amazed me. These are the pieces of information I was looking for many days. Your explanations are very satisfying and you are definitely a pro in this.

    Happy to know about African the way this is the first time I am hearing about this plant. I love gardening and i definitely will plant this after seeing your writing. I believe a beautiful garden reflects the creativity of a person mind.

    I will definitely come back to your website to gain more knowledge.

    Also, your website is well designed and your points are very clear that no one can ask you about something is not clear. Excellent job and keep doing the good work.

    Thank you

    • Hello John and thanks a million you have made my day and I am so happy that I could help. All the best to you and have a good day.

  3. I adore African violets for their beautiful blooms and wonderfully shaped fuzzy leaves. Just the sight of them makes me smile! Living here in the northeast US currently as well as growing up in Southern California, I’ve always thought of African violets as indoor plants and finicky ones at that. Do you have any tips on how to best care for African violets indoors? I’ve always heard that they prefer indirect sunlight, not direct as you mention here.


    • Hello and thanks so much for commenting,  African violets are really amazing and can work wonders even indoors. 6-8 hours of sunlight is what they will need, water when only the topsoil is dry, every month and a half fertilizer with triple twenty liquid feed or slow release and keep a watch for insect and treat with insecticidal soap and you will be fine. Hope this helps and wishing you all the best.


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