The Bicolor Iris, commonly known as the African Iris, produces showy spikes of orchid-like, creamy-white flowers that stand above the delicate tips of the plant’s grassy, slender leaves in bursts of two-week intervals.
The flowers have black spots and orange overtones that make your Bicolor Iris the perfect accentuating plant for entryways, pool sides, balconies, and patios.
Each flower stalk contains many buds and the blooms last for only one day although they are quickly replaced with new ones. For you to be an expert in parenting this plant, read this guide.
- What Is a Bicolor Iris?
- Bicolor Iris Care
What Is a Bicolor Iris?
The Bicolor Iris is a clumping, rhizomatous perennial that belongs to the Dietes genus. The mature Bicolor Iris height is 24 inches, with a spread of 22 to 24 inches. The Bicolor Iris spacing should be 14 inches between plants when growing it in masses or as ground cover.
Bicolor Iris Care
Caring for Bicolor Iris is easy as the plant requires little attention. The plant’s health can be in jeopardy if you neglect your Dietes bicolor. We recommend that you follow all the care tips for your gardening journey to success.
– Water Requirements
The Bicolor Iris loves to stay in moist soil so the plant can appreciate frequent watering. The Iris plant can stay in moving and standing water for a long time without jeopardizing its growth and health. So, you should water your Bicolor Iris two to three times a week. The plant loses its water quickly as it prefers filtered and full sunlight so irrigating your Bicolor Iris regularly helps it to keep its leaves fresh and healthy.
You should allow the potting mix to slightly dry before watering again because your Bicolor Iris can catch an infection if it stays in stagnant water for a prolonged period. Get a moisture meter so that you can easily measure the amount of water in the potting mix of your plant.
The climatic conditions in your environment can affect the watering patterns or your beauty. In winter, the temperatures fall so you should reduce watering as the water evaporates slowly. You can water your Bicolor Iris once every two weeks or when you start to see the signs of wilting.
– Light Requirements
The Iris plant thrives well in dappled to full sunlight as it uses plenty of energy to synthesize new blooms every two weeks. The full sun is also crucial in spring as it assists the plant to lose the old flowers and form new ones.
The Bicolor Iris prefers outdoor spots like pool-sides because these settings receive direct, unrestricted light. If you decide to grow your Bicolor Iris indoors, place the plant on a balcony or close to an open window where it will get enough direct sunlight.
The plant can also be grown in a winter-hardy USDA Bicolor Iris zone 9, 10, or 11 where it can receive full sun as well. The south- or west-facing windows are ideal as they get full sun for at least six hours a day.
If your Bicolor Iris is showing some signs of light shortages, get a grow light to remedy the problem. Read the specifications on how to use the light so that you do not burn your plant. Note that the fluorescent with the blue spectrum provides enough light for your plant.
– Soil Requirements
The potting mix should be organic-rich, well-draining, and retain moisture well. The Bicolor Iris also grows vigorously in neutral to slightly acidic potting soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. If you are parenting your Bicolor Iris near a pool or fountain, the potting mix is always slightly wet. You should not fret too much as the plant can tolerate these high soil moisture levels.
The Bicolor Iris can survive in wet soils if it is kept in full sun so that excess water can evaporate. Although the plant can tolerate moist soils, it cannot withstand stagnant water for too long so you should change it regularly.
– Temperature Requirements
The Bicolor Iris grows well in sunny spots with temperatures that are above 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 degrees Celsius). The Bicolor Iris cold hardiness is between 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 to -6 degrees Celsius).
Anything below these temperature ranges can affect the foliage and flowers of your plant. So, you should bring your plant indoors if you are living in colder environments as it is warmer inside the house.
Please note that you should not place your Bicolor Iris close to the heaters and fireplaces as the plant may suffer leaf-scorching or shock from sudden extremities in temperatures.
– Humidity Requirements
Your Bicolor Iris likes mild to moderate humidity, but it can tolerate dry air. In colder months, the plant may be surrounded by cool, dry air. You should get a hygrometer to test the humidity levels so that you can increase them when necessary. You can humidify artificially to increase the moisture in the air around your plant by misting or using a humidifier.
You can use a spray bottle to mist your Bicolor Iris. You should spray water on the plant leaves and the surroundings, but the foliage should not stay wet for long to reduce the risk of fungal infection.
You can circulate the fan or make sure there is enough ventilation so that excess moisture can evaporate quickly. You can also dry the water droplets on leaf surfaces the leaves using a paper towel or a soft cloth.
Placing your Bicolor Iris near other plants can help it with increased humidity levels. When the plants transpire together, there will be more moisture in the surrounding atmosphere and that’s how the humidity is increased. The leaves of your Bicolor Iris remain fresh and upright if the humidity level is high enough.
– Fertilizing Requirements
The Bicolor Iris needs a steady supply of a well-balanced NPK fertilizer for it to continue producing new vibrant flowers every two weeks. Dilute the Bicolor Iris fertilizer to half-strength and apply it once or twice a month. Make sure the potting mix is moist when you are applying the fertilizers to improve absorption and avoid burning the plant’s roots.
The NPK fertilizer can be ideal as it has enough nitrogen needed for this Fortnight lily to flower. The phosphorus and potassium nutrients are also necessary for the development of color and the production of healthy stems and leaves.
Do not over-fertilize your Bicolor Iris. If you see a white crust on the surface of the potting mix, know that you are over-fertilizing your plant. You can also see the build-up of salts outside the terracotta pot. Once you notice that, start splashing water through the pot when irrigating to get rid of the accumulated salts.
You should prune your Bicolor Iris to remove dead, diseased, or brown leaves and flowers. This helps to maintain your plant’s striking looks. You can also prune to prevent the plant from self-seeding by cutting the seed pod.
You should disinfect the pruning shear or scissors with rubbing alcohol before using it. Also, sharpen the tools so that you can leave a clean cut that can heal easily and quickly.
Do not prune the flower stalk until it deteriorates. The plant continues to produce new blooms on the same stalk as long as it is still healthy. Please note that you should not prune more than one-third of your plant’s leaves. Excessive pruning can hinder the Bicolor Iris in producing more new foliage.
Propagate your Bicolor Iris using seeds and by division. It can be difficult to propagate using seeds as they may fail to germinate.
– Using Seeds
The preferable time to propagate the Bicolor Iris is in spring and fall. The temperatures are usually not too hot or cold. For the seeds to germinate, they like an optimum temperature of around 59 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius) but they take time, especially when you plant them with the outer covering. Prepare a pot with a moist, nutrient-rich, seed starter potting mix.
Cut the pod from the mature Bicolor Iris and open it to access around 20 seeds. The Bicolor Iris seeds have a hard outer covering that is impervious to water. Therefore, you should scarify the seeds by removing the covering to speed up the germination process. You can then soak the seeds overnight and sow them in pots.
Light is a special requirement for germination to take place so you should barely cover them with the potting soil. Place the pot in a warm spot that is partially shaded, and you should keep the potting mix moist by misting it.
The seed can germinate within 18 to 20 days. You can transplant the new Bicolor Iris to a permanent pot when you see a couple of leaves growing and start treating the plant the same way you do the old one.
– By Division
This method is an easy and effective way of propagating the Bicolor Iris. Propagation should be done after the flowering months. Start by selecting the clumped Bicolor Iris and divide the rhizomes into many sections. Use a sharp, sterilized tool to separate the rhizomes.
Prepare a pot with the potting mix and make a hole that is three to four inches deep. The hole should also be a few inches wider than the width of the rhizome. Form a ridge by pouring some loose soil into the hole. Place the rhizome on the ridge and allow the roots tubes to lay down on either side.
Then, cover the hole with the potting soil, leaving the top part of the rhizome uncovered. If you are planting the rhizomes in the ground, make sure they are one to two feet apart. After planting, feed your Bicolor Iris with low nitrogen fertilizer and apply again in spring. Water your plant frequently to keep it moist until it is well-established in its new location.
The Bicolor Iris is susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections, but the plant can deal with them if they are mild. Like other plants, it can also be affected by pests. Be on the lookout for common pests and diseases so that you can treat them as early as possible.
The signs of rust on the Bicolor Iris are the yellow, red, brown, and orange spore masses on the plant. The spores are like the raised dots on the stems, leaves, and blooms of your Bicolor Iris. Rust can also form galls that can be covered by the spore masses. Leaves can also fall prematurely, and the plant’s growth can be affected.
Overhead irrigation can cause the development of rust. Do not water directly on the plant’s foliage when irrigating or make sure you dry the leaves if they are mistakenly watered. You can also water your plant early in the morning up to around 10 a.m. so that the leaves will have enough time to dry before nightfall. Quarantine and trim the affected Bicolor Iris.
You should also clean all the debris around your plant. You can also use sulfur powders and copper sprays to prevent infection. Fungicides can also be used to treat the disease and should be applied for about four to five weeks until you see that the rust symptoms have disappeared completely.
– Botrytis Blight
The most affected parts are the lower leaves that are near the soil surface. The leaves rot and will be covered with grey fungal growth. The blooms may also fade away while the stems may collapse. The affected Bicolor Iris can develop into another disease called crown rot.
You can control the disease by improving ventilation, which reduces high humidity levels. Use fungicides to prevent and treat the disease.
– Fungal Crown Rot
This disease is also known as sclerotium or the southern blight. The fungal crown rot is caused by a soil-borne fungus and the disease is difficult to notice at an early stage. The infected plant’s leaves can turn red, yellow, or purplish. Your Bicolor Iris can show some signs of wilting and can quickly die.
You should prevent the development of crown rot on your plant as the disease is difficult to treat. The infected plant cannot be saved. Once your Bicolor Iris is affected, discard it and make sure you disinfect the area where the plant was to stop the spreading of the disease.
You can also use fungicides like Captan and Alliette to prevent the fungal crown rot disease. Mix one tablespoon of Captan or Alliete with one gallon of water and use it to drench the dry soil so that the solution can penetrate properly. You should repeat the process twice every month for best results.
– Bacterial Leaf Blight
The disease affects the leaves of your Bicolor Iris. The leaves will have irregular-shaped brown or yellow spots. If the disease is not treated in time, the spots will continue growing bigger until they merge and form cankers. The foliage can also become black and mushy.
You can also check the signs of bacterial leaf blight at the top edges or bases of the leaves. The infected Bicolor Iris will produce an unpleasant smell. You should be careful not to cut the plant tissues when working on the plant. Also, make sure you propagate the Bicolor Iris using a healthy rhizome.
Once your Bicolor Iris is affected, remove the infected parts but if heavily affected, discard the whole plant.
– Mosaic Virus
This virus disease causes yellow spots, dark green, and light patches on your Bicolor Iris’ leaves. The mosaic virus can also stunt the growth of your Bicolor Iris. If you notice the infection, remove the plant immediately and destroy it to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to healthy plants. Remember to sanitize the surrounding place where the plant was to completely get rid of the disease.
– Voles and Mice
These pests feed on the plant’s rhizomes mostly when the weather is cool. Voles burrow through the soil to make a tunnel and in the process, they may uproot the rhizomes. Some of the rhizomes may also be exposed to airflow which can dry them, negatively affecting the growth of and the plant’s growth may be affected. In the process.
You can plant your Bicolor Iris in the center of the 0.25 inch-cage that is made of wire mesh. Burry the cage six to ten inches deep so that the mice and voles may not have access to the rhizomes. You can also control these pests using poisonous baits and traps.
Whiteflies are sap-sucking pests. The nymph and adult whiteflies feed on the plant’s juice and they excrete honeydew. Check for the nymph on the undersides of the leaves if you suspect a whitefly infection.
You can use sticky traps to capture adult whiteflies. Neem oil can also kill the whiteflies at all their stages of reproduction. Insecticidal soap can also control these pests.
Nematodes feed on the Bicolor Iris’ rhizomes. This may affect the growth of your plant. You can introduce parasitic wasps and ladybugs to feast on these pests.
– Repotting Needed
Late July to mid-August is the ideal time for repotting your Bicolor Iris. This is the time when the plant has a moderate growth rate so it recovers quickly from the repotting shock. You should not repeatedly repot your Bicolor Iris as it remains confined to limited space for a long period.
You can repot your plant when you see the roots protruding from the pot through the drainage holes. Also, repot when you notice the roots on the surface of the potting mix.
If the plant is growing outside in the ground, you should move your Bicolor Iris to another spot that is receiving enough direct sun once the current position is no longer providing the required full sun.
Also, repot your Bicolor Iris also when the potting mix is no longer draining excess moisture, a situation that might lead to the plant being in stagnant water for an extended period. Use a new potting mix and pot to stop the spreading of pests and diseases. Please note that the new pot should be one size larger – at least two to three inches bigger than the current one.
The bicolor Iris is toxic to pets and human beings. Keep the plant out of reach of dogs, cats, and children.
Should Bicolor Iris be deadheaded after blooming?
Deadheading Bicolor Iris after blooming helps promote new growth and prevents seed formation, resulting in healthier plants and more blooms.
How often do you divide Bicolor Iris?
Bicolor Iris should be divided every 3-4 years to maintain their vigor and prevent overcrowding, leading to better flowering.
Are coffee grounds good for Bicolor Iris?
Coffee grounds can provide some benefits to Bicolor Iris, such as adding organic matter to the soil and improving drainage. However, moderation is key, as excessive use may affect soil pH.
You have learned all the care tips for parenting your Bicolor Iris. You are now confident enough to get your new plant today and put what is at your fingertips into practice.
Here is a summary of the main ideas.
- The Bicolor Iris thrives well in dappled to full sunlight.
- The plant grows vigorously in high temperatures that are above 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You should apply a well-balanced liquid NPK fertilizer that is diluted to half-strength once or twice a month.
- The Bicolor Iris can be propagated using seeds or by dividing rhizomes.
- The plant loves water and sun so it should be irrigated two or three times a week.
It’s now time to gain experience and become an expert in caring for the Bicolor Iris. Get your new plant today and add a vibrant touch to your house. Enjoy your gardening!
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