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What is Ipheion?

Vasanth S.
Vasanth S.

Ipheion is a plant genus that is part of the Liliaceae family. It consists of about ten species of perennial plants that are native to South America. Most of the species feature leaves that are onion-scented when crushed, and star shaped flowers that are honey-scented. This is a versatile genus that can be utilized for a number of applications including flower beds, border plants, and rock gardens. The Ipheion genus is susceptible to insect damage, especially from slugs and snails.

This genus is commonly called the spring starflower, which aptly describes the shape and bloom time of the flowers. Some hybrid species have a slight variation of the common name. For example, a hybrid of Ipheion uniflorum is referred to as spring starflower "Rolf Fiedler." Another hybrid of the same species is called spring starflower "Wisley Blue."

Of the ten species in this genus, only Ipheion uniflorum is cultivated. It is native to Argentina. Other species in this genus, including Ipheion sessile, are native to Uruguay.

Ipheion attracts butterflies.
Ipheion attracts butterflies.

I. uniflorum typically grows to 6 inches (15 cm) in height and spreads a similar length. It features blue, star-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring. The narrow, strap-like leaves are about 10 inches (25 cm) long. This is a deciduous plant, so the leaves fall off during the winter.

The plant is commonly used in flower beds and borders. The sweet scent of the flowers attracts butterflies to the garden. As groundcover, I. uniflorum can be planted under trees to cover the bare ground. The onion scent given off when the leaf is broken may hinder the use of the plant near walkways.

This genus of plants can grow in various soil types including clay, loamy, and sandy soil. The pH of the soil isn't a concern either, since most of the species in this genus can thrive in both acidic and alkaline conditions. As long as the soil is fertile and has adequate drainage, the plants will grow well.

Generally, Ipheion plants are grown in an area that is exposed to direct sunlight. This genus won't tolerate shade. Also, this genus is vulnerable to frost damage during the winter. The area should be somewhat protected from the elements.

Most of the species in this genus are damaged by slugs and snails. They usually feed on the leaves and shoots of the plant. A slimy substance is usually left behind as the slug or snail crawls on the plant.

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    • Ipheion attracts butterflies.
      By: Mark_VB
      Ipheion attracts butterflies.