What is Ixia?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Also known as the African corn lily, ixia plants come from the Iridaceae, or iris, family. Over 50 species of the types of plants exist. The aesthetically pleasing plants typically bloom in the spring, and feature several shades of star-shaped flowers.

Bees are attracted to ixia flowers.
Bees are attracted to ixia flowers.

People who wish to cultivate a spring garden with a wide variety of colors may opt to utilize ixia plants. Red, turquoise, pink, white, and yellow plants of this genus are all available. Orange and green hues may be found as well. Fully grown ixias may grow up to 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 centimeters) in height.

Flowers that grow from these cormous plants are either star or bell-shaped. The inner center of the flowers is sometimes a much darker hue than the surrounding petals. Their leaves are long and grassy, and their flower stalks are spiky and vibrant. Flowers hang from very thin stems.

Growing these ornamental flowers requires planting their bulbs, usually in the fall season. The bulb should be placed with the pointed end facing up, and the rounded end on the bottom. Full sun is recommended when growing ixia plants. The flowers can thrive in partial shade as well. When planting multiple bulbs, they should be spaced several inches apart.

A generally recommended space is 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) between each plant. Bulbs should be planted 2 inches (5 centimeters) below the surface of the soil. Most people choose to grow the plants in container gardens or hanging baskets, though they may be cultivated outdoors as well. If used outdoors, the flowers can attract a multitude of pleasant wildlife and garden aids, such as honeybees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Ixias are half-hardy flowers, and their care is considered to be similar to that of a crocus. Planting in a mixture of potting soil and sand is recommended for optimal growth. In addition to planting ixias in the garden, people can often enjoy buying or sending them as cut flowers from select florists. The flowers' pleasant aroma and appearance have led them to become popular choices for gifting.

Not limited to cormous plants, Ixia does have other meanings. Ixia Bay is a popular tourist destination in Greece. The word is also used to represent an IP testing business, a clothing brand, and a floral arrangement company. It is also the name of a region in the popular novel trilogy, Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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