South Africa Plant LifeThe Dietes bicolour
As part of the beautiful Iridaceae family, the Dietes bicolour is also known as yellow wild iris, peacock flower and "uintjie". Five of the six species of Dietes are naturally found in South Africa, including the D. bicolour.
Dietes adorns the hills and occupies the dappled areas under tall trees in several of the local provinces. This is a cute flower that is bright and cheerful, making for an ideal garden bloom.
The Dietes bicolour is known for its pretty yellow or cream flowers with brown markings (hence its name, which refers to its two-coloured petals). The leaves are long and narrow (only about 1.5 centimetres wide), forming groups of erect ‘swords’. The fruit of this plant resembles a club in shape, and reaches about 2.5 centimetres in diameter. It contains seeds, which are released for natural dispersion when the pod splits.
The Dietes bicolour flowers during the spring and summer seasons. Each flower lasts only a day or two and should, therefore, not be picked; but allowed to display their beauty on the plant unhindered. They flower continuously between October and January, ensuring that the plant is always adorned in pretty blooms during this time, even with the short life-span of the individual flowers.
Use in the garden
While the Dietes bicolour might not have medicinal uses, it is an attractive, delicate flower that adds a real prettiness to the garden. The nectar in the flowers attracts pollinators like bees, who drink the nectar and, in doing so, cover their backs in pollen. As they travel from flower to flower, they cross-pollinate the plants effectively. These little diners attract birds that eat insects as part of their diet, which delight onlookers with their beautiful colours and the sounds they bring to the home.
Indigenous to South Africa, the Dietes bicolour is found in KwaZulu-Natal, the southern part of the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.
Growing Dietes bicolour in your garden
This plant grows best in full sun along the coast and partial shade as one moves further inland. It is sensitive to frost and drought, being somewhat less hardy than its D. grandiflora counterpart. It grows in most soil types and is, generally speaking, free of pests and diseases.
The beautiful Dietes bicolour’s rhizome can be split from the main plant clump. This is best done in autumn, after the flowering season is complete. The seeds of this plant germinate easily when in moist conditions and sown in autumn and spring. It is particularly well suited to mass planting, making for lovely ground cover and accent plants to complement others. It should be watered regularly in summer and the soil should be enriched with compost for optimal results, but they grow rather easily even in compromised situations.
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