Ixia genus

Ixia is a member of the Iridaceae family

South Africa Plant LifeThe Ixia genus

One of the many members of the Iridaceae family, the Ixia comprises a host of different members under its umbrella.

The Ixia grows from a corm rootstock, which is similar to a bulb. Of course, each specific Ixia is a little different, especially in terms of its flower colour and structure.

Quick Facts


The genus, as a whole, is characterised by leaves that resemble a sword shape long and narrow. The stems that hold the flowers are long and thin and the blooms are distinctly star-shaped. The plant can reach 500 millimetres to about a metre in height. The Green Ixia is known for its spectacular flowers, excellent for showing off the wonders of nature in your garden.

Flowering time

The Ixia usually flowers during the winter months (some begin in the late autumn), and remains dormant through the hot summer season. However, some variations need the warmth and sunshine of the early spring for their flowers to open.

Use in the garden

The pretty flowers of the Ixia attract bees and other insects to the garden, which restore a certain level of biodiversity and achieve eco-balance.

They also attract insect-eating birds, which make for delightful sights as they add colour and melody. The Ixia is ornamental in its appeal too, simply adding a pretty element to gardens.

Natural distribution

These South African flowers can be found in many areas of the country mainly in the western and southern parts of the country.

The Ixia viridiflora is most commonly found on the slopes of the mountains in the Western Cape town of Tulbagh. This particular type of Ixia, as well as several others, are listed as vulnerable, meaning that they are under threat of going extinct.

Growing Ixia in your garden

Ixia hybrids are very easily available, but the species that are pure may be more difficult to source. Growing the true Ixia is significantly more challenging than one of its hybrids too. Sandy soil that is well drained and dry during the dormant periods, coupled with sunny conditions are important to the success of the growth of these plants.

The corm can be planted in autumn, during the dormant stage. They do best when they have a permanent spot in the garden, but some have been known to thrive in a pot too. Protect your Ixia from windy conditions. In addition, the corm is susceptible to being eaten by mealy bugs and should be protected from such.


Naturally, Ixias are propagated by bees and insects. There are beetles that eat the pollen and nectar. The pollen sticks to their bodies and is then transferred as they visit different flowers and allow for fertilisation. Growing these flowers from seed can be quite tricky. However, in sunny conditions with well-drained sandy soils, the chances for their propagation improve.

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Did you know?

The Ixia viridiflora is listed as vulnerable, meaning that it is under threat of going extinct.

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