Sparaxis: how to plant and care in open ground

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Sparaxis: how to plant and care in open ground
Sparaxis: how to plant and care in open ground

Description of the sparaxis plant, recommendations for planting and caring for a personal plot, breeding methods, combating diseases and pests, curious notes for gardeners, species and varieties.

Sparaxis (Sparaxis) is attributed by boots to the genus that is part of the Iridaceae family. This genus has united the representatives of the flora grown both in greenhouses and as ornamental crops in gardens. All species that make up the genus are of African natural origin, or rather their native habitat belongs to the Cape region in the south of the continent. According to the information provided by the Plant List database, there are only 15 species of sparaxis, and one of them was introduced to California, where it was successfully adapted. To date, breeders have bred a large number of varieties that are dearly loved among Russian gardeners.

Family name Iris
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeds Baby corms, seeds
Open ground transplant terms Depends on the region of cultivation: with mild winters it is held in October, with cold winters - early-mid May
Landing rules Between corms 10 cm, between rows 10 cm
Priming Nutritious loam, but can grow in poorer soil
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (normal)
Illumination level Well lit area
Humidity level After planting and during drought - abundant watering, in extreme heat - evening spraying
Special care rules Top dressing is recommended to improve flowering
Height options 0.15-0.6 m
Flowering period Directly depends on the time of planting corms - May-June, occasionally in August
Type of inflorescences or flowers Spicate
Color of flowers The petals have a snow-white, red or purple hue, there are specimens with burgundy and other colors. The core is always contrasting - yellow or purple, burgundy or other tone
Fruit type Oblong achene
Seed color Brown or grayish black
The timing of fruit ripening After flowering - from July to August
Decorative period Summer
Application in landscape design Rock gardens, hanging containers and flowerpots, in the foreground of mixborders
USDA zone 5–9

The plant bears its name thanks to the word in Greek "sparax", which means "splitting at the ends of the bracts", which perfectly characterizes the outlines of this part of the sparaxis.

All species are perennials characterized by a herbaceous form of growth and the presence of corms. The height of the stems varies in the range from 15 to 60 cm, although in their native lands of growth, settling in the coastal lands of lakes or rivers, these indicators are much higher (almost up to a meter), but the plants have long been adapted to weather conditions in colder countries. The leaf plates of sparaxis have belt-like or lanceolate outlines, their surface is strongly elongated, which makes it similar to ribbons, naked, sinewy and smooth. The color of the foliage is a rich dark green color scheme.

In the period from late May to early July, flowering begins, but usually this time will depend directly on when the corms were planted. It happens that the buds can bloom on August days. Sparaxis peduncles have a herbaceous hue, bare surface, fleshy and elastic in appearance.At their tops, an inflorescence is formed, which has a spike-like structure. The color of the petals is very bright, which is why the plant becomes an adornment of any garden plot. The general background of the petals is painted in a snow-white, red or purple hue, there are specimens with burgundy and other colors. What is remarkable about the sparaxis flower is that its core always contrasts with the petals. Its color can be yellow or lilac, burgundy or other tones. There are varieties in which the color is not monochromatic, but on the petals there is a pattern of branched venation of a darker color.

Corolla of flowers with funnel-shaped or star-shaped outlines, this directly depends on the type or variety of sparaxis. With full disclosure, the flower can reach 5 cm in diameter. At the tops of the bracts, there is a splitting. The perianth is characterized by the shape of a funnel, and the column of the pistil protrudes from its tube, since it is short in size compared to it. Slightly curled stigmas have solid outlines. After the sparaxis flowers are pollinated, the fruits ripen in the form of achenes. This period is also ambiguous, like flowering, but usually falls on a time from July-August. The seeds are small, oval in shape with a pointed end. Their color is dark brown or black.

In order to grow this warm African representative of the flora in your garden, you will have to work hard, because, despite the origin, sparaxis does not like too much drought and heat, but if everything works out, then such a plant will be a real highlight of any flower bed, decoration of a terrace or balcony.

Sparaxis: recommendations for planting and growing outdoors

Sparaxis blooms
  1. Landing place this southern heat-loving plant should be well lit and protected from cold gusts of wind. The proximity of the groundwater table is not encouraged.
  2. Soil for sparaxis it is recommended to select a well-drained and rich substance useful for growth. Nutritious loams, mixed with river sand and organic fertilizers, are preferred. The acidity of the soil should remain neutral with a pH of 6, 5–7. If there is no peat in the soil, then the growth rate will be very slow, flowering will not occur, and in general the plant may die.
  3. Storage sparaxis tubers in winter should be started by digging them in the autumn months. The signal for this is the yellowing of the foliage of the bush. All corms must be carefully removed from the soil after flowering and cleaned from the remains of the substrate. Before storage, children are not separated from the corms of sparaxis, this is carried out just before planting in the spring. After digging, the bulbs are put to dry; at the end of the process, the remnants of dried leaves can be torn off. After that, the corms are placed in boxes, shifting with straw, peat chips or dry sawdust. The place where the sparaxis tubers will be stored until spring should be dry and provided with ventilation. Temperature readings during the storage period should remain in the range of 8-9 degrees. If these requirements do not change, then the tubers can be stored for 2-3 years without losing their properties. During the storage period, it is recommended to periodically inspect the sparaxis corms in order to timely identify rotten or dried specimens that are removed. When the time comes to spring and it is planned to plant corms, it is necessary to increase the temperature in the room to 25-27 degrees and wait for the end of spring frosts.
  4. Planting sparaxis corms held when the frost is no longer to return. When planted in spring, flowering will begin in the middle of summer. For the bulbs, holes are dug no more than 5–6 cm deep. The location of the holes should be heaped.If bulbs of low-growing species are planted, then a planting scheme of 4x4 cm is maintained, for tall varieties this parameter should be brought to 10x10 cm.When planting corms after storage in the winter period around April-May, the flowering of such specimens should be expected only with the arrival of August, but this process stretches to the very frost. In the southern regions, planting can be in autumn - in mid-October. Sparaxis corms die when the temperature drops to -1 degrees below zero. When grown in southern regions, corms need not be dug up for storage. At the end of autumn, it is recommended to cover the trimmed sparaxis bushes with a good layer of mulch, its thickness should be 5–7 cm. This material can be fallen leaves, spruce branches or peat chips. When spring comes, the mulch is raked off, and at the cultivation site of this African plant a small amount of humus is scattered over the surface of the soil, in a layer of 1–2 cm, after which the soil must be moistened. When planting sparaxis in the fall, some gardeners dig holes for corms to a depth of 10–12 cm, then mulching on top of the substrate with peat chips or humus. But this is possible only when grown in the southern regions, due to the fact that the temperature inside the soil in the hole during the winter will not drop below zero, which will help preserve the planted material.
  5. Sparaxis indoors. If you want not to store the corms, but enjoy the bright colors throughout the winter months, it is recommended to plant the bulbs in small pots (about 2-3 liters), placing 3-4 pieces in each container. Planted sparaxis bulbs should be watered and placed on a windowsill in a well-lit place, but it is important to provide protection from drafts. Flowering will begin 3-4 months after planting. However, care will require regular spraying and verified watering, since flowering in dry and hot air is impossible.
  6. Watering when caring for sparaxis, it is necessary to carry out especially carefully when the weather is hot and dry - 2-3 times a week. But it is important that the soil has time to dry out between humidifications, it should not be allowed to acidify, since this will provoke fungal diseases. It is recommended to use water for irrigation well-separated and heated by the sun. If there are very hot days, then in the evening it is recommended to spray the sparaxis bushes with warm water. This will help the buds to remain large, as high temperatures and low humidity lead to their crushing and a decrease in the number of flowers formed.
  7. Fertilizers when growing sparaxis, it must be applied every 30 days to maintain growth and subsequent flowering. When the budding process is in progress, you should use complex mineral preparations for flowering plants (for example, Fertiku or Kemiru-Lux), dissolving 15–20 grams of the product in 10 liters of water. For the entire season, it is recommended to feed 3-4 times, and when the flowering is over, the fertilizers are no longer used.
  8. General advice on care. Like other flowering plants in the garden, when cultivating sparaxis, it will not hurt to loosen the soil next to the bush after watering or precipitation, weeding from weeds, timely removal of peduncles that have withered and damaged leaf plates. Dead flowers removed in time will stimulate the formation of new buds.
  9. The use of sparaxis in landscape design. These southern plants look best for mass planting. If the bushes are placed singly, then the beauty of their flowers can be lost among other representatives of the "blooming fraternity". In group plantings, it is possible to create unique flower arrangements exclusively from Sparaxis thanks to the unlimited colors of the inflorescences.However, since by the middle of summer some types of sparaxis finish their flowering and begin to go into a dormant state, care should be taken to replace the voids that have formed in the flower bed. Phlox and thyme, stonecrop and tigridia can act as such "substitutes". You can combine these summer flowers with ground cover crops or lawn grasses to create a spectacular natural lawn. Sparaxis will also look good in rock gardens when filling the space between stones or in the foreground of mixborders. Some undersized species and varieties can be planted in garden containers and decorated with them on terraces and balconies. Also, such flowers look good in the near-stem circles of small trees or shrubs with an evergreen crown.

Read also about planting and caring for babiana at home and outdoors.

Sparaxis breeding methods

Sparaxis in the ground

This African representative of the flora has the ability to propagate either vegetatively (separating young corms from the mother tuber) or sowing seeds.

Reproduction of sparaxis by corms

Over time, next to the corms of an adult plant, there is a build-up of children - small corms, which can serve as planting material. During the transplant, they are separated and disembarked at the selected and prepared place in the flower bed. In this case, flowering can be expected after 2–3 years from the moment of planting. When planting, the holes for the corms are dug at a distance of 10 cm from each other, and if it is planned to arrange the sparaxis in rows, then the row spacing should be the same distance. All traces of fractures must be carefully sprinkled with crushed charcoal powder.


You should not deal with the separation of children from the mother's corms in the autumn, before sending them for winter storage. During this period of time, which is six months, they can dry out greatly and then will not be suitable for planting.

Propagation of sparaxis using seeds

This process will require a lot of effort and skill, as well as time from the gardener. They are not sown in open ground, but they are growing seedlings. For germination, boxes with a height of about 7-10 cm are used. The soil mixture is selected nutritious and loose - it is mixed from river sand, peat chips and humus. Growing requires warm and humid indoor conditions.

The seeds are spread over the surface of the soil and lightly powdered with the same soil on top. Alternatively, the sparaxis seed can be embedded in the soil 5–10 mm deep. During germination, the container is covered with a plastic transparent film, and so the crops are kept until sprouts appear. When leaving, regular moistening of the soil is necessary when drying and ventilating. It is better to water the bottom (through the pan) or spray the crops from above with warm water from a fine spray.

After the first shoots of sparaxis appear (after about 20-30 days), thinning is recommended. It is carried out in such a way that 2x2 cm remains between the plants. Then the seedlings are grown to a height of 5–8 cm and only then are they transplanted into the open ground, provided that it is well warmed up, and return frosts are completely bypassed. The first flowering of young sparaxis can be expected only after 3 years from the moment of sowing the seeds. Usually in the first year there is an increase in the green mass and the corm itself, so there is no need to wait for buds and flowers. When growing, to decorate a flower bed, the distance between seedlings should be kept about 45 cm, and for cutting, this parameter is reduced to 15 cm.

Disease and Pest Control in Sparaxis Care

Sparaxis is growing

Gardeners can be pleased with the fact that the plant has a high resistance to many diseases and harmful insects.However, it happens that with regular violation of the rules of agricultural technology, the following problems arise:

  • Fusarium has a fungal origin and signs of it are yellow spots on the leaves of sparaxis, the foliage curls, the buds become drooping, brown spots form on the peduncles.
  • Gray rot also cause fungi, is manifested by the formation of plaque on the stems or leaves, reminiscent of a fluffy gray coating. The affected parts of the sparaxis soften and die off. Rotted bulbs also die.

The cause of these fungal diseases is: thickened planting, waterlogging of the soil at high temperatures, acidic and heavy substrate. For treatment, it is recommended to carry out treatment with fungicidal preparations, such as Previkur, Kuproskat or Oxyhom.

In rare cases, from increased dryness and heat, pests can attack the sparaxis bushes:

  1. Spider mite, sucking the nutritious juices from the leaves of the plant, then they begin to dry out along the edge and lose their color, as a result they fly around, the whole bush is braided by a whitish thin cobweb, and if measures are not taken, then the plant dies.
  2. Thrips, feeding on cell sap, which they also suck from leaves, pollen and nectar. Signs of the appearance of a pest on sparaxis are the deformed outlines of not only buds and buds, but also flowers, the foliage is covered with yellowish necrotic spots. The symptoms of infestation by these pests are practically indistinguishable, with the exception of the cobweb in the first case, therefore it is recommended in any case, to treat with insecticidal preparations such as Karbofos, Aktara or Actellik.
  3. Medvedki, gnawing corms and causing rotting and death of bushes. To fight, you should dig holes near the sparaxis plantings and put fresh horse manure there. For wintering, pests will creep into such places, and with the arrival of spring, they will all immediately be able to be destroyed.

The problem with growing sparaxis is the lack of iron, from which chlorosis appears, in which the leaves lose their rich color, become pale, and on the veins the color, on the contrary, acquires a bright green color. The foliage gradually turns yellow and flies around. If such symptoms are found, it is recommended to carry out root and foliar (by leaves) feeding with iron-containing preparations in a chelated form, for example, Mr. Color-Antichlorosis.

The plant will suffer from a lack of sunlight or a sudden cold snap.

Read also about protecting crocuses from possible pests and diseases when gardening

Curious notes for gardeners about sparaxis

Sparaxis bloom

If we talk about this African plant, then in Greece it was believed that it is "a flower of joy and sun". They planted such flowers near houses and even decorated terraces or balconies so that they would attract happiness and prosperity to the monastery. Therefore, it was customary to plant hundreds of such blooming stars in the yards.

Types and varieties of sparaxis

In the photo Sparaxis tricolor

Sparaxis tricolor (Sparaxis tricolor)

occurs under the name Sparaxis tricolor or Ixia tricolor… With its stems it reaches a height of about half a meter. It is the most common species among Russian gardeners. The leaf plates and the flower-bearing stem reach equal lengths. The leaves are xiphoid. The foliage frames the peduncle with great grace. 5-7 buds bloom on it, the petals of which can have a monochromatic or two-color color.

The flowers of the plant are characterized by very graceful outlines. The petals in the corolla are painted in a variety of shades (snow-white, red, crimson or yellow), while the middle always remains in a contrasting tone. Sparaxis tricolor is characterized by the presence of a ring of charcoal black or deep brown color, which serves to separate the background on the petals from the saturated core.At the same time, the transitions do not differ in smoothness, but have clear edges.

This species has a large number of varieties with decorative properties, and is usually sold as a mix:

  • Lord of Fire or Fire King, a distinctive feature of which is the rich scarlet color of the petals and the black core.
  • Striped the tricolor sparaxis variety with flowers, in which the petals are striking in color, in it the overflows of a bright orange hue are comparable to tongues of flame, while there is a contrast with a bright yellow central part.
  • Low-growing mix (mix), uniting plants, the stems of which do not reach more than 15 cm, while the peduncles are decorated with flowers of red, yellow and snow-white colors.
In the photo Sparaxis Bulbifer

Sparaxis bulbifera (Sparaxis bulbifera)

commonly known as Harlequin flower, is a bulbous perennial plant. This species is native to the Cape Province of South Africa and naturalized in the Azores and Australia. Stems rise up to 15-60 cm in height, the color of the petals in flowers of white, yellowish or cream tones.

In the photo, Sparaxis is graceful

Sparaxis elegant

in height it can vary from 10-15 cm, but some specimens reach 30 cm. The color of the petals is in flowers of a rich orange hue, which lightens slightly towards the base. Then, in the corolla at the central part, a dark purple ring is visible, after which there is a purple-purple central center, while the stamens have a snow-white color.

In the photo Sparaxis Grandiflora

Sparaxis grandiflora

it is distinguished by its tallness and dark green shade of leaves. Their outlines are belt-like, juicy. They gracefully frame the flowering stems. Peduncles adorn inflorescences composed of flowers of various colors, here the petals can be snow-white, purple, lilac or yellow and yellowish-white. It is characterized by a very strong aroma. For this feature, the species is often called fragrant Sparaxis. Among the varieties, the most popular are:

  • Superba capable of reaching a height of 25–30 cm. The inflorescence, which takes a spike-like shape, is formed by 5–7 buds. The flower, when fully expanded, reaches 5 cm in diameter. The corolla petals of this sparaxis variety can be characterized by a white or yellow color, but orange, purple tones are also present. The core is always black or yellow. The flower has a star-shaped opening.
  • Sunny day or sunny day - the name was given because of the color of the flowers, which takes on a lemon-cream hue and has a fuzzy edging at the base of the petals. The borders of the middle of the yellow color scheme also lack clarity. At the bottom of each petal in the center there is a pattern of stripes of light purple color.
  • Moonlight or Moonlight - a variety of sparaxis, named because of the flowers with whitish-lilac petals, the surface of which, as if painted with strokes of dark purple, scarlet or deep pink tones. The core is yellow and the stamens are dark in color.

Related article: Crocosmia and its types.

Video about growing sparaxis in open ground:

Photos of sparaxis:

Photo of Sparaxis 1 Photo of Sparaxis 2 Photo of Sparaxis 3 Photo of Sparaxis 4 Sparaxis Photo 5

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