Ixia “Venus” – Corn Lily
Lipstick pink flowers, darker at their centre, rise on stiff, slender stems that wave in the wind.
This is a clump forming member of the Iris family (Iridaceae) that grows to about 0.8M. When this plant thrives, the corms bulk up quickly. It flowers early in spring and competes well with other border plants. The stiff narrow leaves never really die down, though it doesn’t seem right to describe it as evergreen.
Ixias come from rocky mountain slopes in the Cape Province of South Africa. The origins of “Venus” are unclear. It is reported to have been found at the San Francisco Landscape Garden Show in the 1990’s; labeled as a selection of Ixia paniculata, which is unlikely. More likely it is an unguarded hybrid, possibly of I. paniculata. It is such a stunning plant that few gardeners in New Zealand seem to feel the need to grow any other Ixia species. However, there are others in cultivation, notably the jade green I. viridiflora as well as a complex range of hybrids.
Soil / Aspect:
Ixix “Venus” likes full sun and good drainage. Often it is found thriving against a north facing house wall. It is not reported to have a particular preference for acid soils, but it certainly thrives in Karin’s garden.
A happy clump of Ixia can be divided every other year, by digging it up and pulling the corms apart. Late in the summer, when the foliage has browned-off to some extent they can be cut to the ground – or just left.