Irislike plants with fans of stiff, narrow, evergreen leaves; form dense, long-lasting clumps. Flowers resembling small Japanese irises consist of three outer and three inner segments; they appear on branched stalks throughout spring, summer, and fall, and sometimes well into winter in mild climates. Bloom bursts seem to occur at 2-week intervals, hence the common name fortnight lily. Flowers come in solid colorswhite, cream, yellow; each of the three outer segments features a small contrasting blotch of orange, yellow, or brown. Each flower lasts only a day, but the supply of flowers on a stem is seemingly endless. Excellent in permanent landscape plantings with pebbles and rocks, shrubs, and other long-lived perennials.
D. bicolor. From South Africa. Stems 23 ft. tall. Flowers about 2 in. wide and circular in outline, light yellow with dark brown-to-maroon blotches. Flower stems last only 1 year.
D. hybrids. Both 'Lemon Drops' and 'Orange Drops' are hybrids of D. bicolor and resemble it save for flower color. 'Lemon Drops' is ivory with yellow blotches, 'Orange Drops' ivory with orange blotches. As is true for their other parent, D. iridioides, these hybrids' flower stems last more than a year; for care see D. iridioides. 'Katrina' has improved tolerance to heavy, poorly drained soils and resistance to root and crown diseases.
D. iridioides (D. vegeta, Moraea iridioides). From East Africa. Stems to 2 ft. tall. Waxy white flowers to 3 in. across have yellow-orange blotches and a few orange marks at bases of inner three segments. Three style armsappendages radiating from flower's centerare usually pale violet. To prolong bloom and prevent self-sowing, break off blossoms individually. Don't cut flower stems (they last for more than a year) until they clearly have stopped producing blooms; then cut back to lower leaf joint near base of stem.
Plant from containers at any time of year, setting plants 23 ft. apart. All types look best with good soil and regular moisture, but once established they perform satisfactorily even in poor soil or with infrequent or erratic watering. Clumps can remain undisturbed for years; when you need to divide, do so in fall or winter.