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The African iris, or Fortnight lily as it is also known, is a vigorous clumping perennial that reaches 4 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide. It produces large white flowers with purple and yellow markings that are the showiest of the fortnight lily species. Plants are often more robust than expected and can outgrow small planting areas after several years; large plants can be divided in fall. This species of fortnight lily is the most commonly planted in the Inland Empire where it has proven to be a highly adaptable and tough plant that tolerates a variety of soil types, sun and heat.

Several cultivars can be found a local nurseries, inducing: D. g.'Variegata' produces pale green leaves that have creamy stripes. It has white flowers with light purple and golden-yellow markings, and brown spots at the base of the petals. D. g 'Lemon Drops' grows 24-36 in. tall and has a lemon-yellow spot and speckled brown dots at the base of creamy-white petals.

Water Needs

The African iris grows well in sunny locations on many types of soils and with regular summer water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; summer water helps sustain its recurring flowering performance.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 4

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 17"-24"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Perennial
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Robust, Clumping
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 4 ft.
Width: 3 ft.
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Summer, Spring, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Loam, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Frost, All day sun, Partial sun
Function: Residential spaces, Parks and open space, Near pools and water features, Grouped, Foundations, Flowering accent plant, Container plant, Commercial spaces, Civic spaces, Borders, Background plant


Divide in fall every 3-4 years to control size and keep looking good (4). Flowers stems continue to produce flowers for multiple years, so do not remove as quickly as you would with other plants (17). Dead head (remove) individual spent flowers as desired (S).



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