Growing Ixia For Cut Flowers

Ixia, also known as Corn Lilies, are natives of South Africa. The wiry, yet strong stems grow 15-18 in. high, each producing 6 or more flowers of striking beauty, most with a prominent dark centre, making them ideal as cut blooms. The narrow foliage is an added attraction.

They need the same pot culture as freesias, except that the receptacles are best plunged up to their rims in weathered ashes or peat and left in a sheltered position until February, when, if brought into the cool house, they will soon produce a fine show of blooms.

Out of doors, the bulbs should be planted in the autumn, 3 in. deep, in a light, loamy soil, preferably being set on silver sand. During a spell of severe weather, a covering of straw or bracken will give protection.


Ixias are best increased by offsets, while seed can be sown in heat in the spring. There are a number of species, including odorata, sandy-yellow, speciosa, crimson-red, and viridiflora, soft sea-green with a dark centre. In addition there are several good varieties, providing a splendid colour range.

Ixiolirion is the name of a small family of bulbous plants, sometimes referred to as the Ixia Lily or the Blue Altai Lily. Amid the grey-green, long, narrow leaves, there arise wiry stems about 15 in. in length, on which are produced in May and June a number of semi-funnel-shaped flowers. They like a warm, sheltered position, with a rich, well-drained, sandy soil. The bulbs, which should be planted 3 in. deep in the autumn or early spring, can be left to establish themselves, although during a severe winter a surface covering of bracken or peat is advisable. Offsets can be detached to increase stock, or seed sown in the greenhouse as soon as it is ripe.

Of the species available, I. ledebouri is bright lilac-mauve, and I. tartaricum or pallasi is deep blue. Both are ideal for cutting.

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