INFORMATION ABOUT BLACKBERRY LILY…
By: Nikki Phipps
Image by Li-Ji Originally from China, Japan and India, the 1-to 3-foot tall Blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinesis ) has flat, pointed, sword-like leaves w ith lily-like flowers on wiry stems. When the orange and dark spotted blooms give way to the clusters of ripened fruits, they open up, revealing the black seeds inside. These clusters resemble blackberries, giving credence behind its name.
Blackberry lilies are also commonly known as Leopard flowers, most likely due to its spots. This beautiful rhizomatous plant is called a lily; however, it is actually in the Iris family.
Found growing naturally along roadsides and fields, the flowers last only a day; however, there are many buds on a stalk. Blackberries lilies will generally bloom better in full sun but will tolerate light shade. Plant the rhizomes at least an inch deep in well-drained soil. This can be done in spring or early fall.
A care-free plant, the hardy blackberry lily requires little in the way of maintenance. They should be watered well during active growth, but the soil should be allowed to dry in between watering intervals so as not to encourage the rotting of its rhizomes.
Blackberry lilies consist of two species, the orange-colored B. chinensis being the most widely available of the two and B. flabellata (‘Hello Yellow’) with its pure yellow flowers. B. flabellata prefers more shade and water than B. chinensis.
Blooming throughout summer, the berries remain in winter and are attractive as decorative dried arrangements in fall. Blackberry lilies are suitable for growing in containers in nearly any climate.
Blackberry lilies look great with other summer-blooming plants such as baby’s breath, liatris, daisies, and daylilies. Incorporating blackberry lilies into mixed beds and borders is a wonderful way to add color and variety in the landscape.
The plants are evergreen in warmer climates but deciduous farther north in cooler regions. Place protective mulch over the plants in the fall, except in areas with mild winters. In extremely cold climates, the rhizomes can be lifted from the garden, or left in their containers, and stored in a frost-free area over winter.
Propagation is by seeds or through division of the clumped rhizomes in spring or late summer. Plants from seed will usually bloom in the first year. Blackberry lilies often self sow as well, but the seedlings are easily weeded out.
Iris borer can be a problem; however, removing dead or dying leaves may help to keep damage under control. Also important to mention is the fact that some parts of the plant are known to be poisonous, if ingested; therefore, care should be taken if growing blackberry lilies around young children or pets.