African iris is a great all-purpose plant for home landscapes in Zones 8 and above. Its sturdy, reed-like foliage is evergreen and a wonderful accent plant in the landscape. Count on bright white flowers to decorate the clumps of 2- to 4-foot-tall plants from spring to fall. Call on African iris to add color and texture to tough landscaping areas, such as parking strips, flanking driveways, and dry patches near a home's foundation. It stands up to heat, drought, and neglect.
African Iris Care Must-Knows
Plant container-grown plants or divisions from a friend in the spring. African iris grows best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. It will tolerate several hours of shade but requires at least 6 hours of bright sun to bloom well. Water plants regularly for the first growing season after planting. Once established, African iris requires very little maintenance and rarely needs supplemental watering. If clumps become crowded, don't hesitate to divide plants in spring. Use a sharp spade to slice the rhizomes apart.
Cool Weather Options
Grow African iris as an annual in Zones 7 and below. Enjoy the bright white blooms in container gardens or planting beds for the season and replant the following year. You can overwinter African iris rhizomes by digging them up before the first fall frost. Allow the rhizomes to dry in a cool, dry place for about a week before packing them in peat moss for storage over winter. Replant in the spring when the soil warms.
Plant African Iris With:
Known as a symbol of remembrance and friendship, rosemary fills a garden with aroma, flavor, and activity—busily pollinating bees love the blooms. This herb comes in various forms, from stiff and upright (ideal for a hedge planting) to mounded and spreading (perfect for scrambling along a slope or wall). The secret to beautiful rosemary is to give plants a hot, dry footing. Grow plants in well-drained soil or a raised bed and surround them gravel mulch for best results. Rosemary thrives in containers, too. In the coldest zones, overwinter rosemary in an unheated room with a fan. Protect overwintering plants from extreme humidity—too high can favor powdery mildew. However, too low humidity can cause plants to drop leaves.
There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage, but they all tend to share beautiful, tall flower spikes and attractive, often gray-green leaves. Countless sages (including the herb used in cooking) are available to decorate ornamental gardens, and new selections appear annually. They are valued for their very long season of bloom, right up until frost. Not all are hardy in cold climates, but they are easy to grow as annuals. On square stems, clothed with often-aromatic leaves, sages carry dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, and reds that mix well with other perennials in beds and borders. Provide full sun or very light shade in well-drained average soil.
Verbena is a spreading plant ideal for cascading over retaining walls, pots, baskets, and window boxes. As long as the soil is extremely well-drained, verbena will reward gardeners with countless clusters of small blooms all season. It's fairly drought-tolerant, making it a great choice for hanging baskets, rock gardens, planting in cracks between stones, and other tight places. One annual verbena, 'Imagination', is a standout for handling the hottest, driest conditions. It will even do well in a clay strawberry pot!