Ixia (Ixia spp.) is a beautiful spring-flowering plant belonging to the iris family, boasting star-shaped flowers in a range of colours including pink, red, white, blue and purple. It's native to South Africa, where it grows in the wild on rocky hillsides and in grasslands. A perennial plant, ixia flowers come back year after year.


Ixia has a few other common names, including African corn lily, wand flower, ixi and cornflag. It has traditionally been associated with some customs and folklore in South Africa, where it's believed to bring good luck and happiness. In UK gardens its bright, colourful blooms and sword-shaped leaves make it a popular choice for those looking for something a little different. Plus, flowering from May to June, it helps to bridge the gap between spring- and summer-flowering bulbs.

How to grow ixia

Grow ixia in well-drained soil rich in organic matter, in full sun to partial shade. When planting, ensure the soil is not waterlogged, as this can cause the bulbs to rot.

Where to grow ixia

Ixia flowers. Getty Images
Ixia flowers. Getty Images

Ixia can grow up to 50cm tall and looks best when planted in groups, as this creates a stunning visual effect. It can be grown in containers, borders, or rock gardens and is an excellent choice to grow in a Mediterranean garden scheme.

How to plant ixia bulbs

Plant ixia bulbs in pots in spring and keep in a frost-free spot such as a greenhouse or windowsill. Plant out into the garden after all risk of frost has passed, from May onwards. Plant the bulbs with the pointy side facing upwards, 10-15cm deep, spacing them 10-15cm apart.

How to care for ixia

Ixia flowers. Getty Images
Ixia flowers. Getty Images

Ixia requires minimal care once established. Water the plants regularly during the growing season but be careful not to overwater as this can cause the bulbs to rot. Ixia doesn’t require regular pruning.

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As ixia bulbs are not frost hardy, lift them from the ground in autumn to store over winter. Carefully dig up the bulbs, taking care not to damage them. Shake off any excess soil and allow the bulbs to dry in a well-ventilated area for a day or two. Once dry, remove any remaining foliage or debris, and then store the bulbs in a cool, dry place, such as a paper bag or a mesh bag, to prevent them from rotting or drying out. Then simply replant them after all risk of frost has passed, in spring.

How to propagate ixia

As a bulbous perennial, ixia naturally clumps up, and so can be propagated by division. The easiest time to do this is in autumn, when you dig the bulbs up for winter storage. Simply separate the bulbs and replant as new clumps in spring.

Pests and diseases

In general, ixias are not known to be prone to any major diseases. The young foliage may be nibbled by slugs and snails, so use preventative measures if necessary.

Advice on buying ixia

  • Always look for firm, plump bulbs that are free from blemishes or soft spots
  • If you're buying plants, look for healthy, vigorous growth with no signs of pests or diseases
  • It's also important to choose a reputable supplier when buying ixia. Look for suppliers that specialise in bulbs or rare plants and check online reviews before making your purchase

Where to buy ixia online

Varieties of ixia

Ixia viridiflora – a species native to South Africa, known for its greenish-yellow flowers with brown markings

Ixia polystachya – a species with vibrant white, star-shaped flowers and yellow centres

Ixia maculata – a species with bright orange flowers that have deep red spots at the base of each petal

Ixia grandiflora – a species with large, showy flowers that come in a range of colours, including pink, purple, and white

Ixia rapunculoides – a species with delicate, white flowers that have a distinctive bell shape

Ixia monadelpha – a species with bright red flowers that are arranged in dense clusters along the stem

Ixia Mixed – there are many different hybrids of ixia available, which can come in a wide range of colours and flower shapes