Blackberry lily or Leopard flower (Belamcanda chinensis)

Blackberry lily or Leopard flower (Belamcanda chinensis)

Leopard Flower is an iris-like perennial herb, with leaves in fans on branching stems. Lance-shaped leaves will reach 2 to 3 feet. Flowers are 5 cm across, borne on slender stalks, at the end of stems. They have 6 petals, yellow to orange-red, spotted with maroon or purple, which is what gave it the name leopard flower. Fruit is a black berry. The name Blackberry Lily derives from the clusters of shiny black seeds exposed when seed capsules split open. Blackberry Lilies are native to China and Japan.

    Geophyte Organ:  Rhizome
 Light Requirements: Full-AM Sun

 Height: 30-36 inches (75-90 cm)

 Flowering Season: Summer

 Flower Color: Orange with purple spots

 Planting Time: Spring

 Planting Depth: 5 inches (12.5 cm)

 Spacing Between Rhizomes: 6 inches (15 cm)

 Hardiness: Semi-hardy - injured below 28°F (-2°C)

 Bulb Storage: Store corms in dry sand at 35-41°F (2-5°C)

 Comments: Iris-like foliage; round, black seeds that resemble blackberries; seeds persist; prefers well-drained soil; drought tolerant

A Blackberry Lily can be grown from rootstock or planted as a seed. The most common method of propagation is to divide and plant mature root stock. Blackberry Lily seeds should be planted several weeks before the final frost occurs to allow time for germination. The seedlings of this plant typically appear in early spring and blossoming generally occurs in mid summer. The brightly colored blossoms of this perennial are small but very numerous.

Blackberry Lilies can be grown in either partial shade or full sun areas. Adequate soil drainage is required for these plants to prevent their roots from rotting. Poor soil will inhibit the height of this plant, but the number of its blossoms is usually unaffected by soil conditions. When planted in well drained, fertile soil, these plants will typically grow to their full 6-foot (2 m) height. Although the Blackberry Lily has a tropical look, it can be grown in cooler climates as well. In especially tropical climates, Blackberry Lilies must be replanted each year.

Blackberry Lily blossoms have only a one-day life span with a new blossom continuously replacing the previous one. This perpetual blooming process typically lasts for several weeks. When this plant is not in bloom, it is very plain and ordinary looking. Gardeners typically place the Blackberry Lily alongside other flowering plants whose blooming periods overlap it.

If the seedpods of a Blackberry Lily are allowed to remain undisturbed, the plant can sometimes become invasive through self-propagation. In order to prevent this process from occurring, the seedpods must be removed from the plant before they have an opportunity to open and release their seeds into the ground. Rather than being discarded, these decorative Blackberry-shaped seedpods are often used in ornamental flower arrangements.

How to grow Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda)

It is best to sow Belamcanda seeds outdoors in the early spring or autumn, lightly cover the seeds following sowing. If using Belamcanda root stocks then these should be planted at a depth of 5 to 8cm.

If you plan to start the growing of blackberry lily seeds indoors then sow about eight weeks before planned transplanting outdoors. The seeds should first be placed in moist soil and placed in a plastic bag, refrigerated for one week before shifting to the light.

Growth of blackberry lilies should then continue at a temperature of 19 to 29 degrees Celsius. The seedlings of Belamcanda should be planted outdoors in early spring before the last frost or in early autumn. They should be planted in either a sunny or lightly shaded area of the garden in a moist well drained soil with a pH of 5 to 7 with a spacing of about 15 to 20cm.

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