Dietes plant, often referred to as the African iris, is a genus of monocotyledonous flowering plants in the family Iridaceae. It comprises seven species native to Africa, Madagascar and Australia, with two species introduced in Indonesia and two in South America. Dietes plant species produce showy irises that are typically used in mass plantings and borders. In addition, they add interest and texture to xeriscapes and rock gardens.
The Dietes plant has three slender, linear leaves that grow in a fan shape at the base of the plant. The leaves range from 10 to 40 inches in length and are green in color. The flowers of the Dietes plant are white with yellow center markings. They have three petals and often open in the morning but close in the afternoon. The blooms typically occur in pairs and last for about one day.
Dietes plants grow best in well-drained soil and in full sun. They are quite tolerant of drought and wind, and can even tolerate salt spray. Dietes plants should be spaced at least 18 to 24 inches apart to allow for healthy growth and air circulation. They should also be fed every three to four weeks with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer.
It is important to trim off any dead or damaged leaves and flower stalks to promote healthy growth. To keep the Dietes plant looking its best, it should be divided every 2-3 years in the early spring before active growth begins. Propagation is fairly easy and can be done by division or from seed.