Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Pardancanda

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This Pardancanda flower's plush shades of red, burgundy, ebony, pink, and (squint a bit) orange, are only trumped by their intricate array: The longer you look, the greater the differences you see in the leopard spotting of the three larger petals compared to the darker moiré shadings of the three smaller ones.  At the right and upper-left, the tight spirals of yesterday's flowers.  Cool, eh?

 

This is just one of infinity of possibilities for Pardancanda.  Even if you start with just one clump, you'll soon have hints of the full spectrum.

 

Forms with unpatterned petals are rare and, in my experience, tend to be lemon yellow.

 

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Whatever the flowers, they all mature to exciting clusters of shiny berries.  No wonder one common name is blackberry lily.

 

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Cut the stems of berries for indoor arrangements—or expect to have volunteer seedlings. 

 

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Seeds don't come true to color, but with such possibilities, every seedling has the potential to produce flowers that are unique—and possibly, the ultimate in what pleases you most.  

 

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Either by self-seeding or ready mutation, clumps tend to produce different forms of the flowers by the time they've been in the ground a few years.  See "How to handle it: Another option—or two!" for one way to help your colony remain true to its initial colors.

 

 

Here's how to grow this easy, charming perennial:

Latin Name

x Pardancanda norrisii

Common Name

Candy lily

Family

Iridaceae, the Iris family.

What kind of plant is it?

Herbaceous perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 5 - 9. 

Habit

Sword-like foliage, similar in shape and color to that of daylily and iris but emerging up both sides of stems that arise from dense rhizomatous clumps.  Foliage of daylily and iris is basal.   

Rate of Growth

Medium to fast.

Size in ten years

A clump two feet wide and two to three feet tall in bloom. 

Texture

Iris-like and dense; the foliage isn't any more interesting than that of candy lily's sort-of look-likes, bearded iris and daylilies.

Grown for

its flowers:  These have two sets of three petals, one set somewhat shorter than the other.  Petals are held alternately, creating a gentle triangular flower shape overall.  The range of colors (lavender to rose to pink; red to orange to yellow); patterns of coloring (complex gradations of spotting, or entirely solid, or solid but with a contrasting edge, or spotted with a contrasting edge); and, often, difference in color as well as pattern from one trio of petals to the other, all combine to suggest an infinity of possibilities.   

 

its casual approach to color:  In my experience, every colony of Pardancanda eventually displays multiple colors and patterns of flowering.  This arises from gentle self-seeding, but mutation might also occur within a given clump as its rhizomes grow.  Whatever the cause, variation is inevitable.  Pardancanda is not the flower to grow if you can't welcome spontaneity.  

 

its seeds:  These are shiny black berries held in tight oblong vertical clusters, and look exactly like blackberries, hence one of this plant's common names, blackberry lily.  They are showy in the garden, and also cut well for bouquets. 

 

its durability: Pardancanda will maintain a presence in your garden indefinitely.  Individual clumps are long-lived, and the showy seeds can self-sow to establish daughter clumps nearby as well as farther afield in your garden.  In my experience, Pardancanda is a welcome volunteer, not a self-seeding terror.

Flowering season

July into August: Pardancanda is a welcome presence at the height of Summer.  

Color combinations

With its inherent tendency to produce flowers of different colors and patterns, seemingly from the very same clump, Pardancanda is the flower to use when you and your planting scheme can both use a little loosening-up.  Many years ago, I bought a flat from a wholesaler, and planted them willy-nilly through the garden until I could identify which plants were which colors.  I then repositioned accordingly: pink and rose into the pink garden, orange and red into the red gardens, yellow reserved for the (someday) yellow borders.  A few years later, the colonies are as diverse as ever.  The one photographed today may be in the red garden, but is now producing flowers in clear yellow, spotted burgundy and red, and pale apricot and yellow.  

 

Pardancanda, then, is the perennial that gives you a holiday from any need to worry about which colors go with which.

Plant partners

Because the colors of a given colony will soon diversify despite your original efforts to segregate them, Pardancanda is best partnered on the basis of form alone, not hue.  Provide neighbors that can help mitigate candy lily's tendency to sprawl but who aren't so tall that they would unduly shade its sun-loving foliage. 

 

Dense and mounding neighbors won't, in themselves, keep the stems of Pardancanda upright, but will prevent their leaning still further.  The Pardancanda could either bring some casual disorder to such neighbors or call attention to their rigidity.  Such neighbor plants would be forced into the role of a Nixonian law-and-order type forced to suffer alongside the flower-spangled, sprawling hippydom of the nearby Pardancanda.

 

Instead, consider neighbors whose structure and scale allows wayward stems of Pardancanda to ease gently into them.  Think of Pardancanda as a gangly but charming adolescent, who would just as soon put his legs over the arms and back of proper chairs and sofas, anyway.  Better to provide bean-bag chairs and floor cushions from the get-go.  

 

Shorter forms of spirea could be ideal, especially if the shrubs are cut to the ground after flowering.  This encourages growth of unbranched stems, into which those of Pardancanda can ease, and of more modest height than those that have been allowed to grow year after year.  S. thunbergii 'Ogon' and S. japonica 'White Gold' would both provide Spring bloom, and their chartreuse foliage will complement any color scheme the flowers of Pardancanda might provide.

 

Heuchera villosa is another possibility.  Its large basal foliage has long petioles, and leaning stems of Pardancanda would ease into it without becoming completely submerged.  The late-Summer flowers of Heuchera will provide seasonal interest after Pardancanda has completed its own display.  Heuchera isn't as drought-tolerant as Pardancanda, so both will need to be grown in more moisture-retentive soil if the Heuchera isn't to scorch.  Handily, the taller Pardancanda growth that the additional moisture will encourage is just what the lush Heuchera foliage can help cushion.

 

Where to use it in your garden

Neither the floral display itself nor the overall habit is dense enough for Pardancanda to be used as a stand-alone.  The flower stalks' tendency to lean or flop in rich soil is an additional nudge to scatter Pardancanda amid sturdier but not rigid neighbors, preferably those just tall enough to support the stems but not so tall as to shade the foliage.  See "Plant partners," above.

Culture

Full sun.  Tolerates almost any normally-draining soil, but is most well-behaved in soils that tend toward dryness, which helps restrain growth to a more self-supporting height.  Sandy or even shallow soil is fine.   

How to handle it

Plant in Spring or Fall; if in Fall, allow enough time for the plants to establish, and mulch thoroughly after hard frost to prevent heaving during the Winter.  In Zone 5, light Winter mulch is reported to be beneficial thereafter.  In Zone 6 and warmer, clumps need no Winter protection.  The seedheads are pleasing, and can stay in place into Winter.  If self-seeding is not desired, harvest them as soon as they have matured, for indoor bouquets, perhaps.     

How to handle it: Another option—or two!

Truly fastidious gardeners might want to control their Pardancanda clumps' natural inclination to radiate into multiple colors.  Colonies are indistinguishable when not in flower, and yet the lifting, separating by color, and replanting will usual happen when there are no flowers (or almost none) to indicate which colony (or portion thereof) is which color.  Mid-summer labeling is the solution, as well as serious on-hands-and-knees inspection to follow the various stems to the ground to ensure that you've determined which rhizomes are producing which stems.

 

Even with careful labeling right at ground-level, it's unlikely that you could separate the clumps reliably the next Spring.  Not least, over the Winter, the flowering stems that guided you down to the ground-level rhizomes in July and August will have long since been severed.  And who has confidence that the labels would remain in place, let alone stay legible, through a messy Winter?  So, separate Pardancanda clumps into constituent colors in late Summer or Fall.  If it's a great time to lift and divide daylilies and irises, it's a great time to do the same for Pardancanda.  September is ideal or, even, at the very end of the flowering season in August.  There's nothing like having that last fresh flower on a stem to confirm that a given clump is, indeed, red with burgundy spots and a yellow edge.

 

Pull clumps apart, as possible, into the individual rooted stems of the flower colors you'd like to preserve.  This limits the chance of variation in your replanted colonies that might have happened as a result of mutation from rhizome to rhizome, or from self-seeding, where the rhizomes of plants of different colors would have intertwined into what seems like one homogenous clump.   

Downsides

In moister and richer soils (such as mine), Pardancanda inevitably grows tall enough to flop.

Variants

x Pardancanda norrisii is naturally diverse, producing flowers in almost any color other than blue and, most often, in energetic bi- and multi-colors, not just solids.  Only a few of the strategies that Pardancanda favors:  Spotted petals; petals outlined with contrasting colors; petals that toggle between two colors, one to the next, petal to petal.  Pardancanda is so appealingly variable, in and of itself, that there can be little temptation to look further in the genus. 

 

In a way, that's fortunate, because there are few opportunities to buy Pardancanda in separate colors or patterns.  Flowers of 'Sangria' are light purple tinged with yellow.  Those of 'Violet Stitches' are violet alternating with creamy yellow.  More often, plants are available only in mixed colors—which also means mixed patterns.  The flowers of the dwarf strain, 'Dazzler', are just as diversely appealing as those of the full-sized forms.

Both of the parent species, Belamcanda chinensis and Pardanthopsis dichotoma, are worth growing although, compared to the casual and broad creativity shown in the colors and patterns of their Pardancanda offspring, their own coloring and variety are surprisingly limited.  The spotted-orange flowers of Belamcanda chinensis are only modestly engaging, but they lead to the same tight heads of shiny dark berries.  The species is also, therefore, known as blackberry lily. 

 

Belamcanda chinensis 'Hello Yellow' is sometimes classified as a separate species, Belamcanda flabellata 'Hello Yellow'.  It is highly desirable.  Dwarfer than the species, its flowers are clear yellow.  It, too, produces the showy black seeds.

 

As is typical for Pardancanda and its relatives, Belamcanda self-seeds modestly, enabling the plants to distribute themselves congenially throughout your gardens.

 

The other parent of Pardancanda is Pardanthopsis dichotoma, Vesper Iris, also known as Iris dichotoma.  It is an unusual iris on all fronts.  Although perennial, it often flowers the first year from seed—and in late Summer, when it would be otherwise unheard of for most irises to be in bloom.  The flowers open quickly in late afternoon, supposedly near the time of the vespers typical of many Christian churches.  Their only ho-him feature is their coloring: shades of lavender, pink, or white. 

Availability

On-line; the few named forms are sometimes available at retailers.

Propagation

By division and by seed.  Colors and patterns typically do not come true from seed, although they do come true as X Pardancanda norrisii instead of reverting to either parent species.

Native habitat

x Pardancanda norrissii is a bigeneric hybrid of Belamcanda chinensis, native to China, and Pardanthopsis dichotoma, also named Iris dichotoma, and also native to China.  

 
 
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