Vesper Iris, Pardanthopsis dichotoma Plus Blackberry Lily, Belamcanda = Candy Lilies, X Pardancanda norrisii

Many of the flowers we enjoy growing are the result of a gardener's curiosity and efforts. One example is the Candy Lily, also called Orchid Lily or Paintbox Lily. It is a hybrid between a Blackberry Lily and the night blooming Vesper Iris.

Its scientific name is X Pardancanda norrisii. Its parent's scientific names are Pardanthopsis dichotoma and Belamcanda Chinesis, making Pardan + canda the name. The X means hybrid and norrisii is for Samuel Norris, the original back yard breeder.

One parent, the Vesper Iris, a Siberian native, has light green sword leaves and mauve or purple-blue flowers with white and yellow markings.

Vesper Iris, also called Star of the Evening, opens in the late afternoon during the summer. When the flowers fade they twist into spirals and fall.

Bustani Plant Farm is one source of Vesper Iris plants, and 405-372-3379. Ruth Owens at Bustani provided the photos you see here.

Ed Rasmussen of Fragrant Path,, said seeds are $5 postage paid - checks only. Their catalog calls Vesper Iris by its old name, Iris dichotoma.

Sow Vesper Iris seeds in the fall in a peat mix, in a cold frame outside, or in a refrigerator. In the spring move them to bright light and keep them damp. The seeds can take a year to come up. Move each seedling to a pot and plant in part shade.

The other Asian Candy Lily parent, Blackberry Lily, is named for the black seed clusters that form after the flowers fade. With the characteristic iris fan of leaves, Blackberry Lily, Belamcanda chinesis, is also an Iris not a lily. It grows easily from seed, likes sun and an average amount of water, and is hardy in zones 5 to 10.

Summer blooming Blackberry Lily flowers last one day but each plant produces dozens of the spotted orange flowers. The flowers are the reason for two of its common names, Leopard Lily and Belamcanda Freckle Face.

Wherever Blackberry Lily seeds fall on fertile soil, a colony of plants will develop. If you plant Belamcanda from seed, give them 4 to 6 weeks of cold. Either plant them outside in the fall or refrigerate the seeds for a month before planting in early spring.

There are new varieties of Belamcanda. Plant Delights Nursery ( has Belamcanda chinensis Hello Yellow, a dwarf Blackberry Lily with bright yellow flowers.

Dazzler, grows only 12-18-inches with flowers in mixed shades of yellow, white, red, orange and cream. The online store, Jellitto,, offers Dazzler seeds.

Candy Lily is the most commonly used name for the X Pardancanda norrisii. Its flower colors are often speckled, mottled, tiger striped or freckled, resulting in the other common name, Painted Lily. Mr. Norris’s hybrid, grows up to two to three feet tall and 18-24-inches wide.

It is easy to grow X Pardancanda norrisii from seed but there is no way to predict which color combinations you will get. From a pack of seeds the resulting plants can vary from 1 to 3 feet tall and can bloom unpredictably over a period of time.

Divide and transplant clumps of plants in late summer, after the leaves turn yellow, or in early spring when you see them coming up.

X Pardancanda norrisii, Candy Lily seed, is available from Park Seed,, 800-845-3369 and Seeds of Change,, 888-762-7333.

Parks says that their seed-grown Candy Lilies are drought, humidity and heat tolerant. They describe them as brightly colored as a rainbow and as variously colored and marked as a bag of marbles.

Candy Lily plants are available from, 1-800-852-5243. If you purchase plants, put them into the ground or pots as soon as they arrive, so the roots do not dry out.


Megan said…
I'm writing from Annie's Annuals & Perennials, a nursery in California in hopes that you will give us permission to use your fab Iris dichotoma pics for our online plant sign.


Megan(at symbol)
Molly said…
Hi Megan
I receive your fab emails even though I can't possibly shop there.
You are welcome to use the photo and thank you for giving credit.
Anonymous said…
I had a bellamcanda exactly like the one in your photo in my old garden in Calgary. It was the only one that sprouted when I tried starting it from seed
It didn't produce many blooms, but it was always a treat to see the ones that did appear. This was in zone 3, in a harshly exposed spot.
I'm going to try again in Saskatchewan, in a slightly more sheltered area.
Molly said…
Wow!~ Zone 3? It's much more hardy than I had imagined.
Thanks so much for dropping in and letting me know.

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