How to Grow Blackberry Lilies (Leopard Lilies)

Updated on February 6, 2020
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.


Blackberry lilies are a garden favorite. Their cheerful flowers light up the garden in the summer and then the dried seed pods with their shiny black seeds provide interest in your garden in the fall and early winter.

What are Blackberry Lilies?

Blackberry lilies are flowering perennials that are native to China, Russia and Japan. They are not lilies. They were originally classified as the sole species of the genus Belamcanda. Modern DNA analysis revealed that they are actually iris, so they were moved to the Iris genus and renamed Iris domestica.

Blackberry lilies are hardy in zones 5 – 10. Like their iris cousins, the plants have sword-like leaves that grow in a fan shape from a rhizome. The rhizome has been used medicinally for centuries to treat throat, liver and spleen ailments as well as malaria, gonorrhea and as an antidote to arrow poison. Modern scientists are testing the rhizome as a treatment for prostate cancer.

The flowers do not look like iris flowers. They are reminiscent of lily flowers. The flowers are borne on a long stalk, usually 2 to 3 feet tall. The stalks are not very sturdy and easily blow over during high winds. You may want to stake them. The flowers themselves have 6 petals. They can be orange or yellow. Both have red spots. The spotted flowers are the origin of the name “leopard lily”. Bloom time is summer to early fall. Like daylilies, each flower only lasts a day but each stalk has a succession of flowers on it.

The flowers are followed by large green pods. The pods ripen to a tan color and open revealing the round shiny black seeds inside. They look a bit like blackberries so the plant has come to be called blackberry lily. The seeds remain on the stalks for several months creating winter interest in the garden. The dried stalks and seeds are also used in dried arrangements.

Blackberry lilies produce seed pods that start out green, then dry out and open to display the shiny black seeds from which the plants get their name.
Blackberry lilies produce seed pods that start out green, then dry out and open to display the shiny black seeds from which the plants get their name. | Source

How to Grow Blackberry Lilies

Blackberry lilies prefer full sun but will tolerate a little shade. Plant them in well-drained soil. Soggy soil will cause the rhizome to rot. The plants enjoy regular watering and bloom better when they are watered regularly but they are also drought tolerant in case you forget to water them. There is no need to fertilize your plants. They will get enough nutrients from your garden soil.

Blackberry lilies will readily reseed themselves in your garden if you leave the seeds on the plants. If you do not want them to reseed in your garden, simply prune the flower stalks after they have finished blooming so that the seeds won’t have a chance to form.

In the fall you should remove all of the dead foliage. This will also help prevent rhizome from rotting as well as denying hibernating pests a place to spend the winter.

Blackberry lilies should be divided regularly to keep them healthy.
Blackberry lilies should be divided regularly to keep them healthy. | Source

How to Divide Blackberry Lilies

Blackberry lilies should be divided regularly to prevent overcrowding which leaves them susceptible to the ravages of iris borers.

Division is similar to iris. In August when the plants have finished flowering, carefully dig up the rhizomes. Using a sharp knife, cut the rhizomes into pieces making sure that each piece has a fan of foliage attached. Discard any dead or diseased pieces. Replant the healthy divisions at least 12 inches apart.

How to Grow Blackberry Lilies From Seed

Blackberry lilies are most often grown from seed, either harvested from the dried seed pods the previous fall or purchased for spring sowing.

You can direct sow the seeds in your garden in the fall (for spring germination) or in the spring. Plant them ¼ inch deep. Fall planted seeds will germinate the following spring after the soil warms. Seeds planted in the spring after the last frost will germinate in 2 to 3 weeks. Seeds for perennial plants take longer to germinate than annual seeds for annual plants so be patient. After the seedlings have developed their first true leaves, thin them to at least 12 inches apart.

You can also start your seeds indoors 60 days before your last frost date. The seeds will need to be cold stratified to mimic winter weather. Sow your seeds ¼ inch deep in a container of pre-moistened soil, and cover the container with a plastic bag to hold in the moisture. Place the plastic covered container in your refrigerator for 10 – 14 days. Check the soil periodically to make sure that it is still moist. After 2 weeks, remove the plastic covered container from your refrigerator. Remove the plastic bag and place the container on a sunny windowsill. Germination should occur in 2 to 3 weeks. You can plant your seedlings at least 12 inches apart in your garden after your last frost.

© 2019 Caren White


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      5 months ago

      Louise, you're going to love them! Don't forget to allow them to go to seed to give you another few months of interest in your garden.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      5 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I've never seen this before, but certainly wouldn't mind growing this in my own garden. It's lovely.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)