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Plant of the month – September 2022

By September 2, 2022March 2nd, 2023No Comments

Hesperantha coccinea

Hesperantha coccinea is commonly known as the Crimson Flag Lily.

Before I came to Marwood Hill Gardens, all I knew about this plant was that it had a very complex sounding name.

‘Schizostylis’. No sooner had I committed this name to memory, it was changed again to an equally complex new name ‘Hesperantha’( much to my frustration).

I vividly remember seeing this flower when I started working at Marwood ( October 2019) because of its jewel like blooms which could be seen dotted across the garden. It is prominent in the walled terracing, along the edge of the herbaceous borders and planted along the steamside. It really is impressive.

Marwood has a number of different cultivars including Hesperantha ‘alba’ (white), Hesperantha coccinea ‘Sunrise’ (mid-pink), Hesperantha ‘Mrs Hegarty’ (pale-pink), and the later flowering Hesperantha ‘November Cheer’ (dark-pink) and Hesperantha major ‘Coccinea’ (red). The red is a personal favourite of mine.

For much of the year Hesperantha is quite unassuming. It is part of the Iris family and has glaucous-green grass-like foliage reaching 60cm in height. It could easily be mistaken for any other species of Iris growing in the garden.  However it is simply biding its time, waiting for September when the other plants start to fade. Suddenly it strikes out, with slender spikes of silky, cup- shaped blooms.

Hesperantha is an ideal plant to keep the garden looking good until the first frosts of winter. Its late flowering nature is easily explained when you consider that it is native of South Africa. Spring in South Africa is a time when water is more plentiful and a good time for flowering. Autumn in the UK coincides with spring in the southern hemisphere. Put simply despite being thousands of miles away from its home Hesperantha continues to follow its natural flowering cycles.

  Hesperantha coccinea Sunrise

In South Africa this plant can be found growing in

mountainous areas, by the sides of streams and in moist, grassy areas, which explains its tough and resilient nature when grown in the UK. It prefers to be planted in a sunny spot but is not fussy about what soil it is planted into. It self seeds very readily and can be propagated by both seed and division after flowering.


It is also incredibly popular with our garden visitors and was one of the best sellers here in Autumn 2020. Why not visit our plants sales area and buy one yourself, they are also available via our online shop.

Varieties available via our online shop or at our Walled Garden Nursery

Hesperantha coccinea ‘Sunrise’ | Marwood Hill Gardens

 Hesperantha ‘November Cheer’ | Marwood Hill Gardens

Hesperantha coccinea Major AGM | Marwood Hill Gardens