Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Libertia Formosa

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Libertia formosa (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Libertia formosa (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 90cm

Eventual Spread: 60cm

Hardiness: 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11

Family: Iridaceae

Sub Family: Iridoideae

Libertia formosa is an evergreen herbaceous perennial with a clump forming habit. Its mid to dark green leathery leaves are sword shaped with entire margins, up to 45cm long and 15mm broad. Its white flowers are bowl shaped, up to 3cm across and appear in clusters on erect stems above its leaves. Its fruit is an oblong capsule. Its roots are fleshy rhizomes.

Libertia formosa, commonly known as Snowy Mermaid or Chilean Iris, is native to Chile.

The etymological root of the binomial name Libertia is named for Marie-Anne Libert (1782–1865) a Belgian botanist. Formosa is derived from the Latin meaning ‘beautiful’.

The landscape architect may find Libertia formosa useful as a tough evergreen ground cover plant. It may also be used for ground stabilisation.

Ecologically, Libertia formosa flowers are attractive to pollinating insects.

Libertia formosa Flower (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Libertia formosa Flower (23/06/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Libertia formosa prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Libertia formosa requires little maintenance. Large clumps may be divided in spring, it may take a couple of years to recover.


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