Iris reticulata

Plant of the month: January

Iris reticulata Iris reticulata
Rock garden & Lawn aviary bulb display


Iris reticulata must be one of the most beautiful of hardy plants! Quite often its leaves begin to shoot as the snow is still on the ground. While the foliage is only a few inches tall, the buds appear and once opened the striking flowers of this dwarf iris are displayed. The blooms vary from pale blue to deep violet and have central yellow splashes down the middle of each petal. As this iris species flowers far ahead of clumping perennials it can truly dominate a patch of ground for as long as it is in bloom. Therefore it is perfect for providing some pre-spring excitement to spots in the garden that are quiescent until late March. Alternatively, Iris reticulata can be grown in pots for a movable spring display.

Native to the Caucasus, Iris reticulata gets its name from the netted (reticulate) tunic which encloses the bulb of this species. Well drained soil is a must for this species and it does best with a warm, dry summer rest. Bulbs should be planted 2-4 inches apart at twice their own depth in sun or partial shade. Given the right location they will be low-maintenance and fairly easy to grow. However, to insure their presence every year a few additional bulbs can be added each autumn, as not all bulbs inevitably survive and the offsets they produce take a few years to reach flowering age.