INFORMATION ABOUT DWARF IRISES…
By: Nikki Phipps
Image by photophnatic Dwarf irises bloom in late winter or early spring. The flowers are quite large in relationship to the plant as a whole; however, they make exceptional garden plants with their striking colors and wonderful fragrance. Dwarf irises are also extremely easy to grow. Not only will they return each year, they multiply quickly, providing a perfect groundcover that will blanket the garden with color.
Dwarf irises range in height from about 4-8 inches tall. These lovely little plants do well in nearly any soil provided it drains easily. Most species of dwarf iris should be planted about 4 inches in the ground during the fall in full sun. Dwarf irises are great for rock gardens, under shrubs and trees, in beds and borders. They also make nice little container plants. They make suitable companions with candytuft, crocus, grape-hyacinth, winter aconite, viola, and pansy.
Both Iris reticulata and Iris danfordiae are the most commonly known dwarf iris species, and both have notable fragrances. Reticulated iris ( I. reticulata) is native to the Caucasus Mountains of Turkey. This wild iris has been extensively cultivated, resulting in over a dozen different named varieties, most in beautiful shades of blue and purple. This popular little iris grows 4- 6 inches tall.
The Danford iris ( I. danfordiae) species shares most of the characteristics of the reticulated iris with exception to its bright canary yellow color and when left in the ground, the bulbs break up into bulblets, making it take a while longer for these irises to re-bloom. This lovely little plant grows about 4 inches high and is very fragrant.
Dwarf lake iris ( I. lacustris) is another miniature iris with showy, deep blue flowers with wide, flattened, and sword-like, leaves. Although its flowers are usually blue, lilac or white flowers are sometimes found. Dwarf lake iris only grows around the Great Lakes and occurs near the northern shores of Lakes Huron and Michigan in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada. These beautiful irises are now considered endangered.
The Crested dwarf iris ( I. cristata) produces light blue to light violet flowers and a touch of yellow on its falls. The leaves are relatively short and broad. This species can reach about 3-8 inches in height. Crested dwarf iris is found in wet forests and hills of eastern and southeastern U.S. This species is easy to grow and appreciates light shade.
Dwarf irises grow from rhizomes or tubers that can be easily divided in early fall when leaves begin to yellow.