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IRIS germanica

Image of Iris germanica

Jessie Keith

Family

Iridaceae

Botanical Name

IRIS germanica

Plant Common Name

German Iris

General Description

German iris is, in part, one genetic parent to the tens of thousands of tall bearded iris varieties that grace our gardens every mid-spring to early summer. This species is native to Europe, and colonists and immigrants carried this tried-and-true garden flower around the temperate world over the past few centuries.

This old-fashioned perennial has basal clusters of long, sword-shaped, sea green leaves that spread apart like fans. The large, lavender-blue flowers are born on strong, tall, leafless stalks. Like all bearded irises, the German iris flower comprises three distinct upright petals (standards) and three distinct downward facing petals (falls) that have are lined with fuzzy "beards" at their bases. The beards are actually designed to draw in pollinators, particularly bees. German iris has a sweet fragrance and makes a pretty, short-lived cutflower.

German iris does best in full sun and needs fertile, well-drained soil. Soils that are soggy or lack organic matter or nutrients are recipe for disaster. It's susceptible to an array of pests and diseases, most notably iris borer and various fungal root rots, which attack their enormous, thick fleshy rhizomes. Enjoy these perennials in cottage gardens and mixed perennial borders. Dig up and divide the plant clumps every three to five years to renew their vigor and flowering displays.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    28"-36" / 71.1cm - 91.4cm

  • Width

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Lavender, Blue Violet

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Sea Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Feature Plant, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No