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Plant Profile: Crested iris (Iris crestata)

iris-cristataThis dwarf perennial is endemic to eastern US where it grows in woodlands, rocky hillsides, mountain ledges and along streams. It spreads by branching rhizomes and can quickly form substantial colonies. The light green leaves are sword shaped and about three to six inches long. In mid- spring to early summer the fragrant flowers are produced on short stems one to two inches long and are one to inches across. They are usually pale blue, lilac, or lavender with a central white patch and yellow or orange crests on the falls but white and pink forms occur. Although the bloom time is short a mass of flowers makes a memorable sight. An excellent plant for a woodland garden and a good choice for a groundcover as the foliage remains attractive all summer.

Type: herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Lilac, blue, or lavender blue with white patch and yellow or orange crests on falls in late spring to early summer

Size: 6-9” H x 6-12” W and spreading

Light: Partial shade; tolerates full sun if moisture adequate and deep shade

Soil: Humusy, moist, well-drained; tolerates soils with low fertility

Hardiness: Zones 3-8

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: Slugs, snails,

Propagation: Division

Companion Plants: Phlox divaricata, sessileleaf bellwort (Uvularia sessilifoli), Geranium maculatum, goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), goldenstar (Chrysogonum virginicum) , Tiarella cordifolia, Trillium luteum and ferns such as Athyrium filix-femina.