Alphabetical Plant Listing

Irises for the Water Garden

Iris brevicaulis (Zigzag Iris), Iris fulva (Copper Iris), Iris prismatica (Slender Blue Iris), Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Flag), Iris sibirica (Siberian iris), Iris hexagona (Dixie Iris), Iris versicolor (Blue Flag), Iris missouriensis (Rocky Mountain Iris), Iris laevigata (Water Iris), Iris virginica (Southern Blue Flag), Iris ensata (Japanese Iris), Iris setosa (Wild Flag Iris)


Blooming from late spring to mid summer, depending upon cultivar and geographic location, water irises make an attractive backdrop for any pond thanks to their architectural foliage and colorful flowers in shade of white, blue, purple, lavender, red or yellow.

When planted in the shallow margins, their foliage keeps pond predators away and also serve to shade smaller plants, like marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) or candelabra primula (Primula japonica), which appreciate some part shade in the heat of the summer.

The substantial root systems of many water garden iris species often make them excellent for preventing soil erosion along the banks of natural ponds and streams. Another added bonus is their ability to remove toxins from the water.

Sturdy, free-flowering, resilient and pest-free, water irises reward gardeners with years of beauty and summer flowers.

Only a few iris species are considered hydrophilic or water-loving irises. These species include Iris brevicaulis (Zigzag Iris), Iris fulva (Copper Iris), Iris prismatica (Slender Blue Iris), Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Flag), Iris sibirica (Siberian iris), Iris hexagona (Dixie Iris), Iris versicolor (Blue Flag), Iris missouriensis (Rocky Mountain Iris), Iris laevigata (Water Iris), Iris virginica (Southern Blue Flag), Iris ensata (Japanese Iris), Iris setosa (Wild Flag Iris).

These iris species can be divided into true water irises and bog irises:

True water irises grow best with water over their crown year round. They are semi-aquatic plants often referred to as bog or marginal aquatic plants. They flourish in water all year around. Most will also grow in wet soil alongside a pond or stream, or even in a moist garden spot. The true water irises include Iris fulva (Copper Iris), Iris laevigata (Water Iris), Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Flag), Iris versicolor (Blue Flag), Iris virginica (Southern Blue Flag) and Iris hexagona (Dixie Iris).

Bog irises grow best with wet soils for some of the growing season and will tolerate drier conditions for the remainder of the year. They can grow in shallow water but will not survive in the pond all year round. Therefore they would have to be moved out of the pond to a drier spot in the winter months. The bog irises include Iris ensata (Japanese Iris), Iris sibirica (Siberian iris), Iris missouriensis (Rocky Mountain Iris), Iris brevicaulis (Zigzag Iris), Iris prismatica (Slender Blue Iris) and Iris setosa (Wild Flag Iris).

Guide Information

Plant Type Perennials
Water Needs Average, High
Tolerance Wet Soil
Landscaping Ideas Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams, Rain Gardens, Water Gardens

High Mountain/Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Plant Type Perennials
Water Needs Average, High
Tolerance Wet Soil
Landscaping Ideas Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams, Rain Gardens, Water Gardens

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