Iris reticulata, also known as the reticulated iris or dwarf iris, is a small flowering bulbous plant native to regions including Russia, the Caucasus, and Northern Iran. Its name ‘reticulata’ refers to the net-like skin or ‘tunic’ that covers the bulb.
Size: This early spring bloomer has a compact growth habit, typically reaching a height and spread of about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm).
Flowers: The flowers of Iris reticulata are striking, characterized by deep purple-blue hues with a splash of yellow or gold on the falls. Each flower displays the classic iris form, with three upward-standing petals (standards) and three downward-curving petals (falls).
Fragrance: A key fact about this iris is its fragrance. Unlike many other small spring bulbs, the reticulated iris has a subtle yet delightful scent, making it a pleasant surprise in the early spring garden.
Bloom time: Blooming occurs early in the year, often among the first signs of spring. It can even push through the snow in colder regions, bringing a welcome burst of color to the late winter garden.
Hardiness: The dwarf iris is hardy in USDA zones 5-8. It prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil and can tolerate a variety of soil types.
Uses: These irises are often used for their ornamental value, adding early-season interest to gardens. Their small size makes them a perfect fit for rock gardens, borders, or underplanting beneath deciduous trees and shrubs. They are also ideal for container planting or naturalizing in lawns.
Pollinators: Iris reticulata is a valuable early nectar source for bees and other pollinators.
Deer and rabbits: It’s generally not a favored snack for deer and rabbits, and its bulbs are toxic if ingested, which can deter these and other pests.