Iris cristata 'Alba'
Common Name: dwarf crested iris 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Iridaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: White with gold crested falls
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought


Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade. Will tolerate close to full shade. If grown in full sun, the soil must be kept consistently moist. Grows well on well-drained slopes. Plants will quickly naturalize by branching rhizomes.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Iris cristata, commonly called dwarf crested iris, is a low-growing, rapidly spreading plant that typically grows to 3-6” tall. Found growing in rich soil on wooded ravines or bluffs in portions of the eastern and southern United States. In Missouri, it typically occurs on rocky, wooded slopes, on bluffs and along streams in the southeastern Ozark region. It features pale blue, lilac or lavender iris flowers with three parallel, golden, crested ridges on the falls (sepals). Flowers are borne on very short stems, often appearing nearly stemless. Narrow, sword-shaped, yellowish-green to medium green leaves (to 6” long) arise from a network of branching rhizomes. Spreads quickly and forms dense colonies in optimum growing conditions. When in flower, a well-developed bed can produce a spectacular drift of blue color.

Genus named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Specific epithet means crested, in reference to the crested ridges on the sepals of this species.

'Alba' features white flowers with gold crests borne on 6" tall stems.


Snails and slugs can be significant problems.


An excellent plant for early spring bloom in a shaded area of the rock garden, perennial border or woodland garden. Foliage forms a nice ground cover for woodland areas. May also be used as a seasonal ground cover or edger.