Iris reticulata 'Clairette'
Common Name: iris
Type: Bulb
Family: Iridaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: March
Bloom Description: Light blue standards and dark blue falls
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Soil needs to stay relatively dry in summer in order for the bulbs to set buds for the following year. Plant bulbs 3-4” deep and space 3-4” apart in fall. Bulbs tend to separate into offsets or bulblets after bloom (particularly when planted shallowly), with each new bulblet requiring several years to mature. Although bulbs can be dug and divided (offsets removed) after bloom, it is probably best to do this only if flowering has significantly declined. In order to insure consistent flowering from year to year, it is an option to plant supplemental bulbs each fall, or to grow this plant as an annual by planting new bulbs each fall.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Iris reticulata, commonly called reticulated iris, is a bulbous perennial iris that is native to Turkey, the Caucasus, Northern Iraq and Iran. It is a low-growing purple-flowered reticulate or netted iris that blooms in March to early April in the St. Louis area, at about the same time as snowdrops (Galanthus), glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) and the early crocuses. Striking purple 2.5” diameter flowers with gold crests and white streaks on the falls appear on naked stems (scapes) typically growing to 6-8" tall. Flowers have a sweet fragrance. Narrow, linear, 4-sided, grass-like leaves (usually 2-4 per plant) typically rise to the same level as the flower at the time of bloom, but elongate to 12-15” after bloom before eventually disappearing by late spring as the plant goes dormant.

Genus named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Specific epithet is in reference to the netted or reticulate pattern on the dry bulbs.

‘Clairette’ features light blue standards and dark blue falls with a white marking in the center of each fall. Narrow, grass-like leaves elongate to 15” after bloom, but eventually disappear by late spring as the plants go dormant.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Fusarium basal rot is an infrequently occurring disease problem.

Garden Uses

Best massed in sunny areas of rock gardens, border fronts, along walks or along streams or ponds. Best planted in mass. Small groups of this small plant can get lost in the landscape. Also may be forced in pots.