What’s In Bloom: Dwarf Crested Iris

dwarf crested iris 2_cleaned


Dwarf Crested Iris

Iris cristada

I tend to plant a lot of interesting things near my garbage cans.  Its kind of a wacky thing to do, but when you live in a tight, small yard and you like to garden you tend to fill any empty space with color.

My Dwarf Crested Irises live happily next to the trash bins.  They seem to like the way my water spigot always leaks when I hook up the hoses, and they don’t mind the very dense, dark shade.  They make taking out the trash a beautiful experience in early May.

This is the first year where they weren’t just pretty – they were breathtaking.  I’ve had them for almost a decade but somehow I don’t think I ignored them enough.  I kept poking and prodding them, hoping for a bigger amount of blooms.  They were okay, but not spectacular.

Last year I decided I would give up on this native, and resolved to remove it or just move it in the spring.  Suddenly, a thick carpet of the rhizomes had spread to fill in every nook on both sides of my ugly old chain fence, just where the gate makes entering the yard noisy.

dwarf crested iris_cleaned


I am in love with them.  What they wanted, I guess, was to be left alone.  Native plants are like that sometimes.

If you want to try planting and ignoring them you need to know:  Dwarf Crested Irises are short, small versions of the exotic irises – their sky-blue flowers often remind people of a crucifix.  They are tiny – getting to be only about 5-7 inches tall, and the leaves are much less abundant than the exotic hybrid forms.  Pairs well with native ginger  and ferns.  Needs shade and likes a bit of moisture, but according to many sources will tolerate drought.

According to the Missouri Botanic Garden this plant is native from Maryland, south to Georgia.

Sadly, they are very hard to find at commercial nurseries.

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