Iris pallida

Sweet iris

CODE: 010-0002
ZONE: 3a
PRICE: $6.00
POT SIZE: 4.5"sq x 3.5", 475 ml

Ahh, the ubiquitous sweet iris. An old-fashioned favorite, it has graced Midwestern landscapes for over a century because of its balance between beauty and toughness.

Large, sweetly scented pale lavender-blue flowers with yellow beards appear in May atop 30-40" tall stalks, rising out of a fan of thin, gray-green sword-shaped leaves that radiate around the base. The leaves provide additional interest once the flowers have stopped blooming.

I like to let plants like Knautia macedonica ramble through the leaves -- the stiff foliage provides excellent support.

Sweet iris is also known as Dalmatian iris because it is native to Dalmatia, a province of Croatia. Other names include orris or orris root -- orris is an ingredient used in perfumes and breath fresheners and can be extracted from the rhizomes of this plant.

This iris is happiest in moist, humusy, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade, but it has grown quite well for me in many other conditions. Once established it is extremely drought-tolerant, and it's also one of the most shade-tolerant species of iris.

These are mature divisions from an old Midwestern lot where the house is believed to have been built in 1868.

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(c) 2007 Christopher P. Lindsey