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Iris unguicularis

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© RHS 2003

Characteristics

Plant type

Herbaceous Perennial

Habit

Clump-forming

Fragrance

Flower

Toxicity

Ingestion may cause severe discomfort

Resilience

Hardiness

old H4 (hardy)

Colour

Flower

Purple in Spring and Winter

Foliage

Green in Autumn, Spring, Summer and Winter

Size

Ultimate height

0.1-0.5 metres

Ultimate spread

0.1-0.5 metres

Time to ultimate height

2-5 years


Preferred common name

Algerian iris

Family

Iridaceae


Iris may be rhizomatous or bulbous perennials, with narrowly leaves and erect stems bearing flowers with 3 large spreading or pendent fall petals, alternating with 3 erect, often smaller, standard petals, in late winter, spring or early summer

I. unguicularis is a vigorous evergreen rhizomatous perennial to 30cm in height, with copious dark green leaves and very fragrant, deep violet flowers 5-8cm in width, the falls marked with white and deep yellow at the base, in late winter

Other common names

  • Algerian winter iris
  • winter iris

Synonym(s)

  • Iris stylosa

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Full sun

Aspect

  • South-facing, East-facing or West-facing
  • Exposed or Sheltered

Cultivation

Grow in well-drained or sharply drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Ideal at the base of a sunny wall

Soil

  • Well-drained
  • Alkaline or Neutral
  • Clay, Loam, Sand or Chalk

Propagation

Propagate by division from midsummer to early autumn, plant immediately in flowering positions

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Banks and Slopes, City/Courtyard Gardens, Coastal, Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower borders and beds, Cut Flowers, Patio/Container Plants or Wall-side Borders


How to care

Pruning

Cut back after flowering

Pests

Slugs and snails may be a problem

Diseases

May be subject to bacterial soft rot, grey moulds and a virus