Iris flower in your garden. Characteristics and cultivation

We go today with a rhizomatous of wide latitudes that extends across the world. The iris flower is considered invasive as its ability to spread and hardiness is truly impressive. Planting it out of control can be a bit of a nightmare. Let’s see its characteristics.


From the mountain to the desert there is a long way and the conditions are not even similar but this genus of plants invades any area and the differences in altitude, ergo of climate, do not affect many of its species too much since their rusticity compared to the climate is more that developed as we will see later. This genus was already venerated in ancient Greece and took its scientific name from those times, long before taxonomy made its appearance as a scientific discipline for the classification of biodiversity.

And we say this because the concept that gives its name to this genus is the rainbow , simply due to the great variety of colors that we can find in the more than 300 species that make up the genus. There are currently 362 species accepted. There are many others, just over 800 that have ended up being synonymous with these 362, so we can stay with this last number. But continuing with the origin of the genre, Iris is one of the goddesses of Greek mythology, messenger of the gods and protagonist in many stories, appearing, for example, in works such as the Iliad being the only messenger, although it was later Hermes who he will take the fame of messenger. If you want you like mythology, we recommend this article about the goddess Iris .

It is represented with golden wings and a blue or multicolored veil and in the presence of the rainbow itself, effectively multicolored like the rainbow. Hence the name of such a fabulous phenomenon of refraction of light through raindrops and all the words derived from our language as iridescent, which has the colors of the rainbow.

Leaving aside the mythological part, let’s look at the botanical, ornamental and active principles part that we can take advantage of.


Let’s start with its worldwide distribution. It is a genus that clearly colonizes the northern hemisphere in an overwhelming way. The genus Iris is mainly concentrated in practically all of Europe and more specifically in Central Europe as we can see in the following distribution record with more than 400,000 geolocated records around the world.

Presence of the genus Iris sp. in the world. Map obtained from


Let’s talk about lilies yes! If you haven’t fallen by now, the iris flower is a lily ! And in Gardenprue we have already talked about them, their types and varieties widely. Within the genus we have two main differences in root morphology since we have bulbous lilies and rhizomatous lilies . Then there are other more exhaustive classifications such as bearded lilies, padded non-bearded lilies, etc. and there is even a division by growth heights1.

These differential groups according to their root system are seen in other species such as begonias that also have this classification within the genus Begonia.



Within the vast catalog of species there is one species that stands out in particular, we could say that it is the one that has made the genus famous, although there are other really impressive garden cultivars. Iris germanica L. is known mainly for its violet color although it can also vary to purple, yellow or white.


The rusticity of the iris flower is absolutely stunning. It supports extreme cold and we can also see it in coastal areas. According to the scale of climatic hardiness zones, the iris flower is in zone H6, that is, it supports winter temperatures of up to -20ºC, so there is no recklessness with frosts and intense cold of the harshest of winters.

Of course, when the flowering season arrives they need heat, direct exposure to light in south-southeast orientations to ensure proper flowering. The sun and heat is the most influential factor in this regard.

Regarding the soil, we can see in the following map that the eastern areas of alkaline, sandy and drained soils are the preferred ones for this plant. Perhaps that is its weak point in its rusticity. Poorly supports heavy and somewhat acid soils . We are now going to see the distribution of the iris flower in Spain and part of Europe. Eye to the data. The previous image shows the records of the genus Iris sp . in the world. Now let’s see one of the species, Iris germanica L .

Presence of Iris germanica L. Map obtained from


In reality it is a species that needs rather little irrigation water and tolerates very severe drought environments such as the Spanish Mediterranean coast, but it is recommended to do some irrigation if we grow it in a garden. An abundant watering once a month during the hottest months is normal. They also require water during spring, although being a season defined by the rains, we will have to be careful in those springs that are somewhat drier than usual.

With regard to the fertilizer, if the soil is well nourished in organic matter it would not be necessary to worry much about this aspect although if you want, you can add some fertilizer during the spring in order to bloom.

And as we always say. Although a plant can grow naturally in drought areas, it does not mean that we should not water or fertilize it if we want a dense and colorful floral blanket in the garden. Tolerant conditions are not the same as optimal growing conditions.

Iris flower. Photo by: smalljude


Contradicting what is most natural in most plants, in the case of lilies it is better to plant them during midsummer to take root and gain strength during this season and a little in the fall to comfortably overcome winter. In the case of the plantation, it will be necessary to provide them with a little more irrigation than the previous recommendations, being able to even double the dose.


Eliminate flower stems when they wither and trim the dying leaves. Be careful with the area of ​​land that the rhizome can colonize. For this reason, it is very typical to plant them in garden borders, large pots and borders to avoid their excessive propagation.

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