Iris verna is one of my very favorite, best loved spring wildflowers. I so look forward to the bright, bold, yet delicate three dimensional blooms held tightly against the stout, sword-like foliage of the plant. The vivid hues of violets, lavenders and blues stand out from a great distance and draw you ever closer. Being a vigorous, clump forming, long lived perennial, you never have to fret about it becoming a nuisance in the garden.
The native range of Iris verna encompasses 17 eastern states – http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=IRVE but it’s been hardy for folks all over the US and Canada and is so tough that it would probably grow up at the Arctic Circle.
Standing about 6″ – 10″ tall, at maturity Iris verna will form an approximately 12″ plant. What a useful plant at the front of a border, along a walkway, as a ground-cover, or as a stand-alone statement in a bed of its own in the wild or formal garden!
I’ve grown this very easy Iris in full sun to deep shade and performance is equally good in both locations, although in the wild, it prefers light shade to dappled sunlight. Moisture requirements are average to moist, but it also tolerates dry soil well.
OHHH, I can’t believe that I forgot to tell you how fragrant this little gem of a plant is!!! As far as propagation goes, there are dormant buds all along the rhizome, so you can cut it into 1” – 2” pieces and they should all sprout. Seed is another option and you usually get pretty close to 100% germination. I love the unique way that the seed pod is produced at the base of the plant.
Till our next horticultural excursion,
Barry Glick, a transplanted Philadelphian, has been residing in Greenbrier County, WV, since 1972. His mountaintop garden and nursery is a Mecca for gardeners from virtually every country in the world. He writes and lectures extensively about native plants and Hellebores, his two main specialties, and welcomes visitors with advance notice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.sunfarm.com, or 304.497.2208.