Iris reticulata – Netted Iris
Richly coloured fragrant flowers of purple or blue petals with yellow and white markings rise above stiffly erect leaves.
This is small plant, growing to only some 15cm, which forms drifts over time. After flowering the narrow, ribbed leaves continue to grow creating a slightly untidy appearance before the leaves die down in mid-summer. It will multiply steadily through bulb offsets. The English name comes from the fibrous net that surrounds the bulb.
Iris reticulata is native to an area stretching from Turkey to the Causasus Mountains and Northern Iran, where it is found on rocky hillsides. it is not browsed by deer. There are now a range of varieties available. The blue one above is “Gordon” and the purple is [mysteriously] named “Blue Note”.
Soil / Aspect:
I. reticulata should be grown in well drained soil in full sun. Though it will tolerate some shade, it does not then flower so well. Slightly unusually it actually likes soil that dries out in summer, making it something of an architypical rockery plant. They do not require acidic soil but seem to thrive in Karin’s garden.
You should resist the temptation to “tidy up” the leaves after flowering, letting all the goodness sink back into the bulbs. In the end the dried up leaves seem to disappear by themselves. After a few years a clump will become congested and flower less prolifically, which can be resolved by lifting and replanting the choicest bulbs.