Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Iris Typhifolia

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Iris typhifolia flower (22/04/2011, Kew Gardens, London)

Iris typhifolia flower (22/04/2011, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Soil: Moist, well drained, prefers acidic soil

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer

Eventual Height: 60-90cm

Eventual Spread: 60cm

Hardiness: USDA Zone 4a-9b

Family: Iridaceae

Iris typhifolia is a herbaceous perennial with a creeping habit that spreads by rhizomes and will also come true from seed. Hollow stems bear lanceolate to linear and twisted leaves with the inflorescence being surrounded by 3 to 4 spathes and taking the form of dark violet, pedicled flowers with tubular perianths and yellow anthers.

Iris typhifolia, commonly known as Cattail Iris, is native to China. In its native habitat it grows in damp areas near lakes.

The etymological root of the binomial name Iris is Greek meaning ‘rainbow’, probably in reference to the many colours of their flowers. Typhifolia is derived from the Latin folia ‘leaf’ and the genus Typha.

Iris typhifolia (22/04/2011, Kew Gardens, London)

Iris typhifolia (22/04/2011, Kew Gardens, London)

The landscape architect may find Iris typhifolia useful in damp areas including wetlands and pond/ lake margins. It will tolerate areas that experience occasional flooding.

Iris typhifolia requires constantly moist soil and prefers acidic soils.

Ecologically, Iris typhifolia will attract pollinating insects such as bees which will feed on its nectar.

Iris typhifolia requires very little care, occasional watering may be required.

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