Dwarf Iris bloom very early in the spring in zones 4 through 9. The true reticulate bulbous species is native to the Caucasus and has violet flowers with a yellow blotch of color on the falls. Falls are the lower petals and the upper petals of iris are called standards.
Other reticulate iris are blue and some have orange and white markings. One variety ‘Scent-sational’ lives up to its name and is exceptionally fragrant.
Specialty catalogs feature collections of these miniature iris bulbs that are planted in the fall. One can learn a lot from these catalogs and listings online about the variety of unusual irises that are available. For example, there is one elegant white variety of dwarf iris that is pure white except for a raised yellow stripe on its falls.
Another distinctive variety is ‘Spot On’ that has deep purple standards and white falls that have dark purple splashes and stripes as well as an inky splotch on the tip of each fall. These dwarf plants grow only 4 to 6 inches tall, and over time the bulbs produce offsets that increase the plants and thus the colorful display each spring.
Deer dislike all types of iris, so plant these little beauties liberally in beds and rock gardens and naturalize them in spaces will they will not be disturbed.
Note: ‘Reticulate’ means there is a net pattern, like the markings of a giraffe, on these tiny bulbs.