Iris histrioides 'Sheila Ann Germany'

A net full of Iris

For a few years, I have been building a small collection of early season Iris that are often referred to as the netted Iris. You can see from the picture below why they get this name and this in turn gives one of the species in this group it specific epithet – reticulata, which in Latin means networked. It also includes histrioides and a couple of others. Most of the varieties in production today are hybrids of these.

Iris reticulata 'Painted Lady'
Iris reticulata ‘Painted Lady’

They come from Russia, the Caucasus and northern Iran. They all grow to about 6″ and bloom early in the year, soon after the foliage emerges. While each bloom last about a week, they tend to stagger their bloom a little, meaning that the show continues for a couple of weeks, and each variety blooms at slight the right time. That gives us these little pops of color and happiness during some of the darkest days of the winter. In summer, the leaves die down and the plants want to be kept dry. They require a very free draining soil.


While a number of these are planted out in the Winter Garden, I almost prefer to grow these in pots because then you can get up close to them. Many of them look better from the sides than they do from looking straight down on them. A compromise might be a rockery that is raised or on a slope that enables you to look at them at flower height.


The first to bloom this year was ‘Eye Catcher’ which put on its first show on January 13th.

Iris reticulata 'Eye Catcher'
Iris reticulata ‘Eye Catcher’

‘Eye Catcher’ has white with striated deep ink-blue star bursts on the standards and falls decorated with yellow stripes amidst a mini galaxy of variable deep blue spots.

This was followed by five of them blooming this week – February 4th.

Iris reticulata 'Harmony'
Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

Harmony has the most intense blue with a yellow blotch with a white fan around it. Very striking.

Iris reticulata 'Painted Lady'
Iris reticulata ‘Painted Lady’

Painted Lady is very delicate with muted colors and patterning.

Iris reticulata 'Pauline'
Iris reticulata ‘Pauline’

Pauline is a dark purple with white markings on the tips and a yellow underside.

Iris histrioides 'Katherine's Gold'
Iris histrioides ‘Katherine’s Gold’

Katherine’s Gold is almost pure white with faint yellow and then a small gold splotch with purple splahes on it.

Iris histrioides 'Sheila Ann Germany'
Iris histrioides ‘Sheila Ann Germany’

Sheila Ann Germany has muted colors but very distinct markings in blue and gold.

There should be a couple more to come, but for now we have plenty to enjoy.

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