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Iris versicolor (blueflag)
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Iris versicolor

blueflag or syn: Limniris versicolor

Very robust, dramatic display of boldly veined, swordlike leaves with large, violet-blue flowers accented by whitish markings at the base of the sepals. Petals and sepals spread out flat making it an attractive place for feeding by hummingbirds.

SIZE
Iris versicolor LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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Height

2-3 Feet

Spread

2-3 Feet

Spacing

18-24 Inches

Bloom Color

Violet

USDA Hardiness Zone 2-7

blueflag Interesting Notes

Perfectly at home along a streambank or the edge of a pond, Iris versicolor grows in clumps 1’-3’ tall and 2’ wide. The flowers bloom in early summer from deep violet to white with yellow blotches on the throat. The petals and sepals spread to form an easy feeding vessel for hummingbirds. When the blooms of summer fade, the upright, sword-like foliage provides textural contrast to the garden plants surrounding it. A durable choice, Iris versicolor is perfect for adding a bit of lushness around a water feature or placing in a situation of moist sun where the soil is too wet and heavy for other perennials.

The native range for blueflag runs from Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Florida and Arkansas and it can be found in marshes, swamps, wet meadows, shorelines, and in forested wetlands. I. versicolor prefers rich soils in full sun to part shade and tolerates moderately brackish water and permanent inundation up to 6 inches deep.

While the flower has some beetle and bird visitors, blueflag’s roots are a preferred carbohydrate source for aquatic rodents. It is a plant best grouped together en masse where the dotting of its blue flowers can create a rhythm as it peaks through the strong foliage. Over time, Iris versicolor spreads by rhizome or by seed if placed in a happy location.

Iris versicolor Growing and Maintenance Tips

Prefers rich, well-drained, loamy, peaty soils in full to partial shade. Benefits from the addition of lime and rich, organic materials. Best used in flower and water gardens, edges of ponds, and areas in which it may naturalize.

Good Substitutions

blueflag Iris versicolor 'Purple Flame'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Moist
Moist
Pollinator-friendly
Pollinator-friendly
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Hummingbird-friendly
Hummingbird-friendly
Songbird-friendly
Songbird-friendly
Salt Tolerance
Salt Tolerance
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Wet
Green Infrastructure
Bioretention/Rain Garden
Meadow/Prairie
Wetland Indicator Status
Obligate Wetland (OBL)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
For Animals
Caution: Toxic
Attributes
Native to North America
Clay Tolerance
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Spring / Early Summer
Propagation Type
Open pollinated