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What is a Dutch Iris?

Beautiful bright yellow and dark purple dutch iris flower blossoms in full bloom in early spring

Iris Hollandica

Iris x hollandica is a hybridized flowering plant species you’re going to want to get to know. It is wonderfully easy to care for, and they can be kept as either an annual plant or perennial plant.

Dutch irises sprout flowers that are very similar to orchids, with large floppy petals that can smooth or ruffled, and a great variety of extravagant colors. They’re an extremely popular plant amongst gardeners and floral bouquet arrangers, as they have simple and long stems with blossoms that are long lasting.

This beautiful specimen will soon become an integral member of your garden. They are often used as container plants, as border perennials, or simply as the show stopping cut flower for a bouquet.

Once you’ve finished learning about the dutch iris, head on over to our Awesome List of Flowering Plants from all over the world. Bring more color to your garden by learning more about our lovely plant friends!!

Macro image of amazing white dutch iris flowers with yellow accent petals and blurred green background

Related: Blue and Violet Flowers | Famous Types of Flowers | Types of Flowers by Color | Types of Flowers by Alphabet | How to Store Iris Bulbs

Stunning cluster of light purple dutch iris flowers with a yellow tongue accent growing in the woods

What do Dutch Irises Look Like?

Flowers

Dutch iris flowers will usually emerge in the early spring (May or June) in the northern hemisphere, or in the early fall (September or October) in the southern hemisphere.

A dutch iris flower is comprised of 6 petals – 3 petals that stand upright, and the other 3 that are drooping. Colors can range from pale to dark blue, yellow to white, deep purple to rose, or gold to bronze.

Leaves

Dutch iris leaves are characteristic of the genus, growing in a long and linear elegant shape. Each leaf is a glossy green color and will usually only reach about half the height of the flower stem.

Growth Pattern

Starting under the soil, dutch irises grow from teardrop shaped bulbs. Most iris species grow from thickened roots called rhizomes, but the dutch iris is a little bit different.

This dutch iris bulb is larger than a iris rhizome and is capable of storing more food energy this way. It enables the bulbous iris plant to grow to be large and hardy.

From this bulb will emerge the iris leaves, and a long flower stalk that can reach anywhere from 24-36 inches in length. Flowers emerge from the ends of these long and elegant flower stalks.

Beautiful two toned dutch iris flowers with violet and yellow petals growing at the ends of long flower stalks

What are some Other Iris Species?

Dwarf Iris (Iris Reticulata)

The dwarf iris is a native plant to the Caucasian mountains (intersection of Europe and Asia) and Turkey. This is the shortest of the iris species, only obtaining heights of 4 inches!

This creates a lovely ground cover effect, with their beautiful blue or violet flowers with yellow “dutch iris eye” being easily mistaken for a colony of butterflies fluttering above the ground. Flowers bloom in later winter or early spring.

Japanese Iris (Iris Ensata)

The Japanese iris is a native plant to (you guessed it) Japan. This is known as being one of the most elegant and striking iris flowers, and it resembles giant orchids.

Japanese irises produce flowers with either ruffled or smooth petals that range in colors like lavender, violet, pink, red, or white flower petals. They can grow to be up to 48 inches tall with long sturdy stems and sword shaped leaves.

Morocco Iris (Iris Tingitana)

The Moroccan iris is a native plant to Spain, Algeria, and Morocco. It is known for bearing stunning dark blue ornamental flowers.

These plants bloom in the very early spring, anywhere between February and May, and grow from small “bulblets”. They are one of the daintier species.

Spanish Iris (Iris Xiphium)

The Spanish iris is native to Spain and Portugal. This is known for being a wonderfully hardy and beautiful ornamental plant.

It grows from small bulbous roots and produces gray/green leaves. Flowers can be a variety of lovely colors like violet, dark blue, white or yellow. They are a flower that blooms in the spring.

Tall Bearded Iris (Iris Germanica)

The tall bearded iris is a native plant to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It is known as being the showiest and most extravagant of the irises.

It can grow up to 50 inches tall from slender and simple flower stems. Flowers are very large with ruffled petals of blue, yellow, violet, pink, or white. They are unique because of a fuzzy line (or beard) that in the centre of the flower that attracts pollinators to its nectar.

Lovely iris garden with several dutch iris varieties of dark purple white and yellow with yellow eyes growing amongst sword shaped leaves

Where is the Dutch Iris Native to?

Dutch irises is a hybridized plant created from species that are native to places like Portugal, Spain, and North Africa. It has been in cultivation since the early 1900’s, and dutch iris bulbs were brought to North America after WWII.

They are a wonderfully resilient and hardy plant – as they grow from large underground bulbs – and can survive in USDA zones 5 through 9.

How do you Propagate a Dutch Iris?

Dutch irises are most easily propagated through the collection of bulbs. This can be done either by harvesting existing ones in your garden, borrowing some from a fellow gardener, or purchasing them from a nursery. Feel free to get different varieties, as a colorful dutch iris mix will truly transform a garden.

Getting Started

The first and most important step to growing dutch iris, is picking the ideal spot on your property. Pick a spot the receives full sun or partial shade.

Soil should be well drained. In order to help improve the drainage of the soil that exists, or if you have naturally clay textured soil, simply incorporate either peat moss or compost to the mix.

Dark purple petals of the dutch iris flower with yellow dots growing at the ends of long flower stems on a sunny day in the garden

Iris Bulb Planting

Next step is to plant the dutch iris bulbs! They are best planted in the late summer or early fall, at the same time that you would regularly plant a tulip or daffodil. Spring planted bulbs have the chance of rotting because of excess moisture.

Create holes that are about 6-8 inches deep, and 4-5 inches apart from one another. Place each individual bulb in the hole with the point part of the bulb pointing upwards. Loosely cover the holes with soil.

Maintenance

As plants are growing, soil should be kept moist. In warmer climates the dutch iris plant should start to sprout foliage in the late fall or early winter. In colder climates, foliage won’t appear until the early spring or late spring.

During the summer months (after the flower has bloomed) the soil should be let out to dry completely. This is so that the flower bulbs can dry out and go dormant, and hopefully experience a second blossom the next year!

In order to help the plant along (in warm climates), remove the spent iris flower, but keep as much of the stem and leaves as possible.

In cold climates, simply let the bulb dry out, and remove it from the ground before the first frost of the year. Place it in a dry and cool area where it can stay until it can be replanted the following autumn!

Beautiful white and violet dutch iris flowers in full bloom growing at the ends of long flower stalks with a blurry green background

What are the Growing Conditions of Dutch Irises?

Now that we know everything about what dutch irises look like and where the come from, it’s time to learn how they like to grow!

Luckily, they are a very low maintenance and simple plant to care for. Any expertise level of gardener is more than capable to grow iris plants.

Soil Type

The dutch iris can tolerate pretty much any soil type as long as it is well drained soil. Acidity level is flexible, and nutrient content is also flexible.

If you’re looking for an easy way to improve the quality of your soil, simply incorporate compost to the mixture. This will not only add valuable nutrients, but it will help aerate and moisten the soil as well!

Water Level

The water level required for a dutch iris depends on what time of year it is. During the plants’ growing season, it should be receiving about 1 inch of water per week. As long as you don’t live in the desert, natural precipitation should suffice.

Outside of the growing season, soil should be completely dry. This is because the bulb should dry out when it is dormant. That way it will not rot, and the plant will be able to bloom again the next season.

A really cool aspect of the dutch iris is the fact that is can grow entirely in water instead of soil. That is one flood tolerant plant!

Sun Exposure

The dutch iris is a plant that will always appreciate appreciate the opportunity to grow in full sun conditions, though they are tolerant to partial shade.

That being said, they will probably experience their most productive growth season if they are able to exist in all day sun.

Dutch iris flowers in full bloom with white yellow and purple flower petals growing in a lush forest

Temperature

Dutch irises can exist in USDA growing zones 5 through 9. In areas of the world that experience colder winters, the dutch iris will act as an annual – where it will experience its entire life cycle before the winter comes.

In areas of the world that experience warmer winters, the dutch iris will act as a perennial – where the underground bulb will survive but simply go dormant in the winter. It will blossom again the following growing season.

Pruning

Prune a dutch iris if you are intent on it having a second bloom. Simply do this by removing the spent iris flowers. Be careful to leave as much as the flower stem and leaves as possible.

Otherwise, simply remove leaves that have begun to yellow to help keep the energy going to the areas of the plant that are still surviving.

Fertilizer

Though not at all necessary, dutch irises appreciate a low-nitrogen fertilizer right at the beginning of their growing season.

Intolerances

If it wasn’t clear already, the dutch iris is wonderfully tolerant to almost everything. The main thing to remember is that the are shade intolerant, but otherwise, it is very easy to keep them happy!

Lovely dutch iris blossoms with white petals and yellow tongue accents growing next to a blurred pond

How are Dutch Irises Used?

The dutch iris makes for the perfect ornamental perennial plant. Their resilient bulbs can planted very early on in the year in greenhouses as they flower early, making them very popular among gardeners and florists alike.

Their height and showy flowers make for a wonderful border plant, and their easy care allows them to exist in all different kinds of places — like urban gardens, as container plants, or even indoors in a water vase.

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