Reticulate iris 'George'

Five of the best reticulate irises

We pick five of the best reticulate irises to grow for their exceptional colour and scent.

Reticulata irises are a popular group of small, early flowering iris species with short flower stems followed by long leaves that grow in dry areas of central Europe and central Asia.


Growing from bulbs, the group contains 10 species, including Iris histrio and Iris danfordiae, which usually only flowers well once before fading away. Amongst those 10 reticulata irises is Iris reticulata, too. Though these species are all slightly different, they all need the same growing conditions and we can treat them as different varieties of the same thing. Reticulate means ‘netted ’ and refers to the pattern on the bulbs’ dry skin.

These are superb little winter and early spring plants for small pots, window boxes, raised beds and rock gardens, or other sunny and free-draining situations. You can buy them in flower in winter and spring to spark up dull corners, or plant bulbs in the autumn.

More iris growing advice:

Take a look at some of the best reticulate irises to grow.

Iris ‘Natascha’

Reticulate iris 'Natascha'. Photo: Getty Images.
Reticulate iris ‘Natascha’. Photo: Getty Images.

Strongly scented, white flowers infused with pale blue, delicate blue veins and a slim, bright yellow flash.

H: 15cm.

Iris histrioides ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

Reticulate iris 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'
Reticulate iris ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

Broad, rich, almost purplish blue, fragrant flowers feature pale streaks and an electric yellow flash on the lower petals.

H: 10cm.

Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’

Reticulate iris 'Katherine Hodgkin'
Reticulate iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’

Large, broad flowers in an exquisite combination of summer sky blue and summer sun with intriguing veins.

H: 15cm.

Iris ‘Gordon’

Reticulate iris 'Gordon'
Reticulate iris ‘Gordon’

Two-tone blue flowers, with the lower petals featuring a vivid yellow-orange flash against a white background.

H: 15cm.

Iris ‘George’

Reticulate iris 'George'
Reticulate iris ‘George’

Deep purple flowers with a bright yellow flash on the lower petals. Spring sun brings out exceptional scent.

Height: 12cm.


Growing tips

  • Grow in sunny, well-drained containers or beds (though they look great in containers, they may not flower so well again in their second year)
  • All are hardy as long as they’re not waterlogged
  • Plant bulbs in autumn. Plant deeper than you’d expect, at 10-15cm, to help them flower next year
  • Feed with liquid tomato feed every two weeks from when the flowers fade