The Algerian Iris
The colorful winter flowering Algerian Iris, Iris unguicularis is a reliable plant in our garden. The name hints a little about the Mediterranean origins of this plant.
One of the most useful and easy care winter flowering plants, Iris unguicularis will form a nice clump over time and are useful for planting beneath deciduous trees.
Wonderful mauve to purple flowers in mid winter with a splash of yellow in the throat make it a really worthwhile addition to a garden border. (see picture right)
We have been growing these for many years in a lightly shaded position beneath a deciduous tree and they seem to love it.
The Algerian Iris comes in a number or forms, and flower color will differ, usually from blue to purple, however other forms are available including :
- A white flowering variety, Iris unguicularis ‘Alba, same flower form but white with yellow’ is also available for sale.
- Named cultivars include :
Iris unguicularis ‘Mary Barnard’ which has darker blue flowers
‘Albington Purple’ smaller flowers and recurved petals, a deeper blue than the purple of the species.
- Iris unguicularis ssp cretensis (syn. Iris unguicularis var angustifolia) is a wonderful dwarf flowering form from southern Greece
Algerian Iris Care
A clump forming rhizome rather than an actual bulb, Iris unguicularis require very little care and seem to thrive on neglect, although a little seaw eed fertilizer at the begriming of winter seems to give them a boost.
Drought tolerant once established Iris unguicularis can also be grown in sun. Propagation is best by division in early spring, or late summer.
Good drainage in summer is important.
Pruning and Dividing
The idea of pruning back the foliage each autumn to allow the flowers to be more readily seen is one that does not really carry much weight. Although the flowers are held close to the ground, they sit neatly in the foliage and are pretty in winter.
Larger clumps will become congested after a number of years and to promote good healthy growth they will need to be divided.
- plant and leave them alone
- do not water except in very dry winters and autumn
- limit fertilizer to one watering of liquid seaweed in spring.
- try to keep snails away from the clumps
- limit pruning to removal of dead foliage in autumn and again in early summer
- divide clumps only when you really need to.
- Botanical Name: Iris unguicularis
- Common Name: Algerian iris
- Origin: Mediterranean region
- Position: Full sun to light shade. Winter sun is best.
- Soil: Well drained slightly alkaline
- Flowers: Shades of lilac too purple with yellow markings.
- Fragrance: Light fragrance.
- Flowering Time: Early too mid winter depending on climate.
- Foliage: Mid to deep Green and strap like.
- Growth habit: Naturally clump forming.
Pruning Algerian Iris
The flowers are held down in the foliage, some gardeners prune the foliage away before flowering to make the flowers more prominent.
Iris unguicularis are available for sale from the following nurseries.
138 Olinda-Monbulk Rd, Olinda VIC 3788
"Large range of rare and unusual plants.."
Other Iris of interest
- Algerian Iris
- Siberian Iris
- Bearded Iris
- Dwarf Bearded Iris
- Dutch Iris
- Iris histriodes
- Iris pallida
- Iris pseudacorus
- Iris reticulata
- Japanese Roof Iris
- Louisiana Iris
- Pacific Coast Iris
- Spuria Iris
- Japanese Iris
- Species Iris
- Iris plants for sale