Irises in February?

Cherry Butler

Winter and spring

The iris in flower during the winter months is iris unguicularis. It’s low-growing, pale mauve and even scented! During February and March the delightful Iris reticulata and Iris danfordiae come into their own in an array of mauves, blues, creams and yellows. It’s a miniature bulb so perfect for the rock garden or containers. There are many new hybrids available on the market.

Summer into autumn

Iris germanica or the bearded iris is probably the most widely recognised but often in the wrong place. They grow from rhizomes which they enjoy being baked in the sun on poor sandy soil. The range of colours is infinite! Cultivars like Cruise to Autumn, Autumn Princess and Autumn Circus as their name suggests can flower much later in the year so look out for them to extend the season.

Irises in the wet?

The yellow flag iris I. pseudacorus is a familiar sight grown as a marginal in ponds. I. sibirica can be grown in the bog garden. Both make large clumps and can be divided readily.

Surely not shade too?

Yes a few irises will grow wild in woodlands and hedgerows, notably I. foetidissima with its pale flowers followed by bright orange berries. Often called the stinking iris as when you cut it back the leaves are somewhat pungent!

Consultancy & Cathie’s Garden Army

I can spend half a day in your garden identifying your plants and teaching you how to look after them. I can advise also on planting projects and design as well as helping you with tasks such as pruning. If you have lost control of your garden completely we are here to help! A qualified team of can transform your garden in a day following a consultancy.

RHS courses

New for February small and exclusive groups for dedicated students! Email [email protected], visit and follow Cathie’s Gardening School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.