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Iris Varieties That Prefer Moist Soil vs Iris That Prefer Being Submer

Iris Varieties That Prefer Moist Soil vs Iris That Prefer Being Submerged In Water

Please Note: This article is about which iris can take temporary water and which iris can be planted with their rhizomes fully emerged in water at all times.

Many iris are sold as pond or bog iris, though they come from various species. Each species can tolerate varying amounts of water. Some can take only temporary flooding, others are true water iris and must be submerged at all times. Still others can handle being completely submerged at all times, OR out of the pond altogether! 

Ensata Iris is a Japanese Iris (but not a Japanese water iris). Ensata Iris cannot tolerate long term water submission. They need oxygen around their roots and need to be above the water several times a year. Bog areas are best with temporary flooding for 1-3 months at most. This makes them great for shallow creeks or streams. Ensata Iris are native to Japan, Northern China and Eastern Russia. 

Depending on location, Ensata Iris bloom in June or July. They are hardy in zones 4-9. Ensata Iris grow from 2-4' tall and are extremely beautiful. They have broad, full faces and come in shades of blues, purples, pinks and whites.


Louisiana Iris can live in or out of the water. Depth of water can be up to 5" with the tallest varieties, growing to heights of 2-5' tall. Colors are white, yellow, peach, pink, purple blue and red with every color pattern imaginable. Thousands of varieties exist. Hardy in zones 5-11 and can be planted in full sun to part shade.


Iris Pseudachorus are native to Northwest Africa, Western Asia and Europe. This group includes yellow flag iris which is a true water iris and can be planted in up to 6" of water. This a pretty specimen, but often invasive as every seed is fertile. The yellow flag iris is often listed as invasive in many states. A white form and variegated form exist as well.

*Amazing advances have been made recently by hybridizing Iris Pseudachorus with Japanese Iris, in the hopes of getting yellow pigment into Japanese Iris. Scientists and hybridizers have had success getting yellow pigments as well as amazing eye shadow signal pattern. These new crosses are called Pseudata Iris.

These new Pseudata Iris are hardy to zone 4, have stunning flowers and are robust growers, especially when in or around water growing to 5' tall.  Pseudata Iris adapt extremely well in a flower bed, growing to 3' tall or taller. These iris have 3-4 branches and 10-16 buds. Once established, these iris stay in bloom for about three weeks. This new, intersubgeneric cross is sterile and will not become invasive and will not spread into waterways.

Some of the new crosses we sell are 1.) Golden Monkey, a stunning yellow with rose blush overlay and deep burgundy halos, grows to 3' tall in full sun to part shade 2.) Big Mirror, White with vivid burgundy halo, grows to 3' tall in full sun to part shade and 3.) Moonlit Field, Lavender with purple halo and edge, grows to 45" tall in full sun to part shade




Iris Virginica or Blue Flag Iris, is a United States native species and prefers moist soil in wooded areas. They grow well in shallow or moving water and are great for naturalizing. There are numerous forms or crosses available today from light blue, pink, purple and blue. Iris Virginica can be grown in full sun to part shade. Depending on location, bloom time is usually June. Iris Virginica grow 1-3' tall, depending on form and are hardy in zones 5-9. Iris Virginica can tolerate up to 6 inches of water over the rhizome. 


Iris Laevigata is a true water iris. It is also known as Japanese Water Iris or Rabbit Ears. This is a perfect species for water gardeners! May be submerged in 2-6" of water and can be grown in full sun to part shade. 






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