Iris gracilipes

Submitted by Leonard Lehman on Tue, 06/18/2013 - 12:29

I have always liked Iris gracilipes as a choice woodland or shady rock garden plant. However, for me it seems to be a short lived perennial, lasting only a few years before it disappears. Does anyone have any cultural tips to make it last longer? Also, has anyone germinated it from seed? If you follow Norm Deno's advice from his book on seed germination,most iris require a 2yr cycle for gerination-wet-cold then dry-hot, then wet cold and finally dry hot but I have had Iris milesii germinate in one season. Any help will be greatly appreciated         Len Lehman


Submitted by Mark McD on Tue, 06/18/2013 - 16:11

Hello Len, I grow Iris gracilipes, but in two cultivars versus the regular species, one is the dwarf white 'Buko' (on the right), and the second is one called 'Cobblewood Charm' (on the left), a hybrid between the dwarf 'Buko' and regular gracilipes, it is rather intermediate in size (semi-dwarf), and lovely veined lavender flowers.  I find them long lived, although I've had old dense clumps of 'Buko' depart in the past; I believe they need to be "refreshed" from being divided every few years.  Mine do set seed, although too much rain can ruin seed set.  I treat the seed as I do any spring ephemeral and other woodland Iris, I sow the seed immediately after harvest and typically get germination the following spring, they do not need a two year cycle that I've noticed.

PS: welcome to the NARGS Forum, you have joined during our fledgling days of a new forum format.


Len, glad to see you here at our new forum format that began just last week.  We are all getting familiar with it, just as you are!


I grew Iris gracillipes alba for 6 years in a quite dry 3/4 day sun area.  Leave would bleach to a chartreuse green, much like a hosta would, but it bloomed well every year.  Then I divided and moved it to a dappled shade, richer soil and normal moisture.  The last three years it has been only limping along and has not flowered.  Not sure what this all means, but I'm just sayin'.

So far, I have had one seed germinate out of five from the SIGNA seed ex.  It took two years with outside conditions.

Rick, I learned the hard way many years ago to leave my plants where they were if they were happy, even if the books (and growers) said they needed different conditions.  I once had Phlox caespitosa blooming every year and seemingly very happy in a spot that had half day sun.  Then I saw a photo in a book and thought that mine was not that great because I could see some of the foliage when it was in bloom.  The book said full sun so I moved it and of course lost it.  Iris gracilipes grows for me in open north, which means quite a lot of sun even though it faces north.  It blooms beautifully and there are always some seedlings under the "skirt" of foliage.  Every garden is different.