Iris reticulata “Cantab”

Iris Cantab

This Iris reticulata is called “Cantab”; the pale blue flowers with their bright yellow nectar guide will help the early season insects find their prize.  We plant many of our bulbs in terracotta pots covered with a layer of ornamental gravel, which not only is decorative it also assists drainage and offer some protection from our little furry friends.  The gravel does seem to deter the mice, although I am not sure if this is because it masks any bulb scent (if such a thing exists) or that they don’t want to hurt their little paws.

This dwarf iris species is called reticulata as the bulb is covered with a fibrous net.  They are native to the Middle East which should give us a clue as to why it can sometimes be tricky to keep them in fine form year after year.  Just as with any plant it is happiest when you can recreate, as far as possible, its conditions in the wild.  As these include hot, dry summer (not the only thing that would thrive on one of those), you can understand the problem.  This gives us another reason for pot culture: it is much easier to keep pots dry and protect them from another of their adversaries, slugs and snails.  If all else fails they are inexpensive and readily available so can be treated as an annual, replaced each year, without much guilt.  Only reaching 10-15cm  high, they may be small but are definitely perfectly formed and cannot fail to bring a smile to your face in late winter and early spring.



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7 responses to “Iris reticulata “Cantab”

  1. Hi Gill
    I bought a tray of 24 Iris reticulata quite cheaply from a garden centre last year, just as flowering had finished. I only paid 20p each so quite a bargain I thought. I planted them in amongst my small stand of silver birch trees and, one cold and frosty morning, bowl of muesli in hand, I watched two grey squirrels dig the whole lot up and eat them!

  2. I am working on a painting of Iris reticulata and it will appear on my next post (whenever that might be). In the painting, the tiny flower and its intricate markings are greatly enlarged. I had never fully realized the beauty of these flowers until I had to look so closely at them. I did not know the meaning of reticulata until I read your post. I grow them in pots, too.

    My computer crashed and died, so I have been dealing with acquiring and setting up a new one. Luckily, I was fairly well backed up, though I did lose all of my photographs of Iris reticulata and they are finished now. Sigh. I would much rather be gardening or painting.

    • Oh dear what a nightmare! You are welcome to use my photo if it is any good. Would you like me to e-mail you a bigger version as I shrink them for the blog. Looking forward to seeing your painting. Hope you have a good week x

      • Your photo is quite good and I would like to link to your post from mine, if that’s okay. I think I will use my own photos of other sorts of Iris and make the text more generally about Irises. I’ve had Irises in every one of my gardens and I’m very fond of them all.

      • No problem, I love them all too!

  3. Pingback: Iris reticulata | the painting gardener

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