March 19th, 2002
Dutch Iris


Dutch iris ‘H. C. van Vliet’. Austin, Texas.

Last fall, I impulsively bought two packages of Dutch iris from Home Depot. The grower listed is Van Zyverden. This is the first year I’ve tried to grow bulbous irises. But my Mom, in Las Vegas, has great luck with hers. The packages did not provide much information, so I gleaned the following from the net.

Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’
Dwarf or miniature irises (to 4 inches tall) with proportionally large flowers. ‘Harmony’ is cornflower blue with yellow accents. Should bloom in February. Suited for pots or rock gardens.

Iris xiphium hybrid ‘Van Vliet’
(I assume this is ‘H C van Vliet’)
A group of hybrid irises, commonly known as Dutch irises, developed by the Dutch firm Tubergen from the Spanish iris, Iris xiphium, and Iris tingitana. Requires rich, well-drained soil and grows well in zones 8 and 9. Blooms in June or July. Height to 24 inches. Makes a good cut flower.

“…a bitoned blue with midblue standards and lighter blue falls with a small orange signal. Mid season bloom.” Graeme Grosvenor. Iris: Flower of the Rainbow. p. 208.


* World Online: Dutch Iris
* American Iris Society

Unable to find any specific growing guidelines on the net, I turned to Graeme Grosvenor’s Iris: Flower of the Rainbow and came across these encouraging passages.

I. xiphium “bulbs grow naturally in hot, dry summer conditions and unless you can provide soil that is hot and dry in summer and not overly cold in winter, the bulbs should be lifted…” Well if that doesn’t describe Austin weather exactly. The next paragraph is equally encouraging.

“I. xiphium will grow best in a heavy soil with good drainage…They enjoy an alkaline soil.”

Garden History

According to the package instruction, in the South (zones 7, 8, or 9) Dutch Irises need to be chilled six to eight weeks before planting. So, dutifully, I put the ones I bought last fall in the fridge and didn’t get around to planting them until today. The ‘Harmony’ bulbs were already drying out, so it’s obvious that I waited too long.

‘H C van Vliet’ blooms. It’s the first and, probably, only flower for 2002. The hard freeze in late February froze the buds just as they were emerging from the ground.

The Dutch iris bulbs, ‘H C van Vliet’; are sprouting. I dug them up separated and replanted them in the same spot by the ‘Heritage’ rose. There are 11 rooted bulbs sprouting and 7 bulbets.

Although the plants grew well this year, they didn’t bloom. (The Iris reticulata didn’t come back at all.) Apparently to flower Iris xiphium need a longer cold period than we get here in Austin. I dig them up and will chill them this fall before replanting them. Given how cheap they are, it’s probably not worth the trouble. Especially since I only had one flower in two years.

I thought I had lost these over the years but this year they bloomed again, and better than ever.

Dug these up.

Moved them to the front yard, east square ahead of construction in May of 2016. They really liked being lifted and moved, and they bloomed very well in the spring of 2017.

Dug these up again because they didn’t bloom at all in the spring of 2018…a huge disappointment after their great show in the spring of 2017. Will chill them before replanting them this fall.

by M Sinclair Stevens

7 Responses to post “Dutch Iris”

  1. From Marilyn (Phoenix):

    I too bought dutch iris several years ago from Home Depot here in Phoenix, AZ. My soil is a mixture of the clay soil of Phoenix, and humus from Home Depot. My bulbs have been in the ground for about 7 years and have grown and multiplied with abandon. Since I want to change the beds where they are located this year I am digging them up. I think I have enough to plant my entire yard if I’d want to. I enjoy them each spring and love that I don’t have to do anything to them but enjoy. I have purple, white, yellow and a mixture of blue and white flowers. Since I don’t know which bulbs are what my new gardens should be a riot.

    Marilyn, they must like the dry soil of the desert. My mom in Las Vegas has success with them too. However, here in central Texas, mine all rotted away after a couple of years. — mss

  2. From Joyce Poinsett:

    I got some seeds from my neighbors dutch iris. Can you plant those? There were several seeds in a big seed pod. I would appreciate an answer if anyone knows.

  3. From Leslie:

    Marilyn, I am in El Paso and about to plant some “Dainty Dutch Iris Bulbs. When did you water yours. A web site says not to water until growth appears.

    Also, has anyone ever used Terra-Sorb Hydragel and what were your results?

  4. From Sergeant Major:

    Looking for information on planting and raising “Iris/Dutch Iris” from seed. I had one (1) tall (30-31″) Iris come up this year. It produced 12 seeds. I just planted them in single seed small plant trays, and have them under lights. I’m using a spritzer to water them. Is there any special fertilizer, i.e. 4-12-4, etc. Any and all help appreciated.

    Sorry, I can’t help you. I’ve never tried to raise Dutch iris from seed and the only bulbs I had died long ago. Mayb. one of my clever readers can help. –mss

  5. From Cis from Dallas:

    I just opened my dutch iris seed pods & am going to plant the seeds. Did Sargeant Major have any luck with his?

  6. From Nancy , Missouri:

    I would like to know how to divide the Dutch Iris bulb. I think they are dutch iris, they have rings or sections on the bulb. I am new to iris’s in my garden. I have divided the old fashioned iris but they are easy to divide. I am having trouble determining where to divide these slender, almost like an armadilla skin bulbs. Any help is appreciated.

    Sorry I can’t be of any help. I didn’t have any luck growing Dutch irises so I never got to the point where I needed o divide them. — mss

  7. From Vic:

    I first planted six dutch iris bulbs about 4 years ago. This year I thinned them. Some I moved to other areas of the garden, some I shared with friends. I dug up the mounds in fall when I first saw growth. Determining where to divide would have been easy as they had eyes growing but in actuality the bulbs readily divided themselves. The majority of the transplants seem to be doing well. The foliage of some of the smaller bulbs have faded even tho I’ve a month to go till bloom. I’m not concerned as I expect them to return next year anyway.