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

March 19th, 2002
Dutch Iris

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.