Dwarf Crested Iris

Iris cristata

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Iris (EYE-ris) (Info)
Species: cristata (kris-TAY-tuh) (Info)
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under 6 in. (15 cm)


3-6 in. (7-15 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Midseason (MLa)




Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Awards (if applicable):

Unknown - Tell us

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama

Morrilton, Arkansas

Gainesville, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Cornelia, Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Plainfield, Illinois

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Portland, Indiana

Perry, Iowa

Barbourville, Kentucky

Salvisa, Kentucky

Buckfield, Maine

Ellicott City, Maryland

Dracut, Massachusetts

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Westford, Massachusetts

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Howell, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Hopkins, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)

Harrisonville, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri

Beatrice, Nebraska

Woodstown, New Jersey

Brooklyn, New York

Jefferson, New York

Oyster Bay, New York

West Kill, New York

Burlington, North Carolina

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Clyde, North Carolina

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Greensboro, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Mount Orab, Ohio

Willoughby, Ohio

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Charleston, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Newport, Tennessee

Viola, Tennessee

Conroe, Texas

Blacksburg, Virginia

Broadway, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Mechanicsville, Virginia

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 11, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A lovely little native woodland iris that spreads vigorously where happy, but does not grow densely enough to smother weeds. The flowers put on a good show, but the bloom season is short.

The foliage is attractive when out of bloom, but often disfigured by slugs. A tough adaptable plant that performs well in deciduous shade, even dry shade.

Easy to propagate by division. Divisions spaced a foot apart will fill in in a season or two


On Apr 27, 2014, Jcmeinster from Conroe, TX wrote:

I'm located about 50 miles north of Houston in Montgomery County this is the second year Since I planted and is coming up again in more numbers than what I originally planted .
It's a little guy with big blooms for it size , beautiful color and proven to be a native reliable ground cover that helps to keep the soil in place .
Note: avoid planting near a squirrel food source tree as squirrels will dig on the ground looking for food and expose the rhizomes , or protect with a wire net .


On May 22, 2012, ms_greenjeans from Hopkins, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Adorable, and tough. I planted some of these last fall under a huge double-trunked cedar, where many other plants have failed. It thrived, multiplied, and bloomed this spring.


On Apr 2, 2011, Erutuon from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

I put this plant in a somewhat dry place next to a tree, and expected it to die because its rhizomes look so small and scrawny, and squirrels dug at it (even cutting off one of the rhizomes), but it survived and grew many new growing tips the next year, forming much wider clump of cute little leaves. This year it's due to bloom, and probably I'll buy more to place around the yard, since it's such a hardy and compact plant.


On May 8, 2010, DMgardener from (Daniel) Mount Orab, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Very small is all I can say, + the fact that the blooms are just tiny! Leaves are lighter green than other Irises, but bloom earlier than most. Flowers are a beautiful lavender blue, with yellow, black, and white markings. An excellent plant! Combines wonderfully with Aquilegia!


On Mar 22, 2010, 2texaslady from Humble, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Iris cristata is a very beautiful little plant. As of yesterday (march 21) one stalk had 7 blossom on it.
This is a great little plant as it's bloom time for us here in Southeast Texas is the same as the old iris Albicans (white cemetery iris) the heirloom iris Kochii ( beautiful dark purple) and the Dyke's Medal winner Dauntless. They have all been blooming for about a week or two. This is one to add to your iris collection for sure!!


On May 9, 2009, KSBaptisia from Beatrice, NE (Zone 5b) wrote:

Beautiful little native iris for a shade garden.


On May 14, 2008, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant grows very well in shade and semi shade. The clumps keep enlarging and it is very floriferous for several weeks in spring. I planted this 3 years ago one, under a Maple and another in the front of a shady border. Both clumps need to be divided this fall and I'm looking forward to trying it in other areas of the garden.


On Jan 25, 2007, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

For the frugal and adventurous, following is some research regarding the germination of Iris cristata seed:

1) from rock garden site

a) "Requires soaking. Place in warm water until seeds swell, usually 24-48 hours."

b) "Sow at 4*C [24-39*F] for 3 months, then place at 20*C [68*F] for 3 months."

2) from 2nd edition of Norman C. Deno's book, Seed Germination Theory and Practice - Deno doesn't have an entry for Iris cristata in this edition, but he does point out that regarding the host of different germination techniques for different iris species, "one size definitely does not fit all." However, the germination patterns that he has discovered among various iris species that require exposure to 40*F at the b... read more


On Dec 19, 2004, rcn48 from Lexington, VA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Lovely dwarf Iris for the spring garden. Although it has a short blooming period, it readily spreads once established and is wonderful planted amongst taller and later flowering perennials.


On Aug 4, 2003, Ladyfern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

The darling flowers are way too short-lived. It blooms from the previous year's growth, so it takes a year to establish and bloom. Drought-tolerant. Forms colonies of little sword-shaped leaves--interesting in the woodland garden.