Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Japanese Water Iris, Japanese Flag, Russian Iris
Iris ensata 'Variegata'

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Iris (EYE-ris) (Info)
Species: ensata (en-SA-tuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Variegata

Synonym:Iris kaempferi

» View all varieties of Iris

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

3 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Japanese (JA)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

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)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Midseason (MLa)


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

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

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Awards (if applicable):
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2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Dec 5, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

We've been growing this more for the foliage than for the flowers with their short season. The white-variegated leaves have a silvery effect when viewed from a distance, and though they green up somewhat as they age, they still show some silver as frost approaches. Unlike siberian iris, whose foliage splays open untidily as the summer wears on, Iris ensata foliage remains upright throughout the season.

Plants perform well in well-drained acid border soil and not just in water/bog gardens.

According to Armitage, this is hardy to Z4.

Positive Terry On Jan 29, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I'm tempted to give away all my plain yellow and purple water iris, and start over with the variegated types - they have so much more interesting foliage when they're not in bloom (which is the majority of the time!)


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

Dracut, Massachusetts
East Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Southold, New York
Canby, Oregon
Okatie, South Carolina
Mc Lean, Virginia

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