Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tall Bearded Iris
Iris 'Midnight Oil'

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Iris (EYE-ris) (Info)
Cultivar: Midnight Oil
Hybridized by Keppel; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1997

» View all varieties of Iris

13 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tall Bearded (TB)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 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:
Full Sun

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

Bloom Color:
Dark Purple/Black

Bloom Time:
Midseason (M)


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

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):
Honorable Mention
Award of Merit
Walther Cup

Click thumbnail
to view:

By mountaineer
Thumbnail #1 of Iris  by mountaineer

By Margiempv
Thumbnail #2 of Iris  by Margiempv

By Margiempv
Thumbnail #3 of Iris  by Margiempv

Thumbnail #4 of Iris  by TBGDN

By Tntigger
Thumbnail #5 of Iris  by Tntigger

By Tntigger
Thumbnail #6 of Iris  by Tntigger

By Sherrygirl
Thumbnail #7 of Iris  by Sherrygirl

There are a total of 15 photos.
Click here to view them all!


5 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive lindypuddin On Mar 8, 2012, lindypuddin from stony mountain, MB (Zone 3a) wrote:

planted this iris slightly shaded 2010 zone 3a

one word to describe ? stunning

i'm so careful with this's slightly raised from the soil, watered regularly, and fertilized in the early-spring and
early fall, i know 'they' say don't fertilize in fall...but i find in
this zone it helps the plants draw energy for winter.
i also leave dead foliage to form a mat over the plant, it keeps the moisture from rotting the rhizome.

Positive azulivines On Jul 4, 2010, azulivines from Burnaby, BC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Huge, fragrant, and black. This is the only iris I would classify as black. The beard is fuzzy-purple which, at first, makes you think you've got one interesting caterpillar on your flowers.

Our absolutle favourite german iris by far!

Positive philljm On Jun 15, 2010, philljm from Hustisford, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant bloomed the first year, with gorgeous deep purple, almost black flowers. everyone that saw it raved about it. It is tall, bloomed around the 10th of June in south central Wisconsin, and I may stake it next year, a strong storm battered it down, but didn't harm it.

Neutral Joan On Mar 19, 2006, Joan from Belfield, ND (Zone 4a) wrote:

Awards: American Iris Society Honorable Mention 2000; Walther Cup 2000; Award of Merit 2002

Positive TBGDN On Feb 18, 2006, TBGDN from (Zone 5a) wrote:

MIDNIGHT OIL: (Keith Keppel, R. 1997). Sdlg. 91-174A. TB 36" (91 cm) M. "Black self, darker than eggplant (M&P 48-H-12), F. with slight velvet finish; style arms darker than port (56-E-12); beards grape (47-JL-12); slight sweet fragrance. 88-45C: ((Snowbrook x Blackout) x 84-93B, Light Show sib) X Before the Storm., Keppel 1998." The preceding data was researched from the American Iris Society. This is one of the 'blackest' irises I grow along with Anvil Of Darkness, Before The storm, and Obsidian. They don't come much darker than these. It bloomed the first year after planting for me on two stems with several buds. I was surprised a first year iris would send up two bloom stalks! I'm very positive about this one as it seems to have a more refined form and ruffles than other blacks. Seems very hardy.

Neutral doss On Mar 15, 2005, doss from Stanford, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

(Keppel, 97) Mid season bloomer. 36" Fragrant
"Fine black self with grape beards. Exceptional grower with excellent branching and nice ruffles." This Iris was awarded the American Iris Society Honorable Mention '00; and the Award of Merit '02.
Note from Cooley's Iris Gardens

Positive mountaineer On Jun 8, 2003, mountaineer from Manhattan, KS wrote:

This iris has done very well for me. It blooms late in zone 5. It is probably the closest to a black iris that I have seen. Very velvety and beautiful


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

Tucson, Arizona (2 reports)
Citrus, California
Emeryville, California
Gainesville, Georgia
Eastport, Idaho
Macy, Indiana
Hebron, Kentucky
Durham, Maine
Gladwin, Michigan
Marquette, Michigan
Robertsville, Missouri
Omaha, Nebraska
South Sioux City, Nebraska
Las Vegas, Nevada
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Lawton, Oklahoma
Gold Hill, Oregon
Greeneville, Tennessee
Pasco, Washington
Hustisford, Wisconsin

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