Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tall Bearded Iris
Iris 'Seafarer'

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Iris (EYE-ris) (Info)
Cultivar: Seafarer
Hybridized by Butterick; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1948

» View all varieties of Iris

2 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tall Bearded (TB)

24-36 in. (60-90 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:
Light Blue

Bloom Time:
Midseason (M)
Late Midseason (MLa)


Other details:
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:
Unknown - Tell us

Awards (if applicable):
Honorable Mention

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Joan
Thumbnail #1 of Iris  by Joan


1 positive
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral Joan On Jun 30, 2011, Joan from Belfield, ND (Zone 4a) wrote:

Awards: Honorable Mention 1949

Neutral faeden On Jun 26, 2011, faeden from SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Because Dave's Garden had no verifiable information on Iris Seafarer, we wrote to the Historic Iris Preservation Society. Here is the response from Mike Unser:

"Here's what I have found.

Checklist: Seafarer TB M B1M (Butterick N. [meaning not-introduced - but that is not correct]) R. 1948 (The Admiral X Great Lakes), HM 1949

[From the] Fairmount Gardens catalog for 1956: (Butterick 1949) ML The name suggests the clear blue water of the sea and is most appropriate. All that have seen this iris praise it highly and are impressed not only by the clarity of blue color, but by the perfection of form and sturdy growth. It is a true self, smooth and free from self veining that so often mars the beauty of an iris. The color is clean and pure and more blue than any of the newer blue iris of similar color depth. The standards are firmly domed with no tendency to open at any time. The falls flaring and in excellent proportion so that the flowers structurally present a most pleasing appearance. Smooth firm substanced flowers, fine low branching.

Fairmount introduced alot of Butterick irises, maybe all of them. [Mrs. Nesmith] probably introduced it in 1949 and they failed to notify the registrar. Mrs. Nesmith was known to set a high standard so her description is trustworthy.

I don't know what that iris is at Dave's Garden but it is not Seafarer as registered with AIS. It looks to be something from pre-1900 given the narrow petals and long form. Attached is a photo of Seafarer from the HIPS Slide Library. It was photographed in Mrs. Nesmith's Display Garden (from where it was introduced in '49) during an AIS Convention tour there."

I have seen the photo, and it is definitely a blue Iris, not a purple one, and its beard is also blue, not yellow and white. We are awaiting permission from the Historic Iris Preservation Society to post the photo. Hopefully we will get it soon.

Positive bitterdregs On May 14, 2011, bitterdregs from Williamsport, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

The plant files are wrong on this iris and I don't know how to change them. This blooms very early season. Mid May. It is highly prolific. It is bright purple, NOT light blue. There is only one known photo of seafarer and the picture is faded hence why people think it's light blue/grey. That pic was taken in the 50's. I just submitted a new picture I took this morning. I'm not sure how long it will take to show up. It's very pretty for an older iris and will fill your garden space quickly. Bright purple with yellow and white beards.

Neutral 1913cat On Sep 16, 2008, 1913cat from Robertsville, MO (Zone 5b) wrote:

Came from someone who has an old catalog. Hybridized by Butterick 1949.

Neutral planter64 On Jun 20, 2003, planter64 from Alexandria, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This cultivar mentioned on page 27 of The Iris Book, Molly Price, Dover Publications, Inc., 1973, color in the medium-blue range. This must be an old cultivar...not listed anywhere on the internet.


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

Robertsville, Missouri
Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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