Dwarf Iris Iris pumila

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
dwarf bearded iris


The Iris pumila, commonly known as dwarf iris, is a perennial plant known for its beautiful and striking appearance. It is characterized by its showy flowers, which typically bloom in a variety of vibrant colors including blues, purples, whites, and yellows. The petals have a delicate yet intricate structure, with the falls (the downward hanging petals) displaying a distinct beard at their center, which can be a contrasting color, often enhancing the flower's allure. The foliage of the dwarf iris is comprised of narrow, sword-shaped leaves that are a rich green color, forming a fan-like arrangement. The leaves emerge from rhizomes which are underground stems that store nutrients and help to spread the plant. The contrast between the vibrant flowers and the green leaves is visually stunning, making the dwarf iris a highly desirable plant for gardens and decorative landscaping. Although this plant is diminutive compared to other members of the iris family, it does not diminish its visual impact; in fact, the dwarf iris is often valued for its compact beauty. It offers a splash of early color, since it is one of the first irises to bloom in the season, signaling the arrival of spring with its vibrant hues and elegant form.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Pygmy Iris, Dwarf Iris, Table Iris

    • Common names

      Iris attica, Iris bohemica, Iris humilis, Iris pumila subsp. attica, Iris pumila var. attica, Iris pumila var. haematophylla, Iris pumila var. mandschurica, Iris ruthenica, Iris suaveolens, Iris suaveolens var. bohemica, Xiphion pumilum.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Dwarf iris, the common name for Iris pumila, contains compounds that can be toxic if ingested by humans. These compounds, particularly irisin, iridin, or irisine, are present in the rhizomes and bulbs. Symptoms of dwarf iris poisoning can include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, exposure to the sap may also cause skin irritation. Ingestion of large quantities can potentially lead to more severe health consequences, hence it is advised to handle the plant with care and prevent consumption.

    • To pets

      Dwarf iris, the common name for Iris pumila, is also considered toxic to pets, including dogs and cats. The toxic principles, which include irisin, iridin, or irisine, are concentrated in the rhizomes and bulbs of the plant. If a pet ingests dwarf iris, symptoms could include gastrointestinal upset, evidenced by drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. If a large amount of the plant is consumed, it could potentially cause more severe symptoms and it is recommended to seek veterinary care immediately if poisoning is suspected.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      0.5 feet (15 centimeters)

    • Spread

      0.5 feet (15 centimeters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      Southeast Europe


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Low maintenance: Iris pumila is known for being easy to care for, not requiring much attention once established.
    • Drought tolerance: This species can survive with minimal watering, making it suitable for xeriscaping or areas with water restrictions.
    • Erosion control: The plant’s root system helps stabilize soil, preventing erosion, especially on slopes.
    • Pollinator attraction: Iris pumila flowers attract bees and other pollinators, supporting biodiversity.
    • Ornamental value: With its vivid flowers and attractive foliage, it adds visual interest to gardens and landscapes.
    • Versatility in landscaping: It can be used as a border, ground cover, or in rock gardens, providing flexibility in garden design.
    • Deer resistance: The plant is typically not a favorite for deer, decreasing the likelihood of damage from grazing.
    • Adaptability: It can tolerate a range of soil types and conditions, from clay to sandy soils, and from acidic to alkaline.
    • Propagation ease: Iris pumila can be easily propagated, allowing gardeners to expand their collection or share with others.
    • Seasonal interest: Its spring bloom provides early color in gardens after winter dormancy.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Iris pumila, commonly known as Dwarf Iris, can be used as a ground cover in landscaping due to its short stature and dense, spreading nature.
    • In floral arrangements, Dwarf Iris provides a delicate touch with its petite blooms, adding contrast to larger flowers.
    • Dwarf Iris's fibrous roots can aid in soil erosion control by stabilizing loose soil in gardens or sloped areas.
    • The plant's hardiness makes it useful for xeriscaping, a landscaping approach that requires minimal irrigation.
    • Because of its vibrant blooms, Dwarf Iris is used in butterfly gardens to attract pollinators.
    • The leaves of Dwarf Iris can provide an interesting textural element in garden designs due to their long, slender form.
    • Gardeners often use Dwarf Iris to create borders along walkways and garden beds, adding structure and color to the design.
    • Dwarf Iris can be a natural indicator of the change in seasons as they are among the first to bloom in spring.
    • Enthusiasts of natural dyeing can use parts of the Dwarf Iris plant to produce green and yellow dyes for textiles.
    • The plant has historical significance and can be used in heritage gardens to represent the flora of specific time periods or regions.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Dwarf Iris is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Dwarf Iris is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Faith: The iris often symbolizes hope and faith, representing belief in a better future or trust in a higher power.
    • Wisdom: In some cultures, the iris is associated with wisdom and cherished for its elegant appearance, which can be seen as a metaphor for knowledge and learning.
    • Courage: The flower's bold hues and upright stance have made it a symbol of courage, inspiring people to face challenges with bravery.
    • Purity: Often used in religious ceremonies, the iris can represent purity of the soul and cleanliness of the mind and heart.
    • Royalty: With its regal presence, the iris is sometimes connected to royalty and nobility, suggesting a noble spirit or royal lineage.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    The Dwarf Iris should be watered deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions to avoid over-saturation and root rot. In general, aim to provide about one inch of water per week, taking into consideration rainfall. During the active growth period in spring and early summer, watering might be increased slightly, especially if there is less rainfall. Once established, Dwarf Iris is relatively drought-tolerant and will require less water. Overhead watering should be avoided to prevent issues with fungal diseases; instead, water at the base of the plant.

  • sunLight

    The Dwarf Iris thrives best in full sun to partial shade conditions. It should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, which encourages healthy growth and optimal blooming. The ideal spot for planting Dwarf Iris would be in an area that gets bright, morning sunlight and some afternoon shade, especially in hotter climates.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Dwarf Iris is hardy and tolerates a wide range of temperatures, ideally flourishing between 35 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It can withstand cold down to around -20 degrees Fahrenheit and can survive brief periods of heat up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, sustained temperatures at these extremes may be harmful.

  • scissorsPruning

    Dwarf Iris should be pruned to remove spent flower stalks after blooming to maintain plant vigor and aesthetic appeal. Additionally, in late fall, trim back dead foliage to tidy the plant and prepare it for winter. Pruning is best done once the flowering has concluded, and then again as the plant enters dormancy.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Dwarf Iris thrives best in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.8-7.0. An ideal soil mix for Dwarf Iris would comprise equal parts of loamy garden soil, peat, and coarse sand or perlite to promote drainage. Amending with compost can add necessary nutrients.

  • plantRepotting

    Dwarf Iris seldom requires frequent repotting as it prefers to be somewhat root-bound. Repotting every 2-3 years or when the clumps become overcrowded is adequate. Divide rhizomes during repotting to propagate or rejuvenate the plant.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Dwarf Iris is tolerant of a wide range of humidity levels and does not require specific humidity conditions. It can thrive in the ambient outdoor humidity in most temperate regions where it is commonly grown.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in a sunny spot, water moderately, and ensure good drainage.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in a sunny area, ensure proper drainage, divide every few years.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Iris pumila, commonly known as Dwarf Iris, begins its life cycle when its seeds germinate in late spring to early summer, typically requiring a period of stratification to break dormancy. Once germinated, the seedlings grow into juvenile plants, developing a root system and foliage in the form of sword-shaped leaves. As the plant matures, it forms rhizomes, which are horizontal underground stems that store nutrients and help the plant to spread. The next stage of growth is the flowering phase, which occurs in late spring, when Dwarf Iris produces vibrant, colorful flowers that attract pollinators for sexual reproduction. Following pollination, the flowers develop into seed pods, which eventually dry and open to release seeds, completing the reproductive cycle. Throughout its life, Iris pumila may also propagate vegetatively through its rhizomes, creating clones of the parent plant.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to summer

    • Dwarf Iris, scientifically known as Iris pumila, is most commonly propagated through division, preferably undertaken in late summer after the blooming season has ended. This involves gently lifting the clump of rhizomes from the ground using a spade or fork, shaking off excess soil, and then carefully separating the rhizomes by hand or with a knife. Each division should have at least one fan of leaves and a portion of the rhizome with roots attached. It's important to replant the divisions as soon as possible to prevent the rhizomes from drying out. The new planting holes should be spaced about 12 to 18 inches (approximately 30 to 45 centimeters) apart to give each plant enough space to grow. The top of the rhizome should be planted just at or slightly below the surface of the soil, and then the plant should be well-watered to help establish it.