Spanish Iris Iris xiphium

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
Spanish iris


The plant known as the Spanish Iris typically showcases elegant and slender leaves that are sword-like in shape, giving it a very streamlined and sharp appearance. These leaves emerge from the base of the plant, creating a tight clump that adds to the plant's ornamental charm. The flowers of the Spanish Iris are its most striking feature. They bloom with exquisite colors that can range from deep purples and blues to yellows, whites, and sometimes patterns that incorporate various hues or speckles. Each blossom exhibits a beautiful, classic shape, consisting of several segments: three upright petals called standards, and three outer petal-like sepals that droop elegantly and are often referred to as falls. The falls may have a different color or pattern compared to the standards, creating a delightful contrast. In the center of the falls, you can typically find a beard or crest—a strip of small, fuzzy or brush-like structures—which can be quite prominent and adds an extra touch of flair to the flowers' appearance. The Spanish Iris carries its gorgeous flowers on sturdy, upright stalks that rise gracefully from amongst the foliage, culminating in a display that is both striking and architecturally pleasing. The arrangement of the flowers is such that they make this plant a popular choice for cut floral arrangements, as well as a highlight in garden beds and borders. The visual impact of the Spanish Iris, with its combination of stately leaves and resplendent blossoms, creates a spectacle of colors and shapes that is deeply admired by gardeners and flower enthusiasts alike.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Spanish Iris, Dutch Iris, Bulbous Iris, Xiphium Iris

    • Common names

      Iris xiphium var. praecox, Xiphion vulgare, Xiphion xiphium

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-2 feet (30-60 cm)

    • Spread

      0.5-1 foot (15-30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      Spain, Portugal


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Iris xiphium, commonly known as Spanish Iris, is highly regarded for its attractive flowers, which add aesthetic appeal to gardens and landscapes.
    • Diversity in Color: These irises come in a range of vibrant colors including blues, purples, yellows, and whites, allowing for varied design and color schemes in gardens.
    • Low Maintenance: Spanish Iris is known for being fairly low maintenance once established, requiring minimal care and being able to survive with less water compared to some other garden plants.
    • Drought Tolerance: It exhibits a degree of drought tolerance, making it suitable for regions with less rainfall or for gardeners seeking to reduce water usage.
    • Seasonal Interest: The Spanish Iris blooms in late spring to early summer, providing seasonal interest and beauty to the garden when many other plants may not be in flower.
    • Attracts Pollinators: The flowers of Iris xiphium attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which are vital for the pollination of many plants and the overall health of gardens.
    • Cut Flowers: These irises are excellent for cutting gardens; their long, sturdy stems and attractive blooms make them ideal for flower arrangements and bouquets.
    • Propagation: Spanish Iris can be easily propagated through division, making it simpler for gardeners to expand their plantings or share with others.
    • Hardiness: It is relatively hardy and resistant to many common garden pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical treatments.
    • Companion Planting: They work well as part of a mixed border, complementing other flowering plants and foliage to create a full and vibrant garden display.

  • 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

    • The bulb of the Iris xiphium, commonly known as the Spanish iris, can be used as a natural source of starch for laundry purposes, providing stiffness to fabrics.
    • The plant's dried roots are sometimes used in potpourri to add fragrance and texture to the mixture.
    • Spanish iris can be part of a natural dyeing process, with the flowers and leaves yielding different hues for fabrics and crafts.
    • Floral arrangements often feature Spanish iris as they have a long vase life and their striking appearance provides an elegant touch.
    • Garden designers use Spanish iris to create 'living walls', a vertical gardening concept that adds beauty and greenery to urban spaces.
    • Due to their unique shape, Spanish iris flowers can be used in crafting, such as making decorative paper flowers for events and home decor.
    • The water from boiled Spanish iris roots is sometimes used in traditional crafts for its adhesive properties in paper mache projects.
    • Spanish iris can play a role in companion planting, being placed next to vegetables like carrots and tomatoes to enhance their growth through pest deterrence.
    • The rigid leaves of the Spanish iris may be utilized in weaving small baskets or as part of homemade reed diffusers for spreading essential oil scents.
    • These plants are sometimes incorporated into educational settings, as they are ideal for teaching students about bulbous plant growth and care.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Spanish Iris is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Spanish Iris is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Royalty: Often associated with regal presence due to its striking appearance and royal purple color common in some varieties.
    • Faith: The iris is a symbol of hope and faith, representing belief and trust in something beyond oneself.
    • Wisdom: It's linked to wisdom through its connection to the Greek goddess Iris, who was a messenger of the gods and personification of the rainbow and wisdom.
    • Valor: In historic times, the iris flower symbolized valor and bravery, particularly in battle.
    • Purity: White irises are symbolic of purity and innocence, making them a popular choice in wedding bouquets and decorations.

Every 7-10 days
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Spanish Irises typically require moderate watering during their growing season in the spring and early summer. Water them deeply once a week, providing about 1 to 1.5 inches of water each time, which translates to approximately 0.62 gallons per square yard of soil. During the dormant period in late summer, reduce watering significantly to encourage the bulbs to rest. Overwatering or allowing the bulbs to sit in waterlogged soil can cause rot, so ensure proper drainage. Adjust the watering frequency and amount based on rainfall and temperature, as too much water can be as harmful as too little.

  • sunLight

    Spanish Irises thrive best in full sun, where they can receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Plant them in a location that's open and receives plenty of bright light to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. However, if you live in an area with extremely hot summers, some afternoon shade will help protect the flowers from intense heat.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Spanish Irises prefer a temperate climate and do well in temperatures ranging between 35 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate cold down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit but should be protected from harsh winter conditions. The ideal temperature for Spanish Irises to flourish is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, where they can produce their vibrant flowers without stress from extreme heat or cold.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Spanish Irises after they finish blooming, usually by removing the spent flower stems down to the base of the plant. This helps to prevent the plant from directing energy into seed production and promotes healthy growth for the next season. Additionally, prune any damaged or diseased leaves as necessary. The best time for pruning Spanish Irises is in the late summer when they enter dormancy.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Spanish Iris prefers well-draining soil rich in organic matter with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. A mix of loamy garden soil, compost, and sharp sand or perlite is ideal to ensure good drainage and fertility.

  • plantRepotting

    The Spanish Iris typically requires repotting every two to three years to rejuvenate the soil and divide overcrowded bulbs. It's best done after the flowering season.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Spanish Iris thrives in average humidity levels and does not require any special humidity conditions beyond what is typically found outdoors in its growing zones.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright light, well-draining soil, moderate watering.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in full sun, well-draining soil, water when dry.

    • Hardiness zone

      6-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Spanish iris typically begins its life cycle when seeds germinate in favorable conditions, generally requiring well-drained soil and adequate moisture. The seedlings develop into juvenile plants, producing narrow, sword-like leaves characteristic of the Iris genus. As the plants mature, they form bulbs underground which serve as energy storage organs, allowing the plant to persist through unfavorable seasons. Upon reaching maturity, the Spanish iris sends up flowering stalks in late spring or early summer, which culminate in showy blossoms that vary in color, often exhibiting shades of blue, purple, yellow, or white. After pollination, often by insects, the flowers produce seed capsules containing seeds that, when dispersed, can give rise to new plants, thus completing the life cycle. Additionally, the Spanish iris can propagate vegetatively through division of the bulbs, allowing for the expansion of clonal colonies.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The Spanish Iris, or Iris xiphium, is most commonly propagated through division. The best time to propagate by division is post-flowering, which is typically late summer to early fall. To propagate through division, the clumps of bulbs are carefully dug up and the bulbs are separated by gently pulling them apart. Each bulb should have a portion of the roots attached. After separation, the bulbs are replanted at a depth roughly twice the height of the bulb, spaced about 4 inches (10 centimeters) apart to allow for growth. The soil should be well-draining, and the location should receive full sun to partial shade. This method not only helps to rejuvenate older clumps that have become too dense but also allows gardeners to increase their stock of the Spanish Iris effectively.