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Iris Cristata

Making It Grow! Minute logo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One of the native irises that I found listed in the AC Moore Herbarium’s SC Plant Atlas is Iris cristata – dwarf crested iris.   The Herbarium map shows its having been collected in Richland and Kershaw and upwards –probably a good indication that those of us above the fall line could be successful growing this plant in our garden. Unlike most irises, Iris cristata prefers a slightly shaded spot in well-drained, rich soil -- perfect for the edge of a naturalized area. When happy, it will act as an ephemeral ground cover and reward you in the spring with a five inch high carpet of green leaves followed by miniature flowers that are available in a variety of blues and even a rare white. One selection is a naturally occurring tetraploid – Powder Blue Giant – with flowers three inches across. 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.