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Iris tectorum (photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia)
Iris tectorum (photo courtesy of Jerry Pavia)

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Zones 3-9, 14-24, H1, H2
Partial Sun
Regular Water

Iris tectorum

Roof Iris


A large and remarkably diverse group of 200 to 300 species, varying in flower color and form, cultural needs, and blooming periods (although the majority flower in spring or early summer). Leaves are swordlike or grasslike. Flowers (fragrant, in many kinds) are showy and complex in structure.

Iris tectorum

Native to Japan, where it is planted on cottage roofs. Foliage fans to 1 ft. high look like those of bearded irises, but leaves are ribbed and glossy. Flowers suggest an informal bearded iris with fringed petals and crests in place of beards. Colors are violet-blue with white crests or white with yellow crests; standards are upright at first, opening to horizontal as the flower matures. Provide organically enriched soil, light shade, and regular water. Short-lived in regions where summers are hot and dry. ‘Paltec’, a hybrid of I. tectorum with a bearded iris, will grow with bearded irises; it reaches about 1 ft. high, with lavender flowers suggesting a bearded iris with beards superimposed on crests.

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