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Iris veriscolor – Blueflag Iris

Iris veriscolor – Blueflag Iris

Iris versicolor, commonly known as the larger blue flag iris, is an herbaceous herb that reaches 2 to 2.5 feet tall. It prefers to grow in rich, moist soils and is happy in wet areas of pond margins, wet meadows, and marshy areas where it multiplies naturally forming clumps.  It can also be grown in containers in ponds in up to 4 inches of standing water.  The larger blue flag iris is native to Canada and the United States spanning south from Nova Scotia into the middle and northeastern United States to Virginia.  Blue flag iris thrives in full sun and tolerates partial shade where it forms a mass of blue lavender to white blooms. The blooms are formed of three upright inner standards and three distinctly marked sepals or falls.  The large 4-inch flowers bloom in late spring to early summer with several (3-5) on a naked stalk of up to 30 inches.  They are variably colored blue to lavender and purple with yellow splotches, white markings and striking veining on the falls.  The leaves are narrow and strap-like 1 inch wide and up to 24 inches long crossing at the base to be fan-like.  Though the fruit forms as a capsule, this plant propagates best by division of the rhizomes after blooms fade.

“It’s specific epithet, versicolor, is derived from this plant’s ability to produce many-colored blooms while the common name, “flag”, comes from an old English word (flagge) for reeds and refers to its natural preference to wetlands.” (North Carolina Extension)


Additional information


6-Pack, 9-Pack, Single


Herbaceous Perennial



Native Range

Northeastern North America


3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Height Range (ft.)

2.00 to 2.50

Spread (ft.)

2.00 to 2.50

Bloom Time

June, May

Bloom Description

Violet Blue


Full Sun, Part Shade


Medium, Wet





Suggested Use

Naturalize, Rain Garden, Water Plant


Deer, Wet Soil

Product Description

Iris Versicolor Botany by Dr. John Hilty
1344 original - Iris veriscolor - Blueflag Iris

Faunal Associations:
  • “The flowers are cross-pollinated by bumblebees and long-horned bees (Synhalonia spp.); butterflies and skippers also visit the flowers occasionally, but they are less effective at cross-pollination. These insects suck nectar from the flowers primarily, although some of the bees also collect pollen.” (Hilty)

1347 original - Iris veriscolor - Blueflag Iris

Long-horned Bees are known to visit Iris versicolor flowers. 

Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Iridaceae
Native Range: Northeastern North America
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Violet blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Wet Soil

  1.  “Iris versicolor Quebec” Copyrighted free use
  2. Iris versicolor whole plant” By Dlanglois assumed (based on copyright claims). –  Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0
  3. Northern Blue Flag (Iris versicolor), Ottawa, Ontario” By D. Gordon E. Robertson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

North Carolina Extension description:  Iris Versicolor (Harlequin Blueflag, Large Blue Iris, Larger Blue Flag Iris, Northern Blue Flag) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox Accessed 16 Feb. 2022.

Botanical Illustration: “Plate XVI” By uwdigitalcollections – Iris versicolor, Blue flag, or flower de luce, Uploaded by Magnus Manske, CC BY 2.0,

“Long-horned Bees are known to visit Iris versicolor flowers” : Eucera cinnamomea” By Gideon Pisanty (Gidip) גדעון פיזנטי – Own work, CC BY 3.0,


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