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You might have heard of dinner plate Dahlias but Irises?! Iris ensata, sometimes known as Iris kaempferi or Japanese Iris, are a stunning group of moisture loving Iris I have long been fascinated with. They are hardy and perennial.   The new Dinner Plate Series however are brand new, superior breeding with huge blooms 15cm (6in) across. The gorgeous double flowers are a real eye-catcher from June onwards. They are also disease resistant.These Dinner Plate Iris with their slender, grass-like foliage and upright stems are fantastic for adding height and movement to your borders and containers.

Iris ensata prefer an acid to neutral soil, so if planting in containers use an ericaceous compost.  If planting in borders you should also add ericaceous compost to the surrounding soil if you live in an area with alkaline soil.  If you are not sure, areas with acidic soil are where Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias grow well.  Soil testing kits can also be obtained quite cheaply if you don’t know your soil type.

Wherever you put these wonderful plants they will need a moist site in a well watered container, in a damp border or on the edge of a pond.  It is not however recommended to submerge the roots in a pond as this can cause rotting.  They thrive in a sunny or semi shaded area. Unlike Bearded Iris they like shade at the roots so surrounding them with other perennials will help to achieve this.  They will reach a height of around 60cm (24in) and a spread or about 30cm (12in).

Varieties in the series available so far include:-

Iris ensata Dinner Plate ‘Blueberry Pie’ (pictured at the top of the article) with it’s sumptuous and dramatic purple flowers.

To view Iris ensata Dinner Plate ‘Blueberry Pie’ at Thompson & Morgan click here


Iris ensata Dinner Plate ‘Ice Cream’ with it’s wide, lilac-purple blooms with an irregular white margin.

To view Iris ensata Dinner Plate ‘Ice Cream’ at Thompson & Morgan click here


Iris ensata Dinner Plate ‘Tirimasu’ with each bloom boasting white petals, edged with a mauve picotee margin

To view Iris ensata Dinner Plate ‘Tirimasu’ at Thompson & Morgan click here

To view all three plants as a collection at Thompson & Morgan click here

Mark Snelling

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All images copyright Thompson & Morgan


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