Iris ensata ‘Variegata’

variegated Japanese water iris

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

Variegated Japanese iris is a lovely and elegant moderately slow growing perennial with beautiful flowers and striking foliage. The dark purple flowers are held on white variegated stems well above the leaves in early summer. The long narrow foliage shows pure white and mint-green variegation from the time it emerges from the ground in early spring until it dies down in autumn. Each leaf is 1/3 to ½ striped white with the remaining leaf streaked mint and green. The variegation is bright, but not gaudy. The restrained growth makes it

Quick Facts

Plant Type: clumping perennial

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 1 ft. 0 in. (0.30 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Flower Color: purple

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light shade

Water Requirements: frequent to regular watering

Seasonal Interest: the foliage and flowers are at their peak in early summer

Wildlife Associations: bees, butterflies

Resistant to: rabbits, deer

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: bronze, burgundy

Great Color Partners: blue, lavender, pink, purple

Culture Notes
This iris grows best in full sun and will tolerate a wide range of soils including clay and sand, but does not like to dry out for long periods of time. It will tolerate moist to wet soils. The foliage can be cut to the ground in fall once it begins to yellow. It is a slower grower than most iris and will only need to be divided every 4 to 5 years. This will keep the vigor and flowering at its best.
Geek Notes
This is often confused with the less common Iris laviegata ‘Variegata’ which is a more robust grower with wider foliage that is white and green instead of white and mint-green. Iris laviegata ‘Variegata’ also has violet-blue flowers instead of dark purple blooms.