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Turkish Iris

Iris orientalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Iridaceae (Iris)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Ditches, gardens, marshes, meadows, rocky places.

White, 6 petals
White (or near white) flowers appearing in clusters of up to 5. There is a large yellow blotch on the falls of the petals. Flowers each measure about 10cm (4 inches) across. Insect pollinated.
The fruit is a seed capsule, between 4 and 6cm in length. The large seeds are triangular in cross-section.
A semi-evergreen perennial Iris with long, linear, sword-like basal leaves.
Other Names:
Oriental Iris, Yellow Banded Iris.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Iris orientalis, also known as the Oriental Iris or the Turkish Iris, is a species of flowering plant in the family Iridaceae. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia, and is commonly grown as a garden ornamental. The plant has tall, upright stems with large, showy flowers that come in a range of colors including blue, purple, and white. The flowers have six petals, three of which are called "standards" and three are called "falls". The flowers bloom in late spring and early summer.

Iris orientalis prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. The plant is easy to grow and it can be used in borders, rock gardens, and as cut flowers. Some cultivars of this species have been developed and are known for their large and colorful flowers. Some of the cultivars are also fragrant and have large flowers, which makes them a popular choice for cut flower arrangements. Iris orientalis is also used in traditional medicinal practices in some parts of the world, to treat various ailments such as skin conditions, respiratory issues, and digestive issues.


The Turkish iris, also known as Iris orientalis, is a beautiful and vibrant flowering plant native to Turkey and the surrounding regions. It belongs to the Iris genus and is a member of the Iridaceae family. This stunning plant is popular among gardeners for its striking appearance and easy-to-grow nature.


The Turkish iris is a perennial plant that typically grows up to 24 inches in height. It has long, narrow leaves that grow in a fan-like pattern and can reach up to 2 feet in length. The leaves are usually green or gray-green in color and have a distinctive rib down the center.

The flowers of the Turkish iris are the main attraction. They are large and showy, with petals that come in a range of colors, including deep purple, blue, white, yellow, and orange. The blooms have a distinctive shape, with three outer petals called "falls" and three inner petals called "standards." The falls are usually larger and more showy than the standards, and often have intricate markings or veins that add to their appeal.

Growing Conditions

The Turkish iris is a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of growing conditions. It prefers full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil that is not too wet. It can also tolerate drought and is a good choice for gardens with low rainfall. The plant is generally frost tolerant and can survive temperatures down to -15°F.


Turkish iris can be propagated by dividing the rhizomes in the fall or early spring. Rhizomes are the underground stems that produce new shoots and roots. To divide the rhizomes, carefully dig up the plant and separate the sections with a sharp knife. Replant the divided sections in well-draining soil and water thoroughly.


The Turkish iris is a popular ornamental plant that is often grown in gardens or used as a cut flower. The flowers have a pleasant scent and are used in perfumes and cosmetics. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, gastrointestinal disorders, and skin conditions.


There are several varieties of Turkish iris, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most popular include:

  1. Iris orientalis 'Honorine': This variety has large, deep purple blooms with yellow and white markings on the falls. It blooms in late spring and grows up to 30 inches in height.

  2. Iris orientalis 'Katharine Hodgkin': This variety has small, delicate blooms in shades of blue, yellow, and white. It blooms in early spring and grows up to 10 inches in height.

  3. Iris orientalis 'Yellow': As the name suggests, this variety has bright yellow blooms with brownish-red markings on the falls. It blooms in mid-spring and grows up to 24 inches in height.

  4. Iris orientalis 'Eye Catcher': This variety has large, bright orange blooms with dark brown markings on the falls. It blooms in mid-spring and grows up to 28 inches in height.


To cultivate Turkish iris, it is important to choose a well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The plant prefers full sun or partial shade and should be watered regularly during the growing season. Fertilizer can be applied in the spring to encourage healthy growth and blooming.

In areas with harsh winters, it is important to protect the plant from freezing temperatures by covering it with mulch or a protective layer of straw. In areas with mild winters, the plant can be left in the ground and will often re-bloom the following year.


In addition to its aesthetic beauty, the Turkish iris also has symbolic meaning in many cultures. In Greek mythology, the iris was a messenger of the gods and was associated with the rainbow. In Christianity, the iris was often depicted in religious art as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.

In Turkish culture, the iris is associated with strength and courage. It is often given as a gift to someone who is facing a difficult challenge or to express admiration for someone's bravery.


Despite its popularity as a garden plant, the Turkish iris is also under threat in its native habitat due to habitat loss and over-harvesting for medicinal and ornamental purposes. In recent years, efforts have been made to conserve the species through the establishment of protected areas and the development of sustainable harvesting practices.

In Conclusion

The Turkish iris is a beautiful and versatile plant that is easy to grow and adds a touch of color and interest to any garden. With its stunning blooms, rich cultural symbolism, and important conservation status, the Turkish iris is truly a treasure worth appreciating and protecting. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a newcomer to the world of gardening, the Turkish iris is sure to delight and inspire.