Discovery: Iris spuria

Have you heard of the Spuria beardless iris, a cousin of the Siberian iris? I hadn’t. And I certainly hadn’t been prepared for the Wow-ow -ow! factor of seeing one of these five-foot-plus-tall giants in a garden.

It happened yesterday, when Sarah and I took an interesting detour. While looking at a new community garden on Kingston Road east of Markham Road in Scarborough, we discovered the historic Cornell/Campbell Farm next door. We’ve since learned that there are some great plans being considered for this 12-acre historic site, recently acquired by the City’s Parks department. However, I’ll let Sarah tell you about both those gardens in a couple of different posts.

My quest is simply to show you perhaps something new.

My A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants has this to say about Iris spuria: Most Spurias require a dry summer dormancy, alkaline soil, and high levels of fertility.

The Spuria Iris Society web page notes: Modern hybrids are respected for their ease of growth and enormous size. Their exquisite flowers are highly sought by both florists and arrangers. The Society has tons of cultural info on them here, and you can also link to their online gallery through the same link. Apparently, spurias are particularly attractive to bees.

They were just coming into bloom in the garden yesterday, putting them perhaps a little later than the Siberians. I’ve never seen an iris quite like it.

UPDATE: I had forgotten to mention, as Sarah notes in the comments, that Iris spuria is available from Ontario iris grower and hybridizer, Chapman Iris. He sells all his irises online, and would ship out spurias in September, the best time for planting. Have a look at his site, too, for his open house dates, when you can catch him in the garden for Q&As. Sarah & I have been meaning to go to one of those.


  1. In fact Iris Spuria is the ONLY iris of interest to pollinators. These are definitely going in my garden. The varieties of coulors are superb as well.

    Helen you didn't mention that this luxurious clump of iris Spuria were over 5 feet tall. I didn't have a measuring tape, but some of the stalks were actually taller than me!

    And the tall grassy foliage is like Siberian Iris on steroids. A beautiful accent in the landscape.

  2. Duh. I see now you DID say they were 5ft tall giants. That is all, talk amongst yourselves…..

  3. OK girls … break it up ! LOL
    I haven't heard of this iris !
    I wonder if I can get a hold of a clump way over here in Kingston ? Do you girls have any contacts over here ?? : )
    It looks amazing and I would love to have it !

  4. Thanks for the Spuria iris connection. I hadn't known about these, and I love their form (I like the clean elegant lines of unbearded irises, though I have a few of the bearded kind). That they attract pollinators and like dry summers means – they have to go on my 3,000-plant must-have list!

  5. Many thanks for this post. We saw Iris spuria during the TBG's annual Through the Garden Gate tour June 20th and it knocked my socks off! They're huge! And gorgeous! I did ask the Master Gardener on site for the name but the info evaporated from my brain once I left the property. I definitely need some of these beauties in my garden.

  6. Hi Helen,
    I wish that I would have had the time to read your article on Iris Spuria in June when you posted it. That way, I would have ordered some for my own garden in the fall. It's December now and I am just catching up with gardening blogs that I could not read at the height of my planting season.
    I guess Mr Chapman will have to wait another season for my order. Thanks for directing your readers to him.

You might also like