Iris virginica, commonly called Southern blue flag, is a native wetland species of iris. It blooms in late spring and flower color can vary considerably from pale blue to purple.
The flowers are cross-pollinated by bumblebees and long-horned bees; 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. Some insects feed on Blue Flag Iris and other Iris spp. destructively. Caterpillars of such moths as Virginia Ctenucha,Agreeable Tiger Moth, and Iris Borer Moth, also feed on these plants.
Mammalian herbivores rarely bother this plant because the foliage and rootstocks are somewhat toxic, causing irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.
For landscaping purposes, it can be used in water gardens or grown in borders as long as soils are kept uniformly moist. Southern Blue Flag Iris prefers full sun to part shade and will not bloom well if it has more shade than sun. It grows best in moist soils that are not too heavy but will tolerate some brief flooding early in the season and moderate dryness in late summer. Excellent in swales and swampy ground. Perfect along the edge of ponds.
Habitats include wet to moist black soil prairies, prairie swales, soggy meadows along rivers, open bottomland woodlands, swamps, fens, seeps, edges of ponds and streams, ditches, and low-lying ground along railroads and roadsides. Declining remnant populations can be found in some low woodland areas where fire has been surpressed. Spreads by rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions.
Plants that favor similar conditions can be found in our Wet Meadow Mix.
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Watch a video about our Wet Meadow Mix, which favors the same conditions as this species.