The Differences Between Iris Reticulata & Ruthenica

The Iris genus includes more than 200 species and cultivars, all which is classified to one of three groups: bearded, beardless and aril irises. Netted iris or reticulated iris (Iris reticulata) and Iris ruthenica, a type of Siberian iris, are just two examples of beardless irises, which means they deficiency the “beast” found on the falls, or lower petals, of the flowers. Although these plants share other similarities, they also have different attributes and growing requirements.

Psychological Attributes

Netted iris is a bulbous species, so rather than growing from a rhizome, like Iris ruthenica, it grows from an onionlike root foundation made of multiple layers of epidermis. The bulb is also covered with a fibrous web. The species name for netted iris is taken from the Latin phrase “reticulum,” which means “little web.” Netted iris produces fragrant, blue to purple flowers which feature a gold stripe running down the center of the falls. In contrast, Iris ruthenica creates violet-blue to lavender blooms that show white and purple stripes on the falls. The flowers grow from a creeping rhizome. Both are low-growing plants, with netted iris with a height and spread of merely a few inches and Iris ruthenica occasionally reaching up to 6 inches.


Netted iris is native to Russia, Iran, Turkey and Iraq, and is grown as an ornamental in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Iris ruthenica is native to southern Siberia, Central Asia and northern China and, as with other Siberian irises, grows in USDA zones 3 through 9.

Growth Habits

Netted iris is an early bloomer but also has a fairly short bloom time that is restricted to early spring. Netted iris prefers full sunlight to partial shade and well-drained dirt, but a demands a degree of dryness during the summer to set blooms for the subsequent season. Iris ruthenica thrives in moist, well-drained dirt and is particularly suited to bog gardens and perennial borders that have partial shade to full sun

Garden Uses

Netted iris and Iris ruthenica are both acceptable for rock gardens, paths and borders. Because netted iris is a smaller and closer to the ground, it’s ideal to plant it in groups so it stands out. Both irises naturalize from the garden by manual or self-division, although newly self-formed bulbs of netted iris may take several decades to mature, so you might not find any blooms for a couple seasons.

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