Identifying Color Patterns in Iris Blooms

Last Updated on June 21, 2019 by Kimberly Crawford

The Iris plant takes its name from the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow – Iris. Color patterns are of extreme importance when buying and growing this genus.

Iris plants come in a wide variety of color patterns. Each pattern has a distinctive name that lets the grower know what to expect from that plant. There are many color combinations between the standard and the fall, the standard being the upright head on a breaded iris, and the fall the petals. Blooms on the Iris plant, according to, The American Iris Society, can be almost any color, except true red. Although there are reddish hues and tints there is no exact red in the Iris genus.

Same Color Iris Patterns

The Self is an iris bloom that is all the same color. The standards, falls and even the beards, the short, upright tuft of color near the stalk, should be the exact same if the iris is to be known as a true self. The Neglecta is always a blue or violet, two color pattern, where the falls are darker than the standard.

The Viriegata, is a bi-color iris that has yellow standards and a darker fall. The fall can be any color but generally it’s of a reddish hue. 

Amoena patterns are unique in that one part of the bloom must be white. If the standards are white, the falls can be any color. If the falls are white then the standard will be another color to produce this specific pattern.

Iris Patterns of Two Colors

iris bicolor

The Bicolor is a combination of any two colors, but the falls have to be a different color and darker than the standards. The Bitone consists of blooms in which, both standards and falls, will be the same color in a different hue. For instance, a light purple standard could melt into deep, violet falls and be known as bitone. If the reverse is true, with the purple standard being predominate, and the falls a soft, rich violet, or even a lighter hue of the same color, the pattern is called a ‘reverse’ bitone.

Unique Iris Patterns

Blend is a combination of any two or more colors on the same plant. The colors can be a mixture but should ‘blend’, meaning two or more colors appear on the small part of the bloom. 

Luminata is a beautiful combination of any color or hue. Its magic is in the falls which are ‘painted or brushed’, with pale veins visible.

A clear spot should appear near the beards. The pattern known as Plicata is where a light, background color, on both the falls and standard, are dotted or stitched around the edges with a darker color. Both the luminata and plicata are strikingly beautiful iris no matter their hue.

Tips on Selecting Iris Plants

Not every iris grower will be familiar with the above terms, but they should be knowledgeable of the colors of their plants. When buying from a local grower ask for pictures to determine what color combinations are being purchased. Buying from a reputable catalog will probably insure getting what is required. Serious iris growers will want to know these color combinations for later propagation.

identifying color patterns in iris blooms