Iris reticulata 'Katharine Hodgkin' and Iris histrioides 'Katharine Hodgkin'.



Common name/s ?

Iris 'Katherine Hodgkin', reticulate iris 'Katharine Hodgkin' and orchid iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'.

Skill rating




Type of plant ?

Bulbous, deciduous herbaceous perennial

Hardiness zone ?

RHS zone


EGF zone


USDA zone


Eventual size

To 12cm height and 10cm spread

Growth rate ?

Fast, reaches full size within 2 years

Shape it grows into


Season/s of interest

Flowers January to February

Where to grow it

Happiest in full sun.
Prefers well drained to moist soil.

Will grow in exposed or sheltered conditions with any aspect. The soil should be well drained (moist soil is fine so long as the drainage is good), with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. If the soil is wet then the bulbs will need to be lifted or replaced each year. Happy on any soil type.

Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'


This is a compact dwarf iris which grows in clumps up to just 12cm high. It has large, pale blue flowers with deeper blue veins radiating from a yellow centre. The slim, mid green leaves lengthen after flowering.

What to use it for

This petite gem adds winter colour to suit formal or informal gardens. Can be grown in beds/borders or containers. It’s also a great winter addition for alpine/rock and coastal gardens. Plant them in broad swathes for best effect.

How to look after it

Plant the bulbs 5 to 10cm deep in autumn.

If you have wet soil then this won’t suit these iris bulbs at all – they may flower in the first year or may rot before they can even do this. As the bulbs are generally quite cheap to purchase then you can simply plant new ones each year. Alternatively, pot them up into water plant baskets in autumn and then set the baskets into the soil when the flowers are about to appear. Lift the baskets in spring and store dry until the following autumn.

More information on planting bulbs.

How to prune it

No pruning needed.

How to propagate it

The easiest way to propagate this iris is to divide it by removing the bulblets which form around each bulb. Pot up the bulblets to grow them on. Be careful to check for disease and destroy any bulblets which appear to be infected or damaged.

Can be grown from collected seed but, as this is a cultivar, they will not come true. Sow the seeds as soon as they are ripe. They should germinate in late winter.

Common problems

Can be susceptible to damage from slugs and snails. Bulbs can suffer from ink disease, tulip grey bulb rot and white root rot.

Other useful information

Eating any part of this plant can cause severe stomach upset.

This iris hybrid was bred in the 1960 by plantsman and writer EB Anderson, by crossing Iris winogradowii and Iris histrioides. It was named for the wife of Eliot Hodgkin, a fellow plant enthusiast. It has achieved the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

The genus name Iris derives from the Greek for a rainbow, due to the many different colours found in irises.