The Q&A Archives: White Iris Turned Purple

Question: Last fall I translanted a white iris from my back yard to the front yard. Ithink it's a Japanese iris but I'm not completely sure. But that's what a relative told me who knows alot about plants. The iris came back this spring but to my surprise it was purple! Why would it come back purple? There are other types of purple iris out in front so could they have cross pollinated? I even asked my relative who knows alot about plants and he had no idea. He even asked if I was sure it was white and I said yes come look at the ones I left in the back. They are white! If you could explain this to me I would really appreciate it. Thanks alot.

sincerely, sandy maher

Answer: Well, what you're seeing is probably quite perplexing, but the truth of the matter is, Iris do not change color - it's simply a genetic impossibility. If your Iris are blooming in colors different than you'd expect, what is more likely to have happened is that your Iris are overcrowded. More vigorous varieties will tend to crowd out the less vigorous varieties. Give your Iris lots of space, and divide them every three or four years. When you divide them, be sure to dig up the entire clump, not leaving behind any new shoots that might get mixed in with your new varieties. Another possible explanation is that a chemical drift from a chemical spray (such as the weed killer Roundup) affected your Iris, possibly warping and damaging the flower and its color.

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