Batik German Iris Plant Profile

Bicolored Show-Stopper for the Flower Border

Batik iris in bloom.

David Beaulieu

Growing Batik German iris is all about the mesmerizing color pattern on the flower petals. The royal purple flowers are streaked with irregular blotches of white (a patterning sometimes termed "broken color"). Its flowers, produced over a period of about one month, are also fragrant. Batik German iris is truly a show-stopper for the flower border.

Botanical Name Iris germanica 'Batik'
Common Name Batik iris, Batik German iris, Batik bearded iris
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial
Mature Size 24 inches in height
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Friable, evenly moist, and well-drained
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time May
Flower Color Royal purple, with white blotches
Hardiness Zones 4 to 9
Native Area The eastern Mediterranean

How to Grow Batik German Iris

Plant the rhizomes of Batik German iris no deeper than one inch down into the soil. This perennial is notorious for preferring a shallow planting depth.

After blooming, deadhead by removing flower stems right down to ground level.

Dividing in August every four years or so will prevent overcrowding and rejuvenate your clumps of Batik German iris.

To avoid bacterial and fungal diseases, be fastidious in cleaning up a bed in which you are growing Batik German irises. After a hard frost in autumn, clean up any debris around the plants. Some experts recommend that you cut the leaves down to ground level at this time.

This is a deer-resistant perennial. In spite of Bambi's disdain for it, it is a plant that attracts butterflies; you can also use it as a flower to attract hummingbirds.

Light

Batik German iris tolerates light shade, but it will flower best when grown in full sun.

Soil

Work humus into the soil to promote good drainage.

Water

Keep the soil of Batik German iris evenly moist. But the plant does not like soggy soil, so make sure that the ground drains well. It is a moderately drought-tolerant perennial once established.

Fertilizer

For fertilizer (which some gardeners apply twice a year), use a product high in phosphorus (the middle number in the NPK sequence).

Batik, Border, Bearded, German: What the Names Mean

You probably recognize the germanica in the botanical name as the source for the "German" in the common name. I. germanica also goes by the common name of "bearded iris," due to the presence on the flowers of small hairs reminiscent of the hairs in a beard just beginning to grow.

Like other genera brimming with hordes of different species, this genus has a lingo all its own, meant to help in classifying plants and facilitating descriptions of plant parts. For example, you will see Batik German iris listed as a "border" type. Among other qualifications, a border type will, by definition, attain a height of from 16 to 27.5 inches, according to the American Iris Society (AIS). Since Batik German irises have a height of 24 inches, they meet this qualification.

The cultivar name of 'Batik' refers to an ancient artistic technique, whereby select portions of a medium are made resistant by applying wax to them, after which the surface is dyed. The dye-resistant areas retain their original color, whereas the rest of the surface assumes the color of the dye.

Apparently, whoever named the plant thought of the batiking process when gazing upon the flower's purple-and-white coloration. The pattern could easily suggest an original color of white, made resistant with wax, over which a purple dye was applied (or vice versa).

Usually associated with fabric, the concept can readily be applied elsewhere, as well. The batiking process is popular in artwork done on hardshell gourds (Lagenaria spp.), for example.

Other Iris

Batik is one of the many hybrid bearded irises available, but there are various types of irises. They come in many colors and sizes (including flower sizes), and they can differ substantially in growing requirements. Examples include:

  • Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata): This is a much smaller species (both in height and in flower size). It also blooms earlier.
  • Blue flag (Iris versicolor): Being native to eastern North America, the blue flag is a good alternative for gardeners in that region who crave native gardens. It works well around water features.
  • Japanese iris (Iris ensata): Another choice well-suited for planting around water features. Both this iris and blue flag require more water than Batik German iris, and they tolerate wet soil.

Uses for Batik German Iris in the Landscape

Batik German iris, being of intermediate height for a perennial, is a good plant for the middle row of a layered perennial flower bed. Alternatively, use it as an edging plant. It is a good cut flower, too.

The plant exhibits a clumping growth habit, growing from a base of rhizomes. Its leaves are sword-shaped. Combined with its tall flower spikes, the leaves inject a vertical element in your flower borders that allows you to create contrasts in plant form.