Iris reticulata Carolina carries flowers of classic iris blue that burst up through a veil of fresh February snow (that is when we get snow). This is a winter beauty whose size belies her impact. Carolina Irises are stunning at just the time when gardens can look a bit grey but combine her with aconites (best planted in February/March) and crocuses and things change. Her petals start sky blue at the centre, the 'falls' ending up a deep, velvety near-midnight shade, a vivid splash of yellow on white running down the centre. The end result is a little like Van Gogh's Starry Night in flower form - one of our truly beautiful rockery bulbs for sale.
Choose a really sunny spot for Carolina irises, in an alpine bed, a rockery or at the front of a flower border – remember dwarf irises hail from the bright, stony mountainsides of Russia, Turkey and the Middle East. She'll thrive in pots, too, placed somewhere you can admire her as she struts her stuff – near a kitchen window, or on the doorstep to welcome you home. In pots or borders, Iris Carolina looks great alongside grasses such as Festuca glauca or combined with other early-spring bulbs such as snowdrops or winter aconites. Or you can weave drifts of Carolina irises through deeper blue Iris reticulata Harmony. Like all dwarf irises, it's best to give Carolina a little space when planting, so you can fully appreciate the shape and form of those remarkable petals; plant good, bold drifts by all means –but don't pack the bulbs in too tightly.
If you like, you can 'force' Iris reticulata Carolina for indoor flowers. Plant in October or November in pots of well-drained compost mixed with some horticultural grit, then keep them in a cool, dark place for around 8 weeks, before bringing them out, when the shoots are 5cm tall, to a spot that gets about 4 hours' sunlight a day. Then just aim to keep them cool, so that the flowers last as long as possible.