Iris Flower

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The Iris genus contains over 250 species and florists have made them a popular cut flower and garden flower for many years. Getting their name from the Greek word meaning “rainbow”, Irises come in an extensive range of colors.

The iris genus is split up into 2 major categories: bearded irises and beardless irises. Bearded irises can be recognized by their lower-most petal that resembles the shape of a beard. Usually shaped with 6 petals, the top 3 that stand erect are called standards, and the bottom 3 which hang downwards are called falls. This category of irises is considered the most easy to grow and are thought to be great for beginning gardeners. They usually bloom in spring and sometimes summer and are native to central and southern Europe. The bearded iris can be split up into several sub-categories, including miniature dwarfs, miniature talls, borders and talls.

The beardless iris category differs from the bearded in several ways: their 3 fall petals are smoother, they bloom in mid-summer and they are mostly native to Asia. They are also not divided into sub-categories, as they all grow between 1 and 5 feet tall. The most common type of beardless iris is the Siberian iris.

Although this genus is divided into sub-categories, they are all grown in pretty much the same manner. They can be propagated either from seeds or by division. The roots of irises are known as rhizomes and resemble long potatoes with roots attached. This root should be spread out when planted, and if planting more than one iris, space them at least a foot apart since they are so large. Make sure irises are exposed to full sun and since they are perennial plants, choose a spot where they will live for years. Also provide the iris with well-draining soil. One of the most common causes of death of the iris is root rot.

Some interesting facts about the iris flower:

• The Tennessee state flower is the purple iris.

• The famous fleur-de-lis was modeled after this flower.

• The red fleur-de-lis is the coat of arms symbol for France.

• Vincent van Gogh featured irises in some of his most famous work.

• Most iris flowers are purple.

• The iris is the official birthday flowers for the month of February and the official flower used to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary.

Also visit our Iris Life Cycle page.