Sunday, May 07, 2006

I is for Iris

I love growing iris. Most of the iris I grow right now are bearded iris. Bearded iris come in a wide range of sizes. Dwarf varieties may only be eight inches tall, but the tall bearded varieties can have stems up to four feet tall. I started growing iris when we moved into our house about three years ago. The ones pictured here are growing and blooming in my yard right now. Other varieties of iris are different in a lot of ways

Bearded iris come in a wide variety of colors - probably everything but a true red. Most of the ones I have pictured here are some shade of purple. I love purple flowers in the garden. Iris bloom here starting in late April and continue for several weeks.

Bearded iris grow from rhizomes - kind of a potato looking thing. The rhizomes are what multiple resulting in the iris spreading. They grow quickly - this means they are a great plant to share with friends that garden. You do have to divide iris when they become crowded or they will quit blooming. They also like a lot of sun and are very drought tolerant. Planting should be close to the surface no more than 1 inch below the soil. Sometimes you can actually see the top of the rhizome above the surface. If planted too deep, iris may not flower and will be more prone to rot.

The picture above really shows the reproductive parts of an iris flower. The main part of the flower that stands up is called the standard and the petals that arch down are called falls. The little spike in the center is called the anther and is what carries the pollen for the plant. The little arch way that the anthers sit under is the stigmatic lip. When pollen is transferred to this - the iris can produce seed. The little petal like things above that are the style arms. Seeds, if produced, will appear in the ovary that is located where the flower attaches to the stem.

The actual beard of the iris, is the fuzzy like structure that rests over the falls. In the picture above the beard is purple. See, I can't get away form the purple! Even the yellow iris have purple on them. This flower decide to bloom during a rainy day and looks a little worse for the wear.

Some bearded iris are very fragrant too. None of mine are. Next year I think I'll add a few Louisiana iris. They actually come from swamp lands and like lots of moisture much like Japanese iris; plus they have varieties that are true red.

In some respects gardening is just like knitting. There are the purists that say nothing but the best will do - anything else is crap. But my garden is kind of like my yarn stash. There are specialty items you can't live without and sometimes there is something you just can't walk away from that is sitting in the bottom of the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. In fact, four of the five iris pictured here came from the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.

My favorite garden plants are those that can be shared. I love getting cuttings and seeds from friends and being able to pass along plants from my garden. Bearded iris are definitely a pass along plant.

6 comments:

Bezzie said...

I love your plant/flower posts because they're so chock full of information *about* the actual flowers/plants themselves.

And for being "bargain bin" flowers--they're still pretty!

Zonda said...

Those are just gorgeous! I love the last one especially! I plant them and they never flower...my thumbs are not green LOL!
Great pictures!

Terri said...

Gorgeous photos. I'm a fan of growing Iris too and a knitter. I think many knitters/quilters/crafters etc also make great gardeners. Must be the love of colour and the patience to watch things grow. :o)

cpurl17 said...

Iris is one of my favorite flowers too. Your photos are wonderful.

Carolyn said...

Those are beautiful photos! And great information about the flowers.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful.