Iris Flowers – A Gardener’s Guide to the Common Iris

Iris Flowers – General Information

Iris flowers belong to a large species containing between two and three hundred distinct varieties. The name “Iris” stems from the Greek word for rainbow, which was assigned to the plant in recognition of the considerable number of color varieties common amongst the species.

Iris flowers are native to much of the northern temperate zone, and can be found growing in environments as diversely different as cold and grassy regions, riverbanks, and the deserts of North Africa. Iris flowers can also be found in parts of Asia, making it wide-spread and well known around the world.

An interesting fact about iris flowers involves the shape of the blossoms. They have evolved to be accommodating landing spaces for the flying insects, such as bees and butterflies that feed on the flower and in turn spread its pollen to other plants. This is critical for the iris plant so that it can successfully propagate.

Growing Iris Flowers

When planning a garden featuring iris flowers, the variety that you are most likely to choose is known as the “bearded” iris. It is this showy specimen that most popularly graces people’s gardens with its vibrant and beautiful colors. There are several sizes of iris flowers to choose from, and you should consider a few things when making your selection.

The tallest plants should be grown only in shielded areas, either by a fence or in a corner, or next to other tall plants that can support it. Tall iris flowers are vulnerable to wind and rain damage, meaning they can be easily destroyed in a storm. It is better to settle with the smaller varieties for your garden if you are uncertain of whether or not wind damage can be adequately prevented.

Iris flowers are sun plants, meaning that they require full access to the sun to grow properly. They can tolerate very light shade, but it is best to place them in unobstructed areas so that they may reach their full potential.

Soil quality is also important. Make sure that the earth is well-drained. If too much moisture collects in the area, the rhizome of the plant will rot out over the winter, destroying the roots and killing the plant. This can be avoided by eliminating excessive watering and by sloping the soil and including small channels for excess water to run down.

Iris Flowers – Dividing the Plant

As the iris grows, the rhizome (the underground stem-like root structure) will divide into separate structures that can be harvested and relocated. The iris is a sturdy plant, however, and you’ll need a shovel and a bit of elbow grease to get the roots separated. This won’t cause harm to the parent plant, and is the best way to help it reproduce in your garden.

You can also give a portion of your plant to a friend if it is growing well. This is also a good way to deal with the plant if it stops growing or flowering. Divide it, and it should resume as before.

Iris Flowers – Common Problems

As with any endeavor, growing iris flowers can be an activity fraught with peril. Well, perhaps not peril, but there are a few negative things you may need to deal with: namely the dreaded iris borer and thrips.

· Iris Borer – The iris borer is the larvae of a moth which hatches from eggs hidden in plant debris scattered about the soil. When it hatches, it makes its way to the leaves, nibbles its way inside, and then down to the rhizome underground. You can spot its telltale entry-point by noticing pinprick holes with brown streaks leading away from then.

By removing all debris following the year’s first frost, you can lower the chance of borer infestation. If they do infest and manage to make their way to the rhizome, the only way to eliminate them is to divide the plant and physically kill individual specimens.

· Thrips – Thrips are small flies that lay eggs on the plant. The hatched larvae will eat away at the iris flowers, causing them to shrivel and wilt. You can remove them with an insecticidal soap.

Iris Flowers – Additional Information

As you can see, aside from the common garden pests, growing iris flowers is both fun and rewarding. You’ll love being able to sit in your yard with a book and cool drink enjoying the appearance and scent of fresh flowers.

To acquire these blossoms for use in a gift bouquet or arrangement, visit your local florist or use their online shop to place orders, arrange for delivery and learn more about the plant in general. Your local garden center is another great source of gardening tips in addition to those we’ve provided. The professional staff will have a wealth of handy advice about how to keep a garden growing strong and healthy.

Copyright (c) 2008 Brant Florist

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