All about Irises You Must Know and How to Plant Them
Everyone wants to have a beautiful garden at home. To create this kind of garden, you need to have the right flower plants. One of the flower plants that will make your garden looks gorgeous is irises. They have colorful flowers. Moreover, they are easy to plant. Therefore, you will not find many difficulties in growing them, especially if you know how to plant iris bulbs.
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Get to Know More about Irises
When we are talking about the iris, it means that we are talking about a wide range of flowering plants. Iris is not a particular name of a single plant. It is a genus of flowering plants. There are about 300 species that are included in this genus. Some of them are rhizomatous and others are bulbous. If you want to plant the latter, you need to know the tips of how to plant iris bulbs.
The steps of how to plant iris bulbs and how to plant the rhizomatous ones are not similar. However, before you try to find out about them, it is recommended for you to have better understanding about those plants. These are several things you must know about irises.
1. Origin and History of Iris
Irises are commonly found living in temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. They grow in Europe, North America, and certain regions in Asia. It is said that the name of this flowering plant is originated from the name of Greek goddess, Iris. She is the goddess of rainbow.
Many people believe that this flower bears the name ‘Iris’ because iris flowers are colorful. Some of them are purple. Meanwhile, others have yellow, blue, white, pink, red, or orange flowers. Therefore, planting them will bring rainbow to your garden.
It is also believed that this Greek goddess moved from heaven to earth and back to heaven with the medium of rainbows. She went down to earth and went back to heaven in order to deliver messages to other gods.
People in Greece have a habit of planting these plants on the graves of their family. They believe that these flowers will help their family to go to the afterlife. However, in Japanese tradition, these flowers have the ability to ward evil energy off. Meanwhile, they are believed to be the spirit and messenger of summer by people in China.
In addition, this flower inspired the creation of fleur-de-lis. It was the coat of arms of several monarchs. But, it is mostly related to the French monarch.
2. General Characteristics of Irises
Since there are about 300 species of iris, it is no wonder that you will find out that different species do not have exactly the same characteristic. However, there are some general characteristics or irises. Knowing them will give you some ideas on how to plant iris bulbs and how to care for them.
Most iris species require full sun exposure for at least 6 hours per day. However, certain species will thrive in partially shaded areas. In addition, they are suitable to USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. The bulbous ones require dormancy in the winter. Therefore, they are more perfect for areas with colder temperature.
Moreover, most species of irises can grow well in loamy soil. However, some of these flowering plants will thrive in sandy soil. The soil in which you used for planting these flowering plants must be well-drained. In addition, it must be slightly acidic or neutral, with pH level between 6.8 and 7.0.
As stated before, these perennial plants grow from bulbs and rhizomes. The bulbous ones usually live in drier climate compared to the rhizomatous ones. In addition, they also have different shapes of leaves. Bulbous irises have basal leaves with cylindrical shape. Meanwhile, the rhizomatous ones have basal leaves like swords.
In addition, bulbous irises grow into smaller plants. They have smaller blooms. However, it doesn’t diminish their beauty. Moreover, they are perfect for you with small garden because they will not grow into a large mass.
Meanwhile, rhizomatous irises can grow tall, up to 3 feet high. Moreover, they have bigger flowers. This type of irises usually will grow into a large mass. Therefore, you need to prepare appropriate space for them to grow.
Irises have beautiful and colorful flowers. Some of them have more than one combination of colors. But, others are monochrome. The size of iris flowers depends on their species. Some of them are big and others are medium-size. These flowers consist of six petals. The inner ones are upright. Meanwhile, the outer ones hang down heavily. They are called the falls.
There are two types of iris flowers.
Bearded irises are more popular than the beardless ones. These flowers are large and very pretty. Some of them even have nice fragrance. They are called bearded irises because each of the falls has a soft bristle patch.
There are some popular bearded irises. One of them is Iris Germanica which has purple-blue color. Others bearded irises that will make your garden more attractive are Iris variegata with its yellow flowers and Iris pallida with its pale blue flowers.
Some bearded irises grow pretty tall. However, you can also get the dwarf varieties. They usually bloom in early spring. Meanwhile, the tall ones usually bloom in the summer. Some of them even bloom more than once per year.
Beardless irises are as pretty as the bearded ones. They don’t have soft bristle patch though. One of the most popular bearded irises is Iris siberica (Siberian iris). This plant has white flowers or violet-blue flowers which are smaller than bearded irises. Siberian Iris is originated from Eastern Europe and central Europe. It grows well in acidic soil.
Another beardless iris is I. kaempferi (Japanese iris). This plant love waters. Moreover, its flowers are large and colorful. Some of them are white and purple, pink, and blue with colorful stripes. This species grows well on moist and fertile soil. Moreover, it also needs full sun.
Irises are not simply garden flowering plants. Ages ago, the rhizomes of German iris and I. pallida were used for medicine and perfume. In the market, they were called orris root. However, the use of this particular root for medicine and perfume is not as popular as before. The use of dried rhizome as medicine must be done only by professionals since it contains a toxin.
Nowadays, it is mostly used as one of the ingredients of certain gin brands. In addition, iris flowers are used to make essential oil. This oil is sometimes used for aromatherapy. Moreover, it is also used as sedative.
Irises with large size flowers are usually only used as garden flowers. They are not used to create bouquet of flowers. It is because they are too big for bouquets. Irises with smaller-size flowers are more popular among florists. It is because they look great for bouquets.
5. Rhizomatous Species
There are many species and cultivars of rhizomatous irises. They usually have large flowers. Some of them are bearded and others are beardless. These are several rhizomatous irises that you can plant in your garden.
It has bearded flowers. In addition, the flowers are large and beautiful.
It has beardless flowers. They are large and very attractive. Japanese usually have kimono or water colors with these flowers on it.
This species produce bearded flowers. They are also pretty easy to plant.
This plant has beardless blooms. They are not as big as bearded iris flowers. However, they look beautiful and elegant on their thin stems.
At a glance, Louisiana iris has flowers similar to Japanese iris. It grows well in area with partial sun and moist soil.
6. Bulbous Species
The bulbous species require special methods of how to plant iris bulbs. They may have smaller flowers. But, they are very popular among florists and gardeners. In addition, the price of their bulbs is very affordable. Therefore, you do not need to spent lots of money to start your iris garden. These are some popular bulbous iris.
- English Iris (I. Latifolia)
English iris is actually originated from Spain. It has very attractive flowers. It is hardy and can be planted in colder areas. Moreover, it requires well drained and medium-fertile soil. In addition, it grows well in partially shaded areas. This plant blooms in late spring and early summer.
This species is as beautiful as the English iris. However, it differs in certain characteristics. If you want to plant it, you need to know these tips of how to plant iris bulbs. First, it requires fertile and well-drained soil. In addition, it is one of the hardiest irises. Moreover, the best time to plant it is in between late March and mid-May.
This particular iris species has pleasant fragrance. Its flowers are small and beautiful. They usually bloom in between February and March. Moreover, it needs well-drained and porous soil and partially shaded area. However, I. reticulata is less hardy than the other two.
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How to Plant Iris Bulbs
Now that you know more about these flowering plants, you can make some preparation on how to plant iris bulbs. We choose to discuss about planting this type of iris for several reasons. One of them is that bulbous irises are beautiful and compact. In addition, they are great for bouquets.
If you have one of these species, you can cut the blooms and put them in your vase. Bulbous iris flowers will stay beautiful in vases for about two weeks. Another great thing about this type of iris is that it is very easy to plant. Due to its smaller size, you can even plant it in a container.
These are the steps of how to plant iris bulbs.
1. Preparing The Soil
Before you plant your bulbous irises, you need to prepare the soil or medium. There are two ways of growing them, i.e. in containers or directly to the ground. Here are some of the things you need to do.
If you want to plant bulbous irises in containers, you need to have well-drained pots which at least are 20 cm deep. In addition, you need to have high quality potting mix. You need to mix compost with it so that the bulbs get enough nutrition. Then, fill the pot with this mix until it is ¾ full.
Preparing The Planting Site
Bulbous irises need well-drained soil. Therefore, you need to create a raised bed for them. Moreover, you also need to make sure that the soil is fertile and has the right acidity level. To make the soil fertile, you can mix the garden soil with bulb food and compost. In addition, you must make sure that the planting site you choose is sunny enough for the irises.
If you plant iris bulbs in pots, you can directly put them on its surface. After that, give a little push so that they get inside the soil. If you do it, it will help you to make sure that the bulbs stay erect.
In planting the bulbs, you need to remember that the pointy ends must face up and the blunt ends face down. Moreover, they must be planted 10 cm deep. Once you plant them, you must water the soil until it is moist enough. After that, you can place the pots in sunny areas.
Planting Directly to The Ground
If you plant them directly to the ground, you need to create holes on your raised beds. The holes must be 10 cm deep. In addition, you need to give 10 cm space between them. After that, plant the bulbs with pointy ends face up. Then, fill in the holes with enough soil and make sure that the bulbs stay upright.
Once they are planted, you must perform deep watering. Giving those bulbs enough water at this stage will help them sprout roots and leaves quicker. Moreover, you need to keep the soil moist enough until you see some leaves.
Bulbous irises need moderate amount of water. However, in summer and winter, you must keep the soil less moist or relatively dry. Aside from watering your plants, you also need to keep pests away. A certain pest usually comes when the irises start having buds. If you want to have beautiful flowers, you need to use insecticide to repel them.
Before the buds fully bloom, you can cut them. After that you can put them in a vase. They will look gorgeous on a vase and stay beautiful for a couple of weeks. In cutting them, you must leave 10 cm of stem on the plants. However, you can also let them on the plants. They usually will wither after several days though.
Your bulbous iris will die down after flowering. Then, they will be dormant in winter. You can leave them on the ground and they will spring and bloom again when the frost is over. However, when they are about 4 years old, you must transplant the bulbs. In doing it, you can follow the steps of how to plant iris bulbs above.
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