Iris, the Rainbow Bloom
February is here and our flower of the month is the bright and beautiful Iris. The gorgeous, rich coloring on the Irises petals reminds us of the joys to come when spring arrives. The genus Iris has hundreds of species and they come in a rainbow of colors, and as the Greek word for rainbow is Iris, then it is the perfect name for this colorful blossom.
The Iris is a perennial and an herb and in times past the root of the Iris was used for medicinal purposes and for making perfume. The image of the iris has always been popular; the fleur-de-lis is a stylized iris and has been used in heraldry and as a symbol on flags and shields for centuries. Irises are a well loved bloom in North America and it is easy to see why, as they make such a colorful impact and cheer up any corner of the garden, especially after a long winter. They only have a short blooming period of about one to three weeks in spring or early summer; but with their gorgeous colors and distinctive petal shape they do make a powerful impact in the garden. One of the most widely known of the iris species is the bearded iris with its fuzzy stripe and silky petals; growing this sweet bloom in your backyard is a must and here are some tips to make it easy:
1. When choosing your planting location bear in mind that irises like full sun, however they will grow in partial shade.
2. Mix the soil with good compost and be sure that there is adequate drainage as iris roots don’t like to get soggy; in fact they do well in hot weather with minimum water.
3. Place the iris rhizome (rootstalk) in a shallow hole or they will not come up in the spring if they are planted too deeply, with the roots facing down. Pile up a Little earth in the centre of the hole and place the roots over it and then cover with soil. Press down to secure the iris in place and water.
4. Mulch lightly to protect them from the cold winter, don’t mulch in the spring or summer as irises need heat.
5. When your irises have bloomed cut them to the ground with the leaves remaining and do not forget to remove any dead leaves as this will help the plant to regenerate.
6. Irises propagate incredibly well, so divide and conquer every three years, or it will be standing room only with no room for new growth.
The iris can fill your garden with a rainbow of colors and they certainly say goodbye winter and hello spring when they are in full bloom in the garden.