Guide to Iris Flowers
1.1 What is the meaning of the Iris flower and what do they symbolise?
The Iris flower has a mythology entrenched with the Greek goddess ‘Iris’, who traveled as a messenger between the pantheon of the gods and the human realm. This has transferred the meaning of hope, wisdom and valor onto the three petals of the modern day iris. However, this is only a broad symbol of the iris, each colour and variation will have a different meaning. These include:
- Hope & Wisdom & Valor: Related to the Greek lore mentioned above. Ideal to give to friends going through tough times or are unwell. This usually applies to blue and purple iris.
- Trusting Love: A gift to show your appreciation and trust for someone close to you. Red iris can be used as the colour red is a strong advocate for love.
- Colour Variations: Yellow irises convey passion, navy and dark blues symbolise royalty, while white iris, as most white flowers symbolise, mean purity.
1.2 What occasions are best to give Iris flowers as a gift?
Since there are so many different flower meanings for them, you can buy iris flowers online for just about any occasion. A few examples include:
- Congratulations: Acknowledge they’ve had the wisdom and to succeed with purple or yellow iris, and hope that the future will store even more achievements.
- Get Well Soon: Let your sick friend know you’re there for them and like a flower, they’re future will have its blooms and wilts.
- Corporate: If a coworker has ascended or been promoted within the workplace, let them know you acknowledge their performance with navy iris – it may be an ego tease implying they’re royalty, but they won’t be complaining!
1.3 How long do Iris from a florist live for?
Iris flowers typically live for 4 days before significant wilting sets in, yet there is a trick to keeping them fresh for longer.
Where as most flora prefer a healthy amount of sunlight and warmth, if not maximum, cut iris stems bought from a florist prefer cool environments. As per usual, ensure the water has some sort of plant food or sugar in it after the arrangement container has been cleaned and sterilized.
1.4 What different type of Iris flower species are there?
The Iris genus has over 260 species, yet for the sake of simplicity it’s easier to compare the types of Iris you’re more likely to see in gardens day to day. All types of iris flowers are capable of growing in white, red, blue, yellow, purple, pink and red. These include, but are not limited to:
- Bulb: If you have trouble distinguishing an iris flower from an orchid, it may very well be a bulbous iris. Interestingly enough they planted in summer where they lay dormant until they bloom in early spring. Also known as the English iris.
- Crested: The crested iris is a rhizome recognisable from its patches of colouring through the petals.
- Bearded: The bearded iris, also know as a German iris is named so for it’s loose petals which hang below the three traditional iris petals above. The petals below are resemble the beard, labelled as the falls. Depending on the cultivar, from miniature to tall, the bearded iris can grow from 20cm to 100cm tall.
- Beardless: Strangely enough the beardless iris do still feature the bearded ‘falls’, yet they are much smoother and less prominent. They are desirable as they thrive in moist environments and are more resistant to disease pests unlike their cousins.
1.5 What conditions does the Iris flower need to grow?
Climate: They are highly adaptable plants and can grow in just about any area and climate, but prefer plenty of shade and cool weather. These are only general guidelines for Irises, different species favor different environments.
Soil: Most iris thrive in slightly acidic soil ranging from 6.0-7.0 on the pH scale.
Planting: Find a plane of soil with good drainage and ~7 hours of sunlight a day – meaning that partial shade is preferred. The bulbs should be planted 15-20cm underground, too low will make them unlikely to sprout through the surface. Bulbs and rhizomes generally do not need a lot of space, and can grow almost side by side in clumps. If you are grower them in a close vicinity, you will have to manage the soil carefully as the flowers may compete for nutrients.
Fertilizer: A fertilizer with slower release such as nitrophosphate fertilizer when planting is recommended, or if the soil is too alkaline, add bone meal which acts as a nutrient and lowers pH to the desired range.
Insects & Disease: Iris struggle with insects such as borers, slugs and aphids #038; diseases such as leaf spots and root rots just as much as any other flower. With pesticide, proper drainage and close maintenance, you can prevent any severe damage to your plants. See Iris pests and problems for a more comprehensive overview.
Height at Bloom: Dwarf and miniature cultivar variants typically grow to only 20-40cm tall, where as border and tall bearded iris grows typically just over a metre high.
Watering: Iris appreciate constant watering throughout the hotter periods, but like any flower, saturation can lead to rot and disease.
See the following resources for more in-depth information on planting and growing Iris:
Easy to Grow Iris Bulb Planting – A good text resource for Iris bulbs.
Life123′s Guide to Iris Flowers – Helpful information and instructional Iris videos at the bottom.