June 27, 2012

Plant of the month:
Tall Bearded Iris

Do you ever regret missing out on the bloom time or the peak display time for a plant? Perhaps the time passes too quickly and you're too busy when it happens. Or some other factor causes you to miss the show.

Iris germanica

For me, this year it was the Irises. The ones in my garden didn't bloom, probably because they need to be divided, or because of late April frost/freezes after a warm March. The Irises in my garden are big, beautiful bearded Irises that my friend, Jan, passed along several years ago. They smell like grapes and they usually bloom in early June.

Based on their characteristics, I'm guessing the cultivar is 'Madame Chereau' or 'Stepping Out'heirloom German Bearded Irises that grow to about 40 inches in height.

Bearded Irises prefer well-drained soil, in partial or full sun, according to the American Iris Society (AIS). They need at least a few hours of sun each day. My friend, Elaine, taught me to plant them very shallowly, and the AIS says to keep the tops of the rhizomes exposed, with only light mulching.

Overcrowded Irises need to be dug up, divided, and replanted every few yearspreferably in late summer or early fall. I'm looking forward to that task, and the chance to encourage new blooms for next year.

So, I missed out on this favorite plant for this year. But not really, because I was able to enjoy flowering Irises of many varieties on display in New Orleans during our trip there in March. Most of the Irises I captured were beardless. I don't have IDs on these.









There are about 300 species of Irises and numerous hybrids and cultivars, according to the Pacific Bulb Society. Bearded, beardless, ruffled, flat, German, Dutch, Siberian, Japanese...and even Louisianas, native to the American Gulf Coast.

For more information about Irises of all varieties, visit the American Iris Society and The Society for Louisiana Irises websites.

38 comments:

  1. The white and yellow, and the one with a bee - look like South African wild iris Dietes.

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    1. That could be the case, Diana. Most of the Iris photos were taken either at the New Orleans Botanical Garden or the in New Orleans' garden district--both of which are worth visiting if you're ever in New Orleans.

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  2. I do enjoy irises! You show a beautiful selection of them. I just moved a group of irises that were in too much shade to a sunnier spot. Hopefully next year they will bloom more!

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    1. Me, too. I need to plant more! The same thing happened to me. The ones in the deep shade never bloomed. The ones with dappled sunlight exploded with blooms the first year I planted them.

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  3. I love irises, all kinds. And yes, there are times that I miss blooms in the garden, and it's sad to think that I may not see them until the next year. I guess that's why gardeners are always looking forward to next year - we all have dreams of seeing each and every bloom! Maybe one year we will!

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    1. Sometimes the spring passes way too quickly and it's too late. Gardeners dream a lot, don't we?!

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  4. You captured some really lovely iris photos. I just have dark blue iris in my gardens. Their flowers aren't as interesting as the flowers you photographed for us.

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    1. Thanks, Mary! The bearded Irises were a wonderful gift. Sometimes they bloom at the same time as the Peonies, and combined in a vase they create a beautiful luscious bouquet. I would bet your Irises would work well with other cut flowers, too?

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  5. The irises from New Orleans are lovely, but none of them can compare to yours, Beth--Madame is a beauty! I was disappointed in my irises this year, too, and wondered if it might be due to the late April freezes. They haven't been in my garden very long, so I don't think they need divided, though they may be getting crowded by all the daylilies. Thanks for the helpful information; I need to learn more about how to care for irises.

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    1. Most of what I learned about Irises came from friends, as mentioned in this post. And from new friends who visit my blog and are helping me to ID these Irises. I absolutely love this forum--I will never run out of things to learn about plants. :)

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  6. I love irises, have tried them in my garden, but they didn't flower the next year so I chucked them out, haven't tried again. I also find that some plants flower for such a short time that I hardly get to enjoy them, that's why I just have to photograph every plant in my garden, every year! So when the rain is bucketing down I can at least enjoy the flowers on my computer :-)

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    1. I know what you mean about photographing everything...sometimes I get a little carried away. ;-) Part of it is the thrill of capturing a plant with just the right amount of light at the right time of day or in the best position--so much fun!

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  7. Awesome pics! The colors so vivid and the blooms are so lovely. Thanks for sharing them.

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    1. Thank you! It was one of my favorite days, ever. The New Orleans Botanical Garden is a national treasure!

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  8. I'm so glad that you wrote about Iris today, not just because the shots that you took are stunning, but I needed the info. This is my first year in this garden, and there are light mauve bearded iris in it, but only a few blooms. I am wondering if mine need to be divided...maybe.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    1. Thanks, Jen! Based on knowledge shared by friends and my own experience with the Irises, dividing apparently is necessary at some point. As is sunlight. The ones I planted in the shade never bloomed. The ones in dappled sunlight performed much better. Good luck!

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  9. I need to lift and replant mine. After years of mulching they are now too deep and didn't bloom this year.

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    1. This will be my first year lifting, dividing, and replanting. Should be interesting. :) Good luck with yours, too!

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  10. Wish I had a place for these statement plants of many colours. Irises need capturing as their blooms are so fleeting. Divide and conquer then for next year Beth. Meanwhile you've shown just how exotic they can be - 2nd one down is like an orchid

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    1. I'm amazed at the variety of Orchids, Laura! They all start out with those grass-like stems, and then the blooms emerge from the recesses of the cluster--they're magical! I wish I had more space for them, too!

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  11. I adore irises and these are gorgeous Beth. I need to dig up and divide many of my bearded that did not bloom but many large clumps did...I think like you the weather hit those that were not near the house or the other warmer microclimates...these bloomed profusely and others did not show. I think it may have to wait another year unless I find time which isn't looking good.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. I wish I could fit more in my garden. Maybe I'll just have to make room! ;-) I'm planning to dig and divide in August. Good luck with yours, too!

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  12. I love iris season, but I missed it this year. They bloomed so early. It is nice to see them blooming in your garden. Such lovely images of them too!

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    1. Unfortunately, they didn't bloom in my garden this year. But luckily I have pictures so I can enjoy them virtually. And memories of the New Orleans Irises are still fresh. :)

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  13. Hello there, That's a gorgeous purple and white iris you have but I don't think it's Madame Chereau...looks too modern to me.

    Here's a web page for comparison.
    http://www.hips-roots.com/articles/cc/w2.html

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    1. Thanks for the link, Vanessa! I'm thinking they might be 'Stepping Out' but I really don't know for sure. It's fun to try to figure out--especially with help from fellow gardeners like you!

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  14. I have a unidentified iris myself. Thanks for stopping by my wildfire post.

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    1. Sure thing. I'm feeling so horrible for the folks in Colorado. That must have been a strange and frustrating experience.

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  15. Your irises are beautiful. I have Louisiana iris and Siberian iris that bloomed briefly in spring and now just have wonderful foliage. Any chance for rain up your way?

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    1. Thanks, TS. I think I need to add more Irises. I'll look forward to more posts about yours. No rain yet--it just keeps raining north and south of here. Very frustrating.

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  16. My renegade friend Deb rescued some iris from a field where an old house was being demolished. I've no idea what variety or color yet but am looking forward to some surprises next year! I believe the second of the beardless iris you show is butterfly iris. They are grown a lot down here. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Ah, thanks for the ID. I kept track of most of the plants during our New Orleans trip, but for some reason not the Irises--there were just so many of them and they were all amazing!

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  17. Beautiful pictures! I grow a few bearded irises, and I think they finish blooming so fast, it is not really surprising to miss the show :(. I like Dutch irises best because they bloom early.

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    1. Thank you, Masha! Dutch Irises would probably last longer here, too. Now I just have to find space for all these fun plants!

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  18. Stunningly beautiful post. Wish you had the name at that blue and white variety.

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    1. Thank you, Patrick! I wish I knew the name, too. There are just so many varieties of Irises--in each category! I guess that's frustrating when trying to ID them, but a blessing because of the plentiful options!

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  19. I feel that way some years about certain plants too! The iris bloomed & were over quickly here this year ~ I think because of the heat?? Your iris is pretty & the fragrance sounds amazing. I hope they bloom for you next year. Happy July 4th!

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  20. Thanks, Kathleen. Sorry for the delayed response on this comment. The Irises seem so long ago after all the severe heat we've had. Definitely somerhing to look forward to next year!

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