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Facts about the iris flower

Updated April 17, 2017

The iris flower is a herbaceous perennial and known for its beauty. They come in colours including white, yellow, brown, red, orange, blue, purple and black. There are over 200 types that produce in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. They are grown all over the world and adapt well in most settings, including extremely cold areas, deserts and swamps.

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The iris flower was named after the ancient Greek goddess Iris who was considered the God's messenger. Iris means "rainbow" in their language and was considered to be the bond between Earth and heaven. It was, therefore, viewed as a flower that was symbolic of the concept of communication. It has always been assumed that the flower on the Sphinx was an iris. There were drawings of irises discovered in Egyptian palaces because they were appreciated by the kings. They were used medicinally and to make perfume.


Bulbous and rhizome irises are the two categories of this flower. A boundless supply of varieties, hybrids, species and cultivars are included in these two types. Bulbous irises are divided into groups called crested, beardless and bearded. They are smaller than the bulbous and produce blossoms that require dormancy after flowering. Rhizome irises are horizontal in growth with stems that are wider. Their leaves have the appearance of a flattened sword, as they drape over each other.


July through September are the most ideal months for planting irises to generate a productive root system. They require at least six hours of sunlight, along with well-drained soil. A good soil conditioner can be added. It is important to make certain that the roots extend down toward the soil and are not planted too deeply. They should be planted 1 to 2 feet apart.


Irises need to be fertilised lightly in the first part of the spring with another dosing 30 days after they bloom. The necessary fertilisers vary with the soil type, but effective fertilisers for irises include superphosphate or bone meal. They need to be watered according to your specific environment and soil; however, longer periods of watering with lengthy periods in between are more effective than repeated light watering.

Weeds and Diseases

It is important to keep the irises from getting too crowded and overlapping. They need separating and thinning after 3 to 4 years of growth. The build up can be taken out of the centre. This aids in more productive blooming and controlling disease. It is also crucial to pull weeds in iris garden beds. The stems need to be cut back after they bloom and the leaves that are diseased and brown need to be pulled.

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About the Author

Hunter Darden

Hunter Darden is an author of four children's books, a novel, and a black-and-white photography book. She is also a humor/inspiration newspaper columnist having written for The Charlotte Observer. Darden has a degree in psychology from Meredith College. She was the 2005 recipient of the Meredith College Career Achievement Award and the NC General Federation of Women's Clubs Excellence in Creative Writing Award.

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