In Greek mythology Iris was the goddess of the rainbow and this is certainly appropriate given the range of colours available when growing these aristocratic blooms. Ancient Egyptians considered the Iris to be a symbol of power, an acknowledgement still bestowed upon it today by the French whose national flower it is.
How to grow Irises?
First to appear are the dainty early spring flowering reticulata and histrioides. The name Reticulata refers to the netted pattern that appears on these small bulbs, which should be planted in the autumn in well-drained soil in a sunny spot. They are also excellent planted up in terracotta pots. The small flowers appear from sword like spathes and can carpet an area with intensity.
'Harmony' is one of the most popular of these early Iris, rich royal blue flowers with splashes of white and yellow which really stand out. 'George' is a deep purple, again mottled with white and prominent yellow landing strips on lower petals - ideal for guiding bees to their promised nectar. These Iris work well in borders amongst Crocus or Chionodoxa.For a mix of colours, Suttons have plenty of choice - why not try our Iris reticulata Miniature Mix featuring blues and yellows?
When to plant Iris bulbs?
Iris rhizomes should be planted in August and September, in full sun in well-drained soil
All Iris flowers have three inner petals known as 'standards' and three outer petals called 'falls'. In folklore, it is said that the standards represent faith, hope and valour - qualities much needed in any good gardener!
The bearded Iris bulb (Iris germanica) are the large romantic blooms beloved of summer herbaceous borders and often seen at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in high end garden designs, particularly in rusty terracotta orange colours. They grow from fleshy stems called rhizomes (bulbous like underground storage organs) and love the sun. For a voluptuous velvet border eruption, 'Rosalie Figge' will demand attention. Large ruffled blooms in rich purple - an exquisite work of art.
These flowers inspired Vincent Van Gogh and William Morris to put paint to paper. If you're not quite at their artistic level, why not let nature be your canvas and add some Iris to your garden?
Buy Iris Bulbs UK from Suttons