Order these spring-planted bulbs NOW for delivery in APRIL and MAY.

PINNACLE, 1949        New
“Fresh, cool, flawless in its purity, and absolutely unique,” to quote its breeder Jean Stevens, ‘Pinnacle’ was a ground-breaking iris, the first to combine white standards with yellow falls. It soon became immensely popular, too, and experts say it would have won the Dykes Medal – if only New Zealand-bred iris had been eligible for it. 36-40”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart and care.
IR-51
1/$10
3/$27.50
5/$43
10/$80
Limit 10, please.
QUECHEE, 1947        Rarest & New
This chocolate-shaded, maroon-red iris “is a common sight at the Chelsea Flower Show,” says the popular BBC magazine Gardeners’ World. And there’s more to it than dramatic color – it’s also graced with a delicate orange scent. Bred by the great Harold Knowlton, it’s named for the Quechee Gorge, “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon.” 30-34”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart and care.
IR-52
1/$10
3/$27.50
5/$43
10/$80
Limit 10, please.
SENLAC, 1929        New
With “brilliant claret-red flowers on strongly branched stems” (Cooley catalog, 1936), this sumptuous iris was once celebrated as the reddest of all – and it’s still turning heads in gardens today. Bred by Englishman A.J. Bliss, it’s named for the site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, from the Old French sanguelac or “blood lake.” 34-38”, zones 3a-8a(10bWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart and care.
IR-53
1/$10.50
3/$28.50
5/$45
10/$84
Limit 10, please.
SWERTI, 1612        It’s Back!
This grape-scented beauty was first pictured 400 years ago in the lavish Florilegium of Emmanuel Sweert, a Dutch artist and nurseryman who was head gardener for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Although it’s often confused with ‘Madame Chereau’ (see them side-by-side here), its curled, pointed falls are distinct – and charming. As for its spelling, although Sweert’s name has two Es, and ‘Sweertii’ would be correct by modern rules, we’re sticking with the historic ‘Swerti’. 30-36”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart and care.
IR-34
1/$9
3/$24.50
5/$39
10/$72
25/$162
WABASH, 1936        Web-Only
Simple but stunning, ‘Wabash’ won the iris world’s top prize, the Dykes Medal, in 1940, and it’s still enormously popular today, often topping the annual polls of the Historic Iris Preservation Society. Its pure white standards glow above vibrant purple falls that are intensified by gold beards and a radiant edging of silver. 36”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart and care.
IR-03
1/$8
3/$22
5/$34.50
10/$64
25/$144

IRIS HISTORY — Native from Europe to Nepal, bearded iris are one of the world’s oldest cultivated flowers. They were carved on the walls of Egyptian temples, grown by the monk Walafrid Strabo in the ninth century, and included in Gerard’s great Herbal of 1597.

Colonial gardeners grew a handful, but the real glory days for bearded iris began in the mid-1800s when breeders in France developed scores of exciting new varieties such as ‘Madame Chereau’. British and American enthusiasts soon joined in, and by the 1920s iris ranked as one of the top three perennials in American gardens.

HIPS, HIPS, HOORAY! We’ve been members of the terrific Historic Iris Preservation Society since its founding in 1988, and if you love heirloom flowers we think you’ll find it well worth joining.

IRIS ARCHIVES — For customer tips and raves, the stories behind the flowers, links and books, history, news, and more, see our Iris Newsletter Archives.

IRIS AS CUT FLOWERS — For tips for longer lasting bouquets, see our Bulbs as Cut Flowers page.

IRIS PLANTING AND CARE — Unlike most sources, we ship our iris as bare-root plants in the spring. (See an example here.) Plant them right away. They’re freshly dug the day we ship them, they can take light frost, and to bloom their first summer they must get growing again ASAP. If necessary, store in the fridge for 2-3 days or “heel in” briefly in moist sand or soil.

Iris like lots of sun. Give them half a day, at least, or more for increased bloom and better health. Good drainage is essential, too, so plant in sandy to average soil. Avoid or improve heavy (clay) soil or plant on a slope or in raised beds.

Space 10-18 inches apart. Iris grow/expand outward from the leaf end of the rhizome (bulb), so keep this in mind when arranging and planting them.

Don’t plant too deep! Leave the top of the rhizome exposed. Dig a hole, mound soil in the center, set plant on top, and spread roots down the sides of the mound. Fill in and firm soil, making sure that the top of the rhizome remains exposed (or barely covered in extremely hot climates). Water well.

Though iris are drought-tolerant and will rot in soil that’s too wet, they’ll need regular moisture the first few months after planting as they reestablish themselves. So water them, but not too much. Let your green thumb be your guide.

After flowering, cut bloom-stalks to the ground. Weed carefully to avoid damaging shallow feeder-roots. For best bloom and health, trim or remove dead or disfigured leaves (but not healthy green ones!), especially in late fall and early spring, so air can circulate freely and sunshine can warm the rhizomes.

After a few years of vigorous growth, your iris may get so crowded that their bloom and health begin to suffer. To thin or divide them, wait 4-8 weeks after bloom and then either open up the clump by removing the oldest rhizomes from the center, or dig it all, replant the best new rhizomes, and give away or destroy (don’t compost) the others.

Iris have relatively few pests or diseases that trouble them. You can get helpful advice on the most common ones — iris borer (which is a problem east of the Rockies only), leaf spot, and root rot — at the excellent Iris Garden website sponsored by the iris societies of New England.

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