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

MONSIGNOR, 1907        It’s Back!
Introduced by Vilmorin-Andrieux et Cie, the famous French seed company, this sumptuous iris features violet standards over deep, velvety, claret purple falls with vivid white reticulations and an orange beard. But popularity and survival depend on more than good looks, and ‘Monsignor’ – like many cherished pass-along plants – grows with great vigor and blooms abundantly. Fragrant, 28-32”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from our Ann Arbor micro-farms. Chart and care.
IR-31
1/$9.50
3/$28.50
5/$47.50
10/$76
MRS. GEORGE DARWIN, 1895        It’s Back!
The perfect size for bouquets, and luminous in the garden, this elegant small iris is named for Maud du Puy, the Philadelphia-born wife of one of Darwin’s sons. Although often confused with its sister ‘Mrs. Horace Darwin’ (which we offered last year), it’s laced with gold and purple (not just purple) and blooms later (extending the sisterly season). 24”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart, care, and learn more.
IR-25
1/$8
3/$22
5/$34.50
10/$64
Limit 10, please.
PALLIDA DALMATICA, 1597        
This is the iris of my childhood, and maybe yours – tall, pale lavender, tough as nails, with a Concord grape fragrance that, as Elizabeth Lawrence wrote, “fills the borders and drifts into the house.” In his monumental Herbal of 1597, Gerard called it “the great Floure de-luce of Dalmatia” and praised its tall stalks, “faire large floures,” and “exceedingly sweet” scent. Even its leaves are beautiful! Stately but down-home, it’s a quintessential iris – and somehow makes everything around it look better. (See it farmed in Italy for making perfumes and gin.) 36-38”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart, care, and learn more.
IR-09
1/$10.50
3/$28.50
5/$45
10/$84
Limit 10, please.
PLUMERI, 1888        It’s Back!
This fragrant little iris is a fascinating mix of jewel-like colors that photos can only hint at. “Coppery rose” over “velvety claret” is how the legendary Bertrand Farr described it in 1920, while other have called it “rosy mauve with metallic sheen” over “red-violet, edged gold-brown.” Early and free flowering, it’s an iris we look forward to every year. (Please note: Recent research by Anner Whitehead has convinced us that ‘Plumeri’ dates to 1888, not 1830.) 28-32”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart and care.
IR-26
1/$8
3/$22
5/$34.50
10/$64
Limit 10, please.
QUEEN OF MAY, 1859        It’s Back!
One of the first “pink” irises, this Victorian favorite isn’t really pink but a soft, luminous, rosy lavender that’s distinctly different from the many lavender-blues of iris season. It’s fragrant, free-flowering, and still – as Ella McKinney summed it up in her 1927 Iris in the Little Garden – “old, early, and good.” 28-32”, zones 3a-8a(10aWC), from Ann Arbor. Chart and care.
IR-17
1/$7.50
3/$20.50
5/$32.50
10/$60
Limit 10, please.

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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