Iris flower: what are its characteristics and how it is grown

There are many types of iris, a plant known for its resistance as well as for its flowers in shades of blue and purple. But how is it grown? Where is it best to place it at home? Does it need to be outdoors? What maintenance does it need? Let's get to know it together, answering these and other questions. But first we suggest you watch the video below to enter the magical world of the language of flowers.

Iris flower: the 6 main varieties

We can distinguish as many as 300 species of iris, some very common, others less and more rare. Let's see which are the main ones that also lend themselves to being kept at home.

  • Iris reticulata

It is one of the easiest species to grow, native to Turkey and appreciated above all for its delicate blue flowers. For a surprising effect it can be planted together with other bulbous species to give life to flowers with delicate shades of azure, light blue, blue and turquoise.

  • Marsica iris

Also known as Marsica iris it is a perennial plant that can grow up to
cm in height. It usually blooms from May to June when the temperature is between 18 and 13 degrees. It is now a very rare and endangered species.

  • Iris hollandica

Characterized by flowers with a diameter of about 13 cm and very tall stems, it is well suited for growing indoors and needs to be placed in full sun. Iris hollandica is always particularly appreciated for its large size which makes it a perfect ornamental plant suitable even for beginners, thanks to its ease of cultivation.

  • Iris japonica

Originally from the East, it does not have the useful characteristics to withstand the coldest winters: even a frost is enough to bring the plant to death. For this reason it can be grown in Italy, but it is better to choose a sunny place with mild temperatures even in the middle of winter. Iris Japonica is known above all for its delicate and beautiful flowers of blue, lavender or lilac color.

See also

Full sun balcony plants: here are the characteristics to choose well

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  • Florentine iris

It is not uncommon to find the variety of iris known as Florentine or Florentine also in Italy, where it grows spontaneously in rocky areas or on the walls of country houses. Characterized by an innate elegance, this plant has flowers with white petals. In some cases it is possible to observe lavender shades on the flower. The name is due to the fact that it is found more easily in Tuscany.

  • Iris versicolor

Native to North America and small in size, iris versicolor grows spontaneously in coastal areas and for this reason it is often also called wild; in any case, it can also be easily grown in the home garden. The flowers are characterized by a deep purple color with shades of blue.

  • German iris

Characterized by purple, blue or lilac flowers, the Germanic iris stands out from the others mentioned so far because its flowers are fragrant. Easily cultivable in the garden or in pot, it only needs two main precautions: to be transplanted about every 3 years. and stay in full sun.

  • Iris foetidissima

Native to Western Europe, it also grows spontaneously in many Italian regions, where it is particularly appreciated for its leaves and decorative flowers with a splendid lilac color, with spots tending to blue. Beautiful to look at, perfect as an ornamental plant, but unlike other species, it gives off a very strong smell. Better to keep it outside, perhaps near the door of the house.

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Tips for a correct cultivation of Iris

We reveal a secret: even if you don't have a green thumb, you can try your hand at growing irises. In fact, they are plants that are easily adaptable to the climate of the area in which you live and, whether you have a garden or not, you can get perfect crops even in pots.

  • Grow in pots indoors or on the balcony

The first rule of growing irises in pots is to choose a suitable pot. It may seem obvious, but not all vases are the same: you will need to get one more than 20cm high and with a diameter of no less than 25 / 30cm. The bulbs should be placed underground about 8cm deep, preferably in spring or early autumn. In addition, the chosen vase will be placed inside during the colder months, but also on the balcony as long as it is a sheltered spot. The ideal soil must have the characteristic of being well drained and lightly stratified.

  • Cultivation in the soil

If you are lucky enough to have land available for the cultivation of irises, you can proceed with planting at the end of summer and no later than the beginning of autumn. Before proceeding with the preparation of the soil, carry out a study to understand where to place the most beautiful species and create elegant flower beds or refined borders. The bulbs must be at a distance of about 30 cm from each other. Follow these steps.

  • Get rid of weeds.
  • Add gravel or coarse sand to the soil.
  • Better not to plant the bulbs or rhizomes too deep, because a too deep planting could compromise their flowering.
  • Cover bulbs and rhizomes only partially with soil, this will encourage flowering and prevent the plants from rotting.
  • Water abundantly and wait for flowering the following year.

With these simple tricks you can create beautiful plays of color, also and above all by planting the different species of iris close together.

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When does the iris bloom?

To understand how the flowering of iris works we must take into account that everything depends on the species we have decided to cultivate. Most of the plants bloom in spring, in the month of May to be exact, but some bulbs can give life to wonderful flowers even at the end of winter.
The bulbs and rhizomes should not be completely covered by the earth because they need to remain partially exposed to the air and the sun to facilitate their drying and avoid the risk of rot and fungi.

At the end of flowering it is always a good idea not to cut the leaves, as these are necessary for the plant to give rise to the photosynthesis, essential for storing the energy necessary for the plant to bloom also the following year. You will only be able to remove the leaves completely when they appear withered. In this case, elimination is strictly recommended to prevent the plant from being attacked by parasites.

What you can do, however, is to remove the stems of the flowers at the base or cut the tips of the decayed leaves, to prevent the plants from rotting.

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Features and curiosities

A curiosity about Iris that few people know: it is also known by its name Fleur de Louis (Luigi flower), as King Louis VII chose this flower as a symbol of his coat of arms. Its pronunciation is very similar to that of the Giglio (fleur de lys) so over the years the two names were confused and the coat of arms was transformed into a lily, which is also the symbol of the city of Florence.
The scent of iris flowers is reminiscent of violet, and is highly appreciated. The fragrance can be extracted from the dried rhizomes, but it is a very long and laborious process. We wait for three years for the plant to reach maturity, then proceed with the harvest, putting the rhizomes to dry. After a further period, we proceed to grind the rhizomes which are then distilled to obtain the essential oil.

Main uses of the iris flower in herbal medicine

The iris is, among the perennials, the one that is often used in herbal medicine to heal and soothe wounds, or the skin of the face and body. Let's see how.
The rhizome (stem) of the iris, once dried, is widely used as an astringent tonic for the acne-prone skin of the face, but not only: it is known as a powerful diuretic, purgative and vermifuge, therefore suitable for counteracting the main problems related to the " digestive system.
From the rhizomes of iris a juice is also extracted which in the past was used both to treat wounds and to counteract toothache.
Finally, according to some studies, the iris plant has relaxing properties that help the normal physiological functions of the female uterus during the menstrual cycle.

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The meaning of Iris in the language of flowers

At the beginning of this article we shared a video on the language of flowers: but what does the name Iris mean? The meaning is very particular and can be traced back to the expression “Finally good news”!, but it can change according to the reference species or variety.
The variety of iris fimbriata it symbolizes exalted loves, while the purple flower is a symbol of wisdom and the white one of purity. In short, a plant that we feel we can associate with positive energies, perfect as a gift or treat yourself.

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