Bulb Iris are sometimes the "forgotten child" when it comes to the world of iris. They can be very effective when used in annual or perennial flower beds, lending an extra splash of color and then fading away until the next year. All bulb iris benefit from a dose of slow release bulb food when being planted, and then also again in the spring or summer as they are blooming. Fertilizing helps build strong healthy plants and promotes more increases of the bulb. Once planted, the bulbs generally do not need to be lifted or divided for a number of years.
A bulb iris of great significance (in my humble opinion), but rarely seen. If you are familiar with the Dutch Iris, picture the petals with darker, more vibrant shades of blue, purple, rose and white, covered with a velveteen sheen, and you will have English Iris. Full sun and well drained soil work best, although we have had good experience growing them in partial sun conditions. With a fibrous skin, the bulbs of mature plants can be about the size of an egg. They are unfortunately prone to a fusarian disease that causes spotting, but since they are easily frown from seed, and seed is patently free of disease, you can continue enjoying them for many years. Hard to find, beautiful to grow, they are worthy of seeking out and adding to the landscape!
When most people hear "bulb iris", a mental picture of Dutch Iris (Iris xiphium) pops into their mind. Dutch Iris are one of the most highly utilized cut flowers in the world! Therefore, I often use Dutch Iris as the basis for describing some of the other bulb iris available.
The "reticulate iris", so called for the netted skin that protects the bulb, are also bright colors for gray winter days. They are available in several shades of blue and violet, with yellow and white highlights.
Iris is a flowering plant genus of 310 accepted species with showy flowers. As well as being the scientific name, iris is also widely used as a common name for all Iris species, as well as some belonging to other closely related genera. A common name for some species is flags, while the plants of the subgenus Scorpiris are widely known as junos, particularly in horticulture. It is a popular garden flower.
The often-segregated, monotypic genera Belamcanda (blackberry lily, I. domestica), Hermodactylus (snake's head iris, I. tuberosa), and Pardanthopsis (vesper iris, I. dichotoma) are currently included in Iris.
The inflorescences are in the shape of a fan and contain one or more symmetrical six-lobed flowers. These grow on a pedicel or peduncle. The three sepals, which are usually spreading or droop downwards, are referred to as "falls". They expand from their narrow base (the "claw" or "haft"), into a broader expanded portion ("limb" or "blade") and can be adorned with veining, lines or dots. In the centre of the blade, some of the rhizomatous irises have a "beard", a row of fuzzy hairs at the base of each falls petal which gives pollinators a landing place and guides them to the nectar.
The three, sometimes reduced, petals stand upright, partly behind the sepal bases. They are called "standards". Some smaller iris species have all six lobes pointing straight outwards, but generally limb and standards differ markedly in appearance. They are united at their base into a floral tube that lies above the ovary (known as an epigynous or inferior ovary). The three styles divide towards the apex into petaloid branches; this is significant in pollination.
The iris flower is of interest as an example of the relation between flowering plants and pollinating insects. The shape of the flower and the position of the pollen-receiving and stigmatic surfaces on the outer petals form a landing-stage for a flying insect, which in probing for nectar, will first come into contact with the perianth, then with the three stigmatic stamens in one whorled surface which is borne on an ovary formed of three carpels. The shelf-like transverse projection on the inner whorled underside of the stamens is beneath the overarching style arm below the stigma, so that the insect comes in contact with its pollen-covered surface only after passing the stigma; in backing out of the flower it will come in contact only with the non-receptive lower face of the stigma. Thus, an insect bearing pollen from one flower will, in entering a second, deposit the pollen on the stigma; in backing out of a flower, the pollen which it bears will not be rubbed off on the stigma of the same flower.
The iris fruit is a capsule which opens up in three parts to reveal the numerous seeds within. In some species, the seeds bear an aril. Such as Iris stolonifera which as light brown seeds that have thick white aril (or coatings).
In general, modern classifications usually recognise six subgenera, of which five are restricted to the Old World; the sixth (subgenus Limniris) has a Holarctic distribution. The two largest subgenera are further divided into sections. The Iris subgenus has been divided into six sections; bearded irises (or pogon irises), Psammiris, Oncocyclus, Regelia, Hexapogon and Pseudoregelia. Iris subg. Limniris has been divided into 2 sections; Lophiris (or 'Evansias' or crested iris) and Limniris which was further divided into 16 series.
Nearly all species are found in temperate Northern Hemisphere zones, from Europe to Asia and across North America. Although diverse in ecology, Iris is predominantly found in dry, semi-desert, or colder rocky mountainous areas. Other habitats include grassy slopes, meadowlands, woodland, bogs and riverbanks. Some irises like Iris setosa Pall. can tolerate damp (bogs) or dry sites (meadows), and Iris foetidissima can be found in woodland, hedge banks and scrub areas.
Narcissus mosaic virus is most commonly known from Narcissus. Wylie et al., 2014 make the first identification of Narcissus mosaic virus infecting this genus, and the first in Australia. Japanese iris necrotic ring virus commonly infects this genus. It was, however, unknown in Australia until Wylie et al., 2012 identified it here in I. ensata.
Iris is extensively grown as ornamental plant in home and botanical gardens. Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in New Jersey, for example, is a living iris museum with over 10,000 plants, while in Europe the most famous iris garden is arguably the Giardino dell'Iris in Florence (Italy) which every year hosts a well attended iris breeders' competition. Irises, especially the multitude of bearded types, feature regularly in shows such as the Chelsea Flower Show.
For garden cultivation, iris classification differs from taxonomic classification. Garden iris are classed as either bulb iris or rhizome iris (called rhizomatous) with a number of further subdivisions. Due to a wide variety of geographic origins, and thus great genetic diversity, cultivation needs of iris vary greatly.
Iris grow well in most any garden soil types providing they are well-drained. The earliest to bloom are species like I. junonia and I. reichenbachii, which flower as early as February and March in the Northern Hemisphere, followed by the dwarf forms of I. pumila, and then by most of the tall bearded varieties, such as the German iris and its variety florentina, sweet iris, Hungarian iris, lemon-yellow iris (I. flavescens), Iris sambucina, and their natural and horticultural hybrids such as those described under names like I. neglecta or I. squalens and best united under I. lurida.
Bearded iris are classified as dwarf, tall, or aril. In Europe, the most commonly found garden iris is a hybrid iris (falsely called German iris, I. germanica which is sterile) and its numerous cultivars. Various wild forms (including Iris aphylla) and naturally occurring hybrids of the Sweet iris (I. pallida) and the Hungarian iris (I. variegata) form the basis of almost all modern hybrid bearded irises. Median forms of bearded iris (intermediate bearded, or IB; miniature tall bearded, or MTB; etc.) are derived from crosses between tall and dwarf species like Iris pumila.
The "beard", short hairs arranged to look like a long furry caterpillar, is found toward the back of the lower petals and its purpose is to guide pollinating insects toward the reproductive parts of the plant. Bearded irises have been cultivated to have much larger blooms than historically; the flowers are now twice the size of those a hundred years ago. Ruffles were introduced in the 1960s to help stabilize the larger petals.
Bearded iris are easy to cultivate and propagate and have become very popular in gardens. A small selection is usually held by garden centres at appropriate times during the season, but there are thousands of cultivars available from specialist suppliers (more than 30,000 cultivars of tall bearded iris). They are best planted as bare root plants in late summer, in a sunny open position with the rhizome visible on the surface of the soil and facing the sun. They should be divided in summer every two or three years, when the clumps become congested.
This section contains the cushion irises or royal irises, a group of plants noted for their large, strongly marked flowers. Between 30 and 60 species are classified in this section, depending on the authority. Species of section Oncocyclus are generally strict endemics, typically occurring in a small number of scattered, disjunct populations, whose geographical isolation is enhanced by their pollination strategy and myrmecochory seed dispersal. Morphological divergence between populations usually follows a cline reflecting local adaptation to environment conditions; furthermore, this largely overlaps divergence between species, making it difficult to identify discrete species boundaries in these irises. Compared with other irises the cushion varieties are scantily furnished with narrow sickle-shaped leaves and the flowers are usually borne singly on the stalks; they are often very dark and in some almost blackish. The cushion irises are somewhat fastidious growers, and to be successful with them they must be planted rather shallow in very gritty well-drained soil. They should not be disturbed in the autumn, and after the leaves have withered the roots should be protected from heavy rains until growth starts again naturally. 041b061a72