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Member of :

GWAA

The Garden Writers Association


Last Update 06/03/08

Plant of the Month

Irises

 Irises can be grown very successfully in Florida. Members of this plant's family, Iridaceae are quit diverse, their natural habitats range from the Arctic Tundra to the hottest deserts of central Asia. Iris are fairly tough, disease and insect resistant plants. 

Iris sp.

 

Louisiana iris "PROFESSOR JIM"

Siberian iris "SHAKER'S PRAYER"

Japanese iris "CASCADE CREST"

Iris pseudacorus "YELLOW WATER"

Iris foetidissima "GLADWYN"

Iris pseudacorus "YELLOW FLAG"

Irises most often used as garden plants in Florida fall into two groups: Bearded Irises and Beardless Irises. Although the Tall Bearded is the most widely grown of the irises there are others just as easy to grow.

  • Bearded Iris are identified by thick, bushy "beards" on each of the falls (lower petals) of the blossoms. Originally, most of these were native to central and southern Europe. This huge, hybrid complex of Pogon (bearded) irises encompasses innumerable selections in various colors and range in height from 8 to 28" tall. These irises can be grown from rhizomes in Zones 3 to 10 in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Water deeply during drought. Most bloom in late spring. Propagate by division of rhizomes.

  • Beardless Irises are mostly native to Asia. The following types are commonly grown in Florida gardens: 

    1. Siberians, the blooms of which are mostly blue, violet and white with large falls and smaller standards. They are most attractive in established clumps and grow to a height of 2 to 4'. Grow in Zones 4 to 10 in neutral to slightly acid,  moisture-retentive, rich soil. Propagate by division of rhizomes.

    2. Japanese, which require a slightly acid soil and present some of the most spectacular flowers of all the irises. Blooms are usually huge, ruffled and flat in form; some are marbled with gray or white. Plants reach a height of 2 - 3'. Grow in Zones 5 to 10 in soil in shallow standing water or very moisture-retentive, rich soil. Propagate by division of rhizomes.

    3. Louisianas, which are native to the American Gulf Coast, require fertile soil that is somewhat acid and wet in the spring. These plants do best in Zones 4 to 9 in full to partial sun. The blooms are usually very wide petaled and open, showing brightly colored style-arms and sharp signal-crests. Numerous flower colors are available and plants range in height from 2 - 4'. Propagate by division of rhizomes.

    Irises for Florida

Name Flower Color Bloom Time Zones Light Height Propagation
Bearded Iris Various Spring/Early Summer 3 - 10 Full Sun 6" - 4.5' Division
Iris chrysographes Violet Summer 7 - 9 Full to Partial Sun 1 - 2' Division, Seeds
Iris cristata Blue Spring 6 - 9 Full to Partial Sun 6 - 10" Division, Seeds
Iris douglasiana Various Late Spring 8 - 9 Partial Sun 1 - 2' Division, Seeds
Iris ensata Various Summer 5 - 10 Full to Partial Sun 2 - 3' Division, Seeds
Iris 'Florentina' Blue Late Spring 3 - 10 Full Sun 15" - 2.5' Division
Iris foetidissima Mauve Spring/Summer 7 - 10 Full Sun to Shade 1.5' - 2.5' Division, Seeds
Iris x germanica Various Late Spring 3 - 10 Full Sun 1.5 - 2.5' Division
Louisiana Iris Various Spring/Summer 4 - 9 Full Sun to Partial Shade 6" - 4' Division
Iris pallida Lavender Late Spring 3 - 10 Full Sun 3 - 4' Division
Iris pseudacorus Yellow Early Summer 4 - 9 Partial Shade 2.5 - 6' Division, Seeds
Iris pumila Various Spring 3 - 10 Full Sun 9" Division
Iris Sibirica Various Late Spring/Early Summer 4 - 10 Full Sun to Partial Shade 2 - 4' Division, Seeds
Iris tectorum Various Early Summer 4 - 10 Full Sun to Partial Shade 8" - 1' Division, Seeds
Iris unguicularis Lilac Late Fall/Early Spring 8 -10 Full Sun to Partial Shade 1 - 1.5' Division, Seeds
Iris versicolor Blue Spring/Summer 3 - 9 Full Sun to Partial Shade 1 - 3' Division, Seeds

Sources:  PERENNIALS FOR AMERICAN GARDENS, Garden.com

 
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