Irises, an incredibly varied genus of plants, include over 300 species. This much-loved family includes ranges from rare, difficult breeds to the hardy garden variety available through Michigan Bulb. Most irises have ornate, showy flowers.
Some varieties of iris are planted as bulbs (bulb irises), others are available as bareroot divisions (rhizome irises). Bulb irises are Dutch, English, Spanish, Reticulata, and Juno irises. The rhizome group includes bearded irises, crested irises, and beardless varieties such as the Japanese, Louisiana, and Siberica iris.
Irises are a varied bunch - the care requirements for these beloved flowers depend on the type. However, all irises require acidic soil and plenty of moisture. Be sure to water in well, and provide organic material.
The most common type of bulb irises are commonly called Dutch irises. Planted in the fall, these are a favorite in the U.S. and Europe, where they bloom in the spring alongside daffodils and tulips. As the names suggest, English and Spanish irises are popular in Europe, while Juno irises occur naturally in the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Dutch iris bulbs thrive in full sun. They should be set about 4 inches deep in well-drained soil.
Rhizome irises include delicate flowering plants, falling into three categories: bearded, beardless, and crested. As the names imply, these categories describe the shape of irises’ unique flower heads. Japanese and Louisiana irises fall into the beardless category, and are popular perennials.
Rhizome irises grow best in slightly acidic soil and full sun. Plant the rhizomes near the surface, and water well. Again, growing instructions will differ on these strikingly diverse flowers.
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