It is a peculiarity of an Iris lover that he does not like to have an Iris called a Flag, although most persons call these flowers by that name. With the advent of new varieties, the Iris is gaining in popularity from year to year. A national society honors this flower and many cities have Iris clubs. The exquisite colors and the unrivaled form have attracted many flower lovers. A collection of varieties is a veritable rainbow of soft colors.
BEARDED, or GERMAN IRIS
The most cultivated group of Irises are the bearded sorts, all of which have thick, fleshy, underground stems rendering their increase most easily accomplished. They are remarkably well adapted to different situations. They do well in hot, dry, sunny places as well as the cooler and damper spots. In the shade, they are not at their best. They require frequent transplanting, as the clumps soon become too thick.
Gorgeously colored and giant ni size the Japanese Iris (I. laevigata) will become more popular in the future, for now, the Japanese names have been translated and the flower buyer may be sure of the sort he buys from the nurseryman. Unlike most Bearded Irises, the Japanese Iris is a flat bloom, the leaves are narrower and the rhizomes are smaller and more compact. They delight in the water when in bloom but not at other times during the year.
For the margins of pools, where the soil is a trifle too damp for other flowers, the Siberian Iris (I. sibirica) thrives. It will not succeed with its roots in water, however. The flowers are rich purple, light lavender, blue or white, and like the Japanese Iris, these flowers are without the prominent beard found in the Bearded Iris.
There are two common sorts of Iris which may be planted directly in the water; namely, the European Wild Flag (I. pseudacorus) and the Blue Flag (I. versicolor). The European Wild Flag has large, yellow flowers, the petals of which are drooping. The flowers appear among the luxuriant leaves. The Blue Flag is a familiar flower to most Americans, for what boy or girl has not gotten wet feet gathering it? Both of these sorts will thrive in ordinary garden soil without a great quantity of water.
In April, during favorable early Springs, we are delighted with the various dwarf Irises. Growing about 6 inches tall they supplement the Spring bulbs. Especially charming are the purple dwarf sorts when planted in front of Emperor Narcissus. I. pumila is the dwarf bearded species; I. verna and I. cristala are beardless sorts. The latter sort is very tiny and has very slender creeping rhizomes. Being sensitive to too much moisture, it grows very well when planted upon little mounds of soil or in perfectly drained spots.
Hybridists have crossed the tall Bearded Iris with the dwarf bearded sorts to produce a group intermediate in season and height between the two parents.
How to use an Iris
The use of Iris has been suggested in the above paragraphs. It is an excellent border subject and for home use, the flowers are attractively arranged in our rooms. There are wet soil, sorts, tall varieties, very early kinds and all types of bloom to attract each of us.
How to plant
The simple, let-them-alone, culture of the Iris is gratifying to the homeowner who is not a careful gardener. They do not like water upon their crowns in Winter, except where noted. The bearded sorts are said to like lime; the Japanese Iris does not prefer a limestone soil.
Merely cut up the old clumps to propagate them. Each piece will grow, even if allowed to lie about the garden for a week without planting. The Bearded sorts increase rapidly and should be divided every three years.