The symbolic meaning of the Iris is, in addition to the symbol for masculinity, meaningful friendship. That’s why the Iris is a good idea to gift to a friend. Other than that, they are of course very beautiful. They are available in (almost) every color of the rainbow, except for red. 

Iris flowers

An Iris is a species from the Iridaceae family. Both the family and its subspecies (genera) are called Irises and Iridaceae. All Irises have long stems with six petals. Three of them point downwards and three upwards. The Iris flower comes in golden yellow, white, blue, purple, pink and apricot shades. Globally you can divide iris flowers into two groups: the Reticulata group and the Xiphium group. The Reticulata group are low-growing Irises and the Xiphium group mainly contains Irises that are used for floriculture.

Planting Iris flowers

Iris flowers can be divided into Bulb Irises, Iris Rhizomes and marsh plants. I will give tips on how to plant the Irises specific to each species.

Iris flower bulb

Reticulata Irises are Bulb Irises. Xiphium Irises or Xiphium Iridaceae are also Bulb Irises, which are known as the Dutch Iris, Spanish Iris, Dwarf Iris or English Iris. Bulb Irises are planted in the autumn before the frosting season, preferably in dry, well-draining soil at a depth of 6 to 8 centimeters. You make a planting hole, where you insert the bulb with the growing point upwards. It is best to cover the bulb with a layer of sand and then fallen leaves on top to protect it from the frost. Read the information on the package whether your Iris prefers a spot in the sun or in partial shade.

Rhizome Irises

In addition to the Bulb Iris, you also have the Rhizome Irises. Rhizome Irises are mostly used for in the garden. There is an Iris for every type of soil, for in the sun and in the shade, although most of them do prefer a sunny spot. For the border you can plant a Bearded Iris (Iris Germanica) or a Siberian Iris (Iris Siberica), a Stinking Iris (Iris Foetisissima) or a Dwarf Iris (Iris Pumila). Rhizome Irises are planted in well-draining, loosened soil. You make a planting hole and put the Rhizome in it with the growing point upwards. The growing point may protrude above the ground. This will keep the tip from rotting.

Iris Flower as an aquatic Plant

Then you also have those Irises that grow like an aquatic plant with roots. Examples of these Irises are the Japanese Iris (Iris Ensata), yellow Iris (Iris Pseudacorus), and the Siberian Iris (Iris Siberica). Irises that belong to the swamp plants grow best in moist, acidic and fertile soil. You plant these like you plant perennials. You dig a hole in the ground, turn the soil around it, put the plant with the roots in the ground and press firmly. At last you water the plant.

prune iris flowers

Prune Iris flowers

Most Irises do not require pruning. Optionally, remove the withered leaves of the deciduous species, so new fresh leaves develop well in spring. If you really want to prune, prune the leaves of the evergreen Irises in autumn to about 15 centimeters in length.

Also remove the dead stems and dead leaves from these species. Once every few years you can tear certain varieties if you notice the center no longer produces flowers. You dig out the plant, tear the healthy pieces with the roots apart and replant them in the soil.

Faded Irises

You can cut off spent Iris flowers at the bottom of the flower stem. The best is to let the leaf sit for a while. The bulb absorbs sunlight and nutrients through the leaf, so it can handle the winter and bloom beautifully again in spring.

Iris flowers for the garden

There are more than 300 types of Irises, in all shapes and sizes, available for in the garden. Below I list a few very common ones.

Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris

The Latin name for the Bearded Iris is Iris Germanica. This species is available in many colours: purple, white, yellow, blue, orange and green. It flowers from the end of May until July. The plant owes its name to the ‘beard’, which is a hairy piece located on the petals. It is a deciduous species that likes to be put in a sunny spot in your garden. The height of it is about 60 to 70 centimeters.

Japanese Iris flowers

Iris Ensata or the Japanese Iris is a swamp plant. The flower is quite remarkable and can have a diameter of up to 20 centimeters in certain varieties. The most common color is purple with a yellow heart, but it can also be striped or spotted. The flowering period is from June until July, the leaves are sword-shaped and about 60 centimeters high. The height of the flower is around 90 centimeters. The plant is very suitable to be planted in the water garden, for example on the transition from the water to the land.

Dwarf Iris

Iris Reticulata is a bulbous plant with bright blue flowers. The bulb flowers early in the months of February and March also with bright blue flowers. It is a low plant, which is about 10 to 15 centimeters high in bloom.

Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris

The Yellow Iris is a well-known, native riverbank plant in the Netherlands, which you can encounter along the ditch. It flowers in May and June with yellow flowers and prefers a swampy, sunny spot. The height is 60 up to 80 centimeters. The plant can be propagated by tearing the roots. You can also use the seeds to propagate the plant.

Iris Latifolia

The Dutch name for this Iris Flower is the English Iris. It is a herbaceous perennial with violet-blue flowers with an elongated yellow center spot on the lower petal. This Iris is native to the Pyrenees. The height of this flower is about 60 centimeters. There are varieties in white, purple-red and other shades of blue. The flowering time is in May, June and July.

Dutch Iris

The Iris Hollandica is a bulbous plant and flowers in May, June and July. This species is available in different colours. There are even two-toned varieties. This deciduous species prefers a sunny, calcareous position and is not evergreen. The height of the plant is about 40 up to 50 centimeters.