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Dramatic and show-stopping, irises are one of the most eye-catching cut flowers around. They are just as stunning when showcased in a home garden. Luckily, irises are quite easy to grow, as long as you take your climate into account.
Irises were, centuries ago, the inspiration for the fleur-de-lis symbol. They feature six petals, three of which point upward and three downward. Depending on the variety, some or all of these petals may be ruffled. Elongated, somewhat sword-shaped leaves provide a nice backdrop for the flowers. Depending on variety, plants can grow from 30 centimetres to 1.5 metres in height, and tend to be rather dense. Irises are available in a wide range of colours and styles, with purple, blue and white being the most common.
Australian irises don't resemble a traditional iris very much, but they're a great choice for gardeners looking to naturalize, as they occur naturally in coastal areas. These native irises are simple in appearance, featuring three larger petals and usually found in shades of purple.
How to plant and care for your irises will depend on the variety you choose. The most common are bearded, bog, woodland and rockery irises. Full to partial sun is a shared trait, however, and most irises should be planted in the fall months.
With their showy appearance, irises are great for gift-giving on nearly any occasion. They brighten up a hospital room as a get-well-soon gift, they make wonderful just-because bouquets and are beautiful in the center of your table during a dinner party. As a traditional flower they still feature heavily in funeral arrangements teamed with simple white or a contrasting yellow. They also appear often in arrangement designed for the birth of a baby boy as there few flowers available naturally in blue tones. However you use irises, remember to cut early in the morning and add preservative to get the most enjoyment out of your blooms.