Garden Guide: The Amateur Gardener's Handbook
Typical German Iris Bloom
s, standard, p, pistil; c. crest of pistil; st. p,
stigmatic pocket; st, stamen; f, fall; t, tube;
sp, spathe valve; o, ovary; r, reticulation;
b, beard.
A discussion of Iris is not
complete without a short con-
sideration of the way the
German Iris came about. The
dwarf German Iris is derived
from I. pumila and a number
of other dwarf species. The
tall varieties are the result of
I. variegata, a species with
yellow standards and ma-
hogany marked falls; I. pal-
lida, a very pale blue species
with the two spathe valves
(shown in sketch) always very
papery and dry; I. germanica,
a deep violet species, earlier
than the others; I. florentina,
a pale lavender white; I.
flavescens, a very good light yellow. Various combinations of these
species have given the following eight groups of German Iris: I.
variegata, pallida, florentina, sambucina, neglecta, squsjens, amcena,
plicata. There are other bearded species of Iris worthy of culture,
such as I. mesopotamica, benacensis, cypriana, Kochii and Caterina.
It is interesting to know that Iris florentina, the old-fashioned
sweet, early-blooming, pale lavender- white species, is the orris-root
of commerce and believed to be the original of the Fleur-de-lis, or
French national floral emblem. The belles of ancient Greece grew
it both for flowers and root, and the growing of this root is a leading
industry of northern Italy. The rhizomes are dug in the Summer
and peeled to remove the outer bark. The separate joints are laid
aside to dry until the end of two years, when they will have acquired
a delicate fragrance of Violets. The root pieces, which have a white
appearance, are brought to the market of perfumers who powder them
for dentifrices or sachet powders, or when distilled with water form the
oil of orris, the basis of many perfumes.
Almost all Irises like sun. The best fertilizers for them are wood-
ashes " and bonemeal. The German Iris likes lime; the Japanese Iris
is thought to not like a calcium soil. Most Irises are sensitive to
active manure. After the first year there will be little need for pro-
tecting any but the weakest plants.
They are best transplanted after blooming, when the leaves
have matured; this ,will be in August or September, not much later,
for roots should become established before freezing. The Spring is