Floriology of the Iris and Planting Tips

The Cedar House Living Botanical Message Iris Collection 

I've recently added a small collection of gorgeous, vintage-inspired irises to my landscape garden. This journal entry is written to pay tribute to this incredible bloom and the deeper meaning and message it holds. The bearded irises I chose are not your traditional purple irises. They are a special collection of antique pastel hues that are sure to make you fall in love with the vintage flair of this flower. 

botanical message iris vintage collection by cedar house living
Historical Floriology of the Iris

You see, the iris shares its name with the ancient Greek Goddess Iris, who acted as a messenger between heaven and earth, thus the flower's most powerful meaning is actually "message". The iris is also symbolic of faith, hope, wisdom, truth and positive change. They are so powerful, in fact, that they were embroidered on the gowns of Queen Elizabeth I, used on coats of arms during Victorian times, and were the symbol of French royalty for centuries. More recently, Queen Elizabeth II often wore an iris brooch to pay homage to the significance of this flower in her family line. The iris also appears in works by famous artists including daVinci, Renoir, van Gogh, and Monet.

Queen Elizabeth I iris embroidered gown

Queen Elizabeth II chelsea iris brooch

Irises can be enjoyed in your backyard garden or cut and drop these striking blooms into your favorite antique vessel to adorn your tabletop this summer. As part of a bouquet, they make a stunning botanical message to someone going through a hard time, as a reminder to have hope and that brighter days are ahead. No cottage garden is complete without these beautiful, and meaningful, blooms. I grow Pink Attraction, Concertina, Celebration Song, and Magdalena Louisa.

Irises should be planted in the fall for spring blooms. When you open your package, you will find these odd-looking tuberous roots, called rhizomes. While they don't look like much, they will actually multiply underground in the years to come, once solidly established. Within a few years, you will likely have enough to divide and share! It is truly a gift that keeps on giving. 

Planting Rhizomes

If this is your first time growing irises, you're not alone! I have never grown them either and am excited to be on this journey alongside you. I did a significant amount of research on the best ways to plant irises and here are some tips I wanted to share to make sure your planting experience is enjoyable and successful.

iris rhizome planting tips by cedar house living

Garden tool shown: Spade Hand Trowel by Barebones Living.

First, irises are grown in zones 5 through 9. They need plenty of sun to bloom but can tolerate some shade. 

  1. To plant your rhizome, choose a your location, loosen the soil in a 12" diameter, and hallow it out about the depth of the rhizome itself. Give your rhizome 12"-18" of space to multiply on the years to come.
  2. Make a small mound of soil in the center of the hole you've made and set the rhizome on top of the mound so that the tip of the tuber will be level with the ground or even just above ground. Gently open the roots so they rest loosely down either side of the mound. The leftover plant foliage attached to the rhizome should be pointing straight upward toward the sky and should be above the dirt after you cover your hole.
  3. Cover the rhizome and hole with the soil, packing tightly to secure the rhizome into place and label it.
  4. If your soil is super dry, give it a good drink of water.

planting an iris rhizome tips

Note: Check the soil around your rhizomes once or twice during the winter to make sure it has not completely dried out. Water if they are planted in an area that doesn't get occasional rain or snow.

In the spring, your rhizome will begin to shoot out flat spiky foliage but may take another year before it begins to bloom, as it needs some time to really establish itself in its new home. Be patient, as it will be well worth the wait.

 language of flowers book iris botanical message

how to plant iris rhizomes

If you are drawn to the language of flowers, a complete glossary of flowers, herbs and other botanicals and their meanings can be found in a book I co-author with Lisa McGuiness, called The Love Language of Flowers. It also includes instructions and floral concepts as well as 30 botanical designs with meaning that honor the seasonal rhythms of nature, build confidence, and provide flexibility to let your own creative voice develop along the way.  It is truly an excellent resource for those seeking to grow their botanical creativity in a meaningful way. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that provide a convenient way to show you a product I use and recommend. Cedar House Living LLC gains a small commission from purchases you make through these links at no additional cost to you. By using my affiliate link, you directly support my ability to continue sharing and inspire others. 

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