Friday, March 30, 2012

Iris Unguicularis-AKA Winter Blooming Iris

Having just experienced "The Winter That Wasn't" here in Jersey, it may seem strange to be writing about a winter blooming iris, but we try to introduce you to some plants that may be unfamiliar to all of you who just remember Grandma's iris (tall bearded) growing in her back yard.

Iris Unguicularis, additionally known as Alge
rian iris, is rarely available and rarely seen. Its foliage is evergreen and is about 18" in height, forming a nice clump. The approximately 3" light purple blooms are nestled in the center of the clump.

The plant will start to bloom when the weather starts to turn cold, around November and will continue to bloom until about April, stopping its blooms if the temperature drops to 15 degrees or so. The plant above had 6 or 7 flowers blooming for months since this winter was so mild.

Winter Blooming Iris does well in a warm, dry location in
zones 7-9 and really seems to thrive on neglect. When you come upon it in the garden in January or February in full bloom, it really surprises you. The color and size of the flowers make you think of spring, not winter.

The iris should be planted in the early fall by division. It takes a couple of years to form a nice size blooming clump.

With the warm weather continuing, we expect it to be an early year for all our plants, so as we watch the flowers fade on the Winter Blooming Iris, we welcome the burst of color that spring brings and await the first blossoms on our bearded iris.

Look forward to seeing you at the farm!

Happy Spring!

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