flower types

Purple Bearded iris: A Royal and Fragrant Beauty

Purple bearded iris

Purple bearded iris, also known as Iris germanica, is a perennial plant that belongs to the iris family. It is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, but it is widely cultivated around the world for its ornamental value. It is one of the most popular and easy-to-grow irises, with large and showy flowers that range in color from light lavender to deep violet. It also has a sweet and spicy fragrance that attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. In this article, we will learn more about the purple bearded iris, its symbolism, varieties, and care.

What is Purple Bearded Iris?

Purple bearded iris is a herbaceous plant that grows from creeping rhizomes, which are underground stems that store food and water. The plant has sword-shaped, semi-evergreen leaves that are green, silver, or yellow, and may have white or yellow spots or stripes. The flowers are tubular, two-lipped, and four-lobed, with a hooded upper lip and a spreading lower lip. They have a ring of hairs, called the beard, on the lower lip, which gives them their name. The flowers are arranged in clusters or solitary, and bloom from late spring to early summer. The fruits are dry capsules that contain one or two seeds.

What is the name of purple irises?

Purple irises belong to the Iris genus and are often referred to as “Purple Bearded Irises.” Some specific varieties within this category may have distinct names based on their shades of purple, such as ‘Immortality,’ ‘Raspberry Blush,’ ‘Batik,’ ‘Dusky Challenger,’ or ‘Victoria Falls.’ The exact name of a purple iris can vary depending on its particular cultivar or species.

Purple Iris Varieties

Purple iris

Purple bearded iris is classified by height and flower size into six groups: miniature dwarf, standard dwarf, intermediate, miniature tall, border, and tall. The height ranges from 8 inches to 40 inches, and the flower size ranges from 2 inches to 7 inches. The flower color can vary from light lavender to deep violet, and some varieties have bicolors, stripes, spots, or gradients. Some of the most popular and common varieties of purple bearded iris are:

  • ‘Fringe of Gold’: This variety has light purple petals with yellow edges and a yellow beard. It is a tall bearded iris that grows up to 36 inches tall and blooms in late spring.
  • ‘Hello Darkness’: This variety has dark purple petals with a black beard. It is a tall bearded iris that grows up to 37 inches tall and blooms in mid to late spring.
  • ‘Lent A. Williamson’: This variety has lavender-blue petals with a white beard. It is a tall bearded iris that grows up to 40 inches tall and blooms in mid to late spring.
  • ‘Purple Serenade’: This variety has mulberry-claret petals with a yellow beard. It is a tall bearded iris that grows up to 37 inches tall and blooms in late spring or early summer.
  • ‘Victoria Falls’: This variety has light blue-violet petals with a white beard. It is a tall bearded iris that grows up to 40 inches tall and blooms in mid to late spring.

What Do Purple Bearded Iris Symbolize?

Purple bearded iris flower

“Purple bearded iris, much like purple orchids, encapsulate symbolism associated with royalty, dignity, and an enigmatic allure. They echo traits of wisdom, faith, and hope, mirroring the significance of the Greek goddess Iris, messenger of the gods and the radiant rainbow. Similarly intertwined with historical contexts, purple orchids carry symbolic weight akin to the French monarchy’s adoption of the iris as the fleur-de-lis emblem. Used symbolically, purple orchid meaning, like their iris counterparts, convey sentiments of admiration, respect, and fascination while evoking an air of mystery and intrigue.”

Purple Bearded Iris Care

Growing and nurturing purple bearded irises can be a rewarding experience with the right care and attention to their specific needs. Whether grown from seeds, cuttings, divisions, or purchased as nursery plants, these adaptable flowers thrive in optimal conditions that cater to their requirements for light, pruning, watering, and fertilization.

Light Requirements for Purple Bearded Iris

Purple bearded irises flourish in locations offering ample sunlight while providing some protection against strong winds and intense afternoon sun. They prefer a spot with full to partial sun exposure, ensuring they receive around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.

Pruning Techniques for Purple Bearded Iris

Proper pruning is essential for maintaining the health and vigor of purple bearded irises. Regularly remove any dead, diseased, or damaged leaves and flowers to prevent the spread of potential issues. Deadheading spent blooms not only prolongs the blooming period but also prevents self-seeding.

Watering Guidelines for Purple Bearded Iris

Purple Bearded iris

Careful watering is crucial for purple bearded irises. They thrive in well-drained soil that remains moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings to prevent waterlogged conditions, which may lead to root rot.

Fertilizing Practices for Purple Bearded Iris

Purple bearded irises are relatively low-maintenance and do not require excessive fertilization. However, they may benefit from a boost of nutrients in the spring. Apply organic matter like compost or well-aged manure around the plants to enhance their growth and flowering without over-fertilizing.

Ensuring proper care regarding light exposure, pruning, watering, and minimal yet timely fertilization can significantly contribute to the healthy growth and prolific blooming of purple bearded irises. Following these guidelines will help these beautiful flowers thrive and adorn your garden with their stunning purple blooms.

Where do purple irises grow best?

Purple irises grow best in sunny to partly shady locations, with well-drained, moist, rich, and acidic soil. They can tolerate some shade and poor soil, but they will produce fewer blooms and may suffer from more diseases.

Do purple iris come back every year?

Yes, purple iris are perennial plants that come back every year, as long as they are not damaged by frost, pests, or diseases. They can also spread by rhizomes, forming large clumps over time.

Do purple irises need full sun?

No, purple irises do not need full sun, but they do need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day to bloom well. They can also tolerate some shade, especially in hot climates, but they will produce fewer blooms and may suffer from more diseases.

Is purple iris annual or perennial?

Purple iris is a perennial plant, which means it lives for more than two years, and comes back every year. It is not an annual plant, which means it lives for only one year, and dies after flowering and setting seeds.

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