How to Grow, Propagate and Care for Irises
For the professional grower or the backyard enthusiast
This is a valuable course for anyone with a serious interest in irises either as a commercial grower or an enthusiastic home collector. You will gain an in-depth appreciation of the iris, how to grow them to achieve optimum results and the identification of different varieties of irises. Significant sections are included on landscaping with irises, hybridisation and propagation, harvest, post-harvest treatments, achieving and assessing quality, and exhibiting the flowers.

Learn to Grow Iris -as a garden plant or cut flower

Explore the scope the Iris genus; develop an understanding of different types of irises and how they vary in terms of both appearance and cultural requirements.

There are 8 lessons as follows:

    1. Introduction -Review of the system of plant identification,  Physiology, Information sources
    2. Culture -Planting, Staking, Mulching, Watering, Feeding, Pruning, etc.
    3. Propagation and Hybridisation
    4. Review of Major Types of Irises
    5. Pest and Diseases
    6. Irrigation and Hydroponics
    7. Landscaping with Irises
    8. Harvest, Post Harvest, Exhibiting and Quality

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

What Irises can you grow?

Irises come from a very a wide variety of climates and soil types. There are irises that suit almost any climate (except very arid areas)

There is no “ideal” location for “all” irises.  Consider:

  • Irises occur naturally in both sub arctic and sub tropical climates
  • Irises can be found growing naturally at very high altitudes above the snow line, and also close to sea level.
  • There are iris species that are native to deserts, and other species that are native to swamps.
  • There are species which must have very well drained and dry soil at least part of the year, and others that need soil rich in humus and saturated with water.
  • Some grow in alkaline soils, while others will die if the soil is not acidic.

If you are going to select the right iris for the right position, you need to get to know the differences between species and cultivars, and understand the factors that determine places you wish to grow them.

A Key Species

One of the most widely cultivated species of iris is Iris germanica
It's common name is Flag, Orris or Fleur-de lis.

This species grows from a rhizome and has a bearded flower. These and other characteristics are not all shared by all irises though. There is in fact a great degree of diversity between different species of iris.

Origins: Uncertain, but likely the Mediterranean. These plants are naturalised in many parts of the world

Appearance: Clump forming, spreading with green to blue green foliage

Culture: Hardy and grows in most soil types. Rhizomes like warm soil, so mulching can have a negative affect in summer. They respond to watering whiles establish, but once established, tolerate periods of dry and may require little irrigation. Does best in full morning sun, but can tolerate dappled shade in the afternoon. Remove dead flower stalks and dead or dying leaves.

Flowering: Stems to 80cm tall, flowers can be fragrant, have a beard of papillate hairs that are white to yellow with some purple; Falls are 8 to 12cm long, commonly white to violet, but many coloured forms exist (White, yellow, red, violet). Flowers spring through to summer. Flowers can be scented,

Classification: More correctly referred to as “Iris X germanica”; because the plants that exist (even in the wild) are mostly, if not all, considered to be hybridised (resulted from cross breeding with other species). These plants are considered to be the parents of many if not most of the thousands of cultivated bearded iris varieties. Leaves are glaucous and erect around 40 cm long and 3cm wide (can be larger or smaller)

The rhizomes of the variety “florentina” are harvested, dried and powdered to produce “orris root” used in the perfume industry.