In Greek mythology, "Iris" is considered to be the Goddess of Love. Blue iris is said to symbolize faith, hope, and eloquence in the language of ancient love lore. Another name for the Blue Iris is the fleur-de-lis, the national flower of France. Stories and symbolism aside, Blue Iris is a perennial favorite amongst gardening enthusiasts for both its deep cerulean color and its showy appearance at maturity. The Iris flower comes in a variety of colors, which is easy to understand when you know that the word "Iris" actually means rainbow. Iris flowers have three erect petals, which are said to symbolize faith, valor, and wisdom regardless of the color of the flower. Blue iris is also a traditional gift upon a couple's 25th wedding anniversary, and many flowers shops and online retailers will advertise Blue Iris for this purpose.
The Blue Iris flower is an herbaceous perennial flower from the family Iridceae that is a popular choice for home gardens, water gardens, and public botanical gardens. Long revered by artists and horticulturists alike, painters as famous as Vincent Van Gogh painted one to a series of paintings featuring Blue Iris. Additionally, the oils from Blue Iris are thought to have sedative properties, and are often used as such during healing and massage sessions. There are more than 200 different varietals of Iris in a tremendous number of colors, heights, and growing properties.
Blue Iris comes in many shapes and sizes, from the Giant Blue Iris to the Slender Blue Iris to the Western Blue Iris, Wild Blue Iris, and the particularly striking Caesar's Brother Blue Iris, which is one of the easiest to grow and showiest of all Blue Orchid varietals. The Slender Blue Iris matures into a striking blue flower with a thin ribbon of pale yellow outlined in white that appears in the very center. The Western Blue Iris is often nicknamed the "western blue flag" for its display of various shades of blue on each individual large flower. The Caesar's Broth Blue Iris has large deeply blue hued flowers with bluish green leaves surrounding each flower. Each varietal can grow to heights of between one and four feet.
Blue Iris across the board prefers full direct sunlight and well hydrated nutrient rich soil that has excellent drainage. Blue Iris will fail to thrive unless these growing conditions are met, but are fairly easy to grow if these conditions are available regardless of the varietal. Blue Iris is also very tolerant of less than ideal lighting and soil conditions as long as drainage conditions are met. Blue Iris bulbs do not tolerate cold well, and planting should be done prior to the first frost of winter, and bulbs should be stored for winter and planted only after the ground thaws in the spring as soil temperatures will trigger the bulb to begin setting out roots.
Blue Iris are most commonly grown from bulbs. Since heights and widths will differ between varietal, achieving the right spacing for bulb planting will depend on the varietal selected, and specific instructions for the selected varietal should be consulted. The average spread ranges right around two feet at maturity, so planting bulbs approximately 24 inches apart can give adequate room for spread. If planted in a home outdoor garden blue iris bulbs mix in very well with other inhabitants and can be planted throughout the garden as long as lighting is adequate and drainage requirements are met. Bulbs can be planted in a shallow hole that is just as high as the bulb itself, and filled with soil and an added top layer of mulch to help discourage weeds and garden pests. Watering can be done to maintain soil at moist to wet as long as there is adequate drainage around the roots.
Blue Iris can be susceptible to iris borer and soft root rot. Using a mixture of mildly soapy water as a mist can adequately treat most iris borer infestations, and commercial pesticide solutions are available to treat more serious infestations. Misting with the mild soapy water before iris borer becomes an issue can be a preventative measure. For soft root rot it is necessary to relocate Blue Iris to a less waterlogged location. Blue Iris will bloom in early to mid summer and fertilization should be done approximately one and a half months prior to the start of the bloom season to give Blue Iris extra nourishment prior to its big growing season.