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Iris: EverythingYou Need to Know

Looking for a showy flower to put in your vase this spring? Why not go for a stunning bunch of irises. This fabulous bloom certainly has a story to tell which first dates back to 1500 BC when the Ancient Egyptians would place them on the tombs of pharaohs to protect them as they entered the afterlife. It is believed that King Thutmose III of Egypt started to cultivate these blooms in his gardens around 1749 BC.

Jump forward a few hundred years to Ancient Greece and this magnificent flower finally earns its name after the Goddess of the Rainbow. The Goddess would use to send messages between the gods in heaven and human beings on earth and the story also goes that wherever the Goddess walked these flowers would bloom!

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MEANING OF IRIS FLOWER

Although they may look delicate, the iris is actually one tough cookie. Although some species grow quite happily in meadows and woodlands, amazingly you will usually find it growing in extreme locations such as deserts or cold, rocky mountainous areas.

It’s for this plucky attitude that the flower represents hope, trust and valour. The ideal bloom if you know someone who has recently passed some exams or a relative who’s embarking on a new adventure.

When to give an iris flower

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Iris is the ideal flower to give if you're in a new relationship or building a new friendship
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Although the most commonly available irises are the purple ones, you can get this fascinating bloom in almost every colour of the rainbow and each one has its own special meaning.

Like most flowers that are purple, an iris in this colour represents royalty and nobility. However, a bloom in this colour also stands for wisdom, respect and admiration; perfect if someone special in your life has given you good advice and you want to say thank you.

Choose this bloom in blue and it stands for faith and hope, the ideal flower to send if you know someone waiting on results. If you know someone who has recently welcomed a new baby then go for the white iris, it symbolises purity. Send these with a bunch with some white daffodils which stand for new beginnings.

Pink and yellow irises are all about the big loves in your life. Pink stands for renewed faith in love and chivalry; ideal for a long-term partner, husband or wife to remind them just how special your relationship is. Go for this flower in yellow and it’s all about passion; the ideal bunch if you’re in a new relationship

IRIS FLOWER TYPES

Hooked into sending some irises? You certainly won’t struggle to find one that you’ll fall in love with. There are over 200 species available in almost every colour!

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Bearded Iris

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Beardedless Iris

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Crested Iris

Bearded Irises got their name for one very simple reason - each bloom has a group of soft hairs located at the back part of the lower petals. They look a little bit like caterpillars and they’re used to attract pollinating insects. You can get this iris in anything from almost black all the way through to white with lots of colours along the way. Just don’t expect to find one in red as it doesn’t exist!

The Beardless Iris, as its name suggests, doesn’t have the hairy bit on the petals. Instead, this bloom typically features three lower petals with a bright coloured centre at the base that attracts insects. The most common varieties are the Siberian, Japanese and Dutch Iris and it’s possible to get a wide choice of colour combinations including reddish-purple, light blue, dark blue, white and even violet.

Smaller than the beardless version, the Crested Iris has three lower petals which are usually violet in colour. Each petal features a distinctive white patch at its base with a yellow or orange crest.

All these irises grow from Rhizomes, which means the flowers come from a stem that grows undergrounds, but there are a number of iris flowers that grow from bulbs. The most dramatic ones in the iris family, they produce showy, fragrant flowers that are incredibly popular for bouquets. The most common ones are the Dutch, Spanish or English Iris (although this last one actually comes from Spain!! and you can get them in shades of blue, violet, white or yellow.

FACTS ABOUT IRISES

With a flower that has been around for centuries, this iconic bloom has quite the history.

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The iris certainly looks regal and with very good reason – it’s been connected with European royalty and power for as long as we can remember. The Fleur de Lys was used as the official emblem of the Kings of France since the Middle Ages. Although the name directly translates as Lily Flower the symbol was actually inspired by the yellow iris flower.

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Head across the border to Italy and the City of Florence has used the white iris as their symbol for centuries. Originally the emblem was a white iris on a red background and only changed when the Medici family came along and to demonstrate their power they reversed the colours.

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It seems like everyone wants to use this flower. It is the unofficial flower of Croatia; the black Iris is the national flower of Jordan and the Nazareth Iris is the symbol of the city of Upper Nazareth. In 1990’s other varieties of this bloom were named as the state wildflower of Michigan, Louisiana and Tennessee. It’s certainly a popular bloom!

Germany

This flower is not just a pretty face either. Over in Germany the rhizomes of some varieties of the iris are traded as orris root. These roots can be used in perfume, medicine, water purification and even gin. Essential oil from the flowers can also be used in aromatherapy treatments due to its relaxing properties. But be warned, rhizomes can be toxic causing sickness, skin irritation and diarrhoea – probably best left to the experts!

HOW TO CARE FOR IRIS

To get the most out of your irises there are a few little steps to keep them looking stunning.

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The first thing you need to do is remove any leaves that will sit in the water (otherwise they will turn the water murky which isn’t good for the flowers).

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Now, taking a sharp pair of scissors or secateurs, take about 3 or 4 cm from the bottom of the stems. Make sure you cut at an angle, it helps the blooms to drink up the water.

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Place the irises into an appropriately sized container, making sure the sides are high enough to support the stems. Try mixing in some red anemone and yellow gerbera for a beautiful spring themed bouquet.

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Keep the vase away from direct sunlight and heat – the irises will prefer not being too hot or cold and check the water – they can be very thirsty.

Feeling clued up on this popular spring flower? Send some irises today and add some sunshine to their home (or yours!)