Blog May 5, 2023

Come and See Us Multiply: The Iris

Come and See Us Multiply: The Iris

Let me star by say that Iris flowers were one of my Mother’s favorite flowers.  She had a whole array of these flowers in the yard when I was growing up.  My Aunt Dap who lived next door did too, I think secretly they were having a contest who could have the most colors and flowers. 

Iris flowers are a popular perennial plant with showy blooms in a range of colors, including blue, purple, white, yellow, and orange. These flowers have six petals, three of which form the upright «standards» while the other three hang down and are known as the «falls». Irises prefer well-drained soil and full sun, although some varieties can tolerate partial shade. They can be propagated through dividing the rhizomes in the fall, and they typically bloom in the late spring or early summer. The iris has a rich symbolic history, and it is often associated with royalty and the Greek goddess Iris, who was the messenger of the gods – Of course the idols of the Greeks is complete nonsense.

The iris is known for its beauty and unique blooms, which are unlike any other flower. As with many flowers, the iris has a number of meanings, and they are often given as gifts. We have created this article to teach you about the beautiful iris.

There are more than 200 different varieties of iris, and they come in an array of colors. In fact, the name, ‘iris,’ comes from the Greek word that means ‘rainbow.’ These flowers are found almost everywhere in the world, both naturally and on flower farms. You can also, of course, find them in gardens across the globe. The irises found in gardens are generally white, yellow, or blue, which is the most popular type. 

Where does the iris come from? Its history is interesting, and we can trace it back to the times of the Ancient Greeks. The Greeks had a goddess, Iris, who was seen as the messenger of the gods. She was also the personification of the rainbow, and the people believed that she was the link between earth and heaven. Because of this, the Greeks placed purple irises on the graves of women who had died in order to summon Iris, the goddess, to help the dead reach heaven.

The Greeks were not the only ones who loved the iris flower, though. We know that the Ancient Egyptians also liked irises, thanks to the exotic look. There have been a number of paintings of irises found in Egyptian buildings. 

You might understand that the iris is also associated with France, specifically with the French monarchy. This pairing occurred during the Middle Ages. The famed Fleur-de-lis eventually became the national symbol of France. 

Historically, the iris has been used to create aromatic perfume. It has also been historically used by herbalists as a natural remedy for conditions such as coughs and lung conditions. Today, the iris is often seen in home gardens, bouquets, and of course, can be found naturally in the wild.

Since the iris has so many meanings, it makes this flower a wonderful choice for any occasion. You can use irises for sympathy or get well soon arrangements and corporate events and birthdays. They are also perfect for those ‘just because’ moments to brighten someone’s day. 

Today, the state of Tennessee is proud to have the iris as its state flower. Additionally, the city of New Orleans, Louisiana boasts the Fleur-de-lis as the emblem of the city.

As you can see, the iris has an exceptional history, and there are also specific meanings associated with the flower. These include hope, wisdom, and faith. When we consider other factors, such as region and color, the iris might have other meanings. For example, in some places, the purple or dark purple iris is symbolic of royalty. A yellow iris can mean courage, passion, and admiration.

The Meanings of Irises

Just like your favorite shoes, irises come in many colors, each just as beautiful as the next. The ancient Greeks saw the rainbow as the robes of the goddess Iris, with some believing the multi-colored flowers were part of her robe. Others saw it as the veil from her dress. 

The rainbow flower is widely considered the symbol of communication and messages, due to the goddess, Iris, being the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love.

The traditional purple iris represents wisdom, courage, respect, and admiration. Not surprisingly, then, it has also come to symbolize royalty, a common association with the color purple. 

The beautiful blue iris symbolizes faith, hope, trust and pixie dust. Oh no, wait… that last one is something else. But who would argue that its dazzling magic fits here?

Is it passion you’re looking for? Look no further than a yellow iris. Delicate and tall, the yellow iris could make anyone catch all the feels at a glance.

As with many white flowers, the white iris symbolizes purity and innocence. It is often found in mixed bridal bouquets, due to their smaller size and striking appearance. Small in size, yes, but never to be underestimated in terms of its effect. 

So knowing the meanings of the individual colors also helps when putting a bouquet together. With this knowledge, you can mix and match meanings into a cohesive whole, combining purity with respect, hope, and passion, or whatever other heady combination speaks best for you — or perhaps your union with a partner.

Let’s face it, you have many moods and meanings — so express yourself!

February Birth Flower

Iris are synonymous with affection and devotion making them the perfect alternative to roses for Valentine’s or a stunning February birthday gift.

Ancient Egyptian kings were enthralled by the iris and its exotic appeal. Drawings of the flower have been found in many Egyptian palaces, helping make its celebrated connection to royalty extremely powerful. A flower on the Sphinx is thought by many to be an iris; while another appears on a bas-relief from the 18th Egyptian dynasty. 

The iris is the birth-month flower for February, appropriately matching the beautiful purple amethyst stone also associated with the month.

Irises have been used for various purposes throughout history: French peasants planted irises on the edges of their thatched roofs to prevent erosion; irises were prescribed by Apothecaries as a remedy to digestive problems; and the root was blended into cough syrups and antitussive teas. Ancient cultures utilized iris oils in their perfumes, furthering the stature of this regal plant.

Examples of iris based perfumes today include: Iris Nobile Acqua di Parma; Iris Ganache Guerlain; and Iris Silver Mist Serge Lutens. Possibly next only to the rose, the iris flower is a favorite subject of great art, appearing in masterpieces by painters such as: Leonardo da Vinci, Cezanne, Renoir, Claude Monet, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.

4 Fun Facts About Irises That Will Make You Love Them Even More

Beard or no beard, there’s a lot to love about irises. But even the most dedicated iris-lovers might not know all the fascinating facts about this bulb.

Who would have thought that a flower with a beard could be considered a beautiful addition to the garden? You won’t find a flower with more variety and color than irises. Irises are often considered spring bulbs, but some of the thousands of iris varieties bloom in summer and fall, too.

One distinctive feature of irises is their lance-shaped, spiky foliage—the blooms are often confused with lilies, but the foliage is a tell-tale sign of which plant you’re looking at. Irises are perennials that easily self-multiply and can be divided, meaning you can plant more irises in your garden for free each year.

1. Irises Have Been Important Flowers Since the Ancient Greeks

A lot of the iris’s long history traces back to the Greeks. Its name comes from the Greek word for rainbow and messenger. It’s believed that these flowers were named because their blooms come in so many colors of the rainbow. In Greek mythology, the goddess Iris delivered messages to the gods, traveling on rainbows to get from heaven to earth and back. Ancient Greeks would plant irises on the graves of their loved ones in hopes that the goddess Iris would help connect their souls to heaven.

The earliest art that depicts an iris is a fresco in King Minos’ palace on the Greek island of Crete. That palace dates back to 2100 BC.

2. Irises Can Be Bearded Or Beardless

The colorful blooms can be bearded or unbearded and come in solid colors or patterns with dramatic veining. All irises have upright petals and fall petals that hang down below. You can tell a bearded iris from a beardless iris by looking at the center of the fall petals—bearded irises have a fuzzy patch, which is why they are called ‘bearded.’ Beardless irises may have a patch of color in the same place on the fall petals, but with no fuzzy texture.

3. Parts of the Iris Have Been Used Medicinally

Irises have more of a purpose than just something pretty to look at. Historically, parts of iris plants have been used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Besides being a common fragrance added to perfumes, the juice from fresh iris roots was used to remove freckles. The root was blended to create cough syrups and topical treatments for skin conditions like eczema and acne. The seeds were prescribed for digestive problems. With the rise of aromatherapy, the oil from irises is said to help with congestion and boosting mood.

4. Each Color of Iris Means Something Different

The iris species symbolizes eloquence, which stems from the goddess Iris being a messenger. But within the species, each color also carries its own meaning—keep this symbolism in mind the next time you send someone irises. For example, purple irises represent admiration and wisdom, while blue is a symbol of faith and hope. Yellow irises are said to symbolize passion, and white represents purity.

This bulb has been a part of so many cultures and histories and continues to be a favorite in the garden today. With so many varieties in hundreds of color combinations, you could have a garden full of irises that would be anything but boring. Do your research and find the perfect iris to complete your flower bed.

Are you ready to start growing Iris now? I grow them and just love them like my Mother and Aunt Dap!