March gem: Iris unguicularis
Posted by editor on Sunday, 5 March 2017
Our lead picture was taken today but this lovely miniature iris has been in flower for about a month now. What a favourite this little gem is!
There are many types of Iris, rhizomatous or bulbous perennials, all with narrow leaves and erect stems bearing flowers – and wonderfully, you can have an iris in flower in late winter, spring or early summer.
Iris unguicularis, often called the Algerian winter iris, flowers in late winter. It is a vigorous evergreen rhizomatous perennial to 30cm in height, with copious dark green leaves and very fragrant, deep violet flowers 5-8cm in width, the falls marked with white and deep yellow at the base.
It has been given the Award of Garden Merit by the RHS, meaning it has done consistently well in growing trials – and is a real beauty to find flowering in these recent very cold days.
- Requires full sun and can cope with a south-facing, east-facing or west-facing situation but likes the shelter of a sunny wall
- Suggested planting locations include banks and slopes, city or courtyard gardens, coastal, cottage or informal gardens. It also grows well in flower borders and beds, making a delightful cut flower. Patio and container plants or wall-side borders
- Grow in well-drained or sharply drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil
- Propagate by division from midsummer to early autumn, plant immediately in flowering positions
- Comb out the old leaves with a hand fork to expose the flowers
- Cut back after flowering