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Why Do We Grow Reblooming Tall Bearded Irises?

Why Do We Grow Reblooming Tall Bearded Irises?

As many of our customers for the last almost 20 years know we started out as a grower of plants native to California and in fact about 70% of the space at our nursery still devoted to just that. However about 5 years ago one of our customers bought a ranch and wanted natural (as he calls it) landscaping but with something (a big something) that flowers in fall and winter when most of the natives are dormant.  After a little bit of internet searching  focused on something called “reblooming tall bearded irises”.  At this point I was a bit surprised that bearded irises were something other than the purple I had grown up with and my grandparents had too and that they come in all colors, color combinations, and many were fragrant. And most importantly, not only do they flower in spring but other seasons too, especially in Southern California.

 

Top picture taken in spring and the bottom in late fall.

 

Now, what about care and context? The little purple irises that I grew up with needed no care at all and no water other than rain – a perfect fit for the California natives. As far as context is concerned, bearded irises were used as landscape plants in some of the oldest houses and ranches in California. That’s because they needed so little water and care. They fit right in with both the water and time the early settlers had for gardening.  They were also what Easterner’s grew up with, so there was a familiarity with them.

 

Flowering in summer 

How has all this worked out?  Well, we did have a few failures initially, growing the irises in containers , but these were relatively minor.  For the most part our native plant customers were pretty accepting of us growing non-native irises. Many seem to like the idea of having big flowering plants in winter.  We currently grow about 170 named varieties of rebloomers and have opened a mail order site to sell the rhizomes www.bonniesirises.com.  This Thanksgiving, we’ll be using many cut flowers from our garden as they make excellent cut flowers. We have also begun hybridizing our own rebloomers, a true sign of mental illness!

 

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Featured Plant

champeleg

Identification

Botanical Name

Iris germanica TB 'Champagne Elegance' Re

Common Name

Champagne Elegance

Characteristics

Flower Color

Orange / White

Mature Size

2-1/2 tall × 2 wide

Climactic Requirements

Light

Full Sun / Filtered Sun

Water

Moderate
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