Irises in October?

October 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm Leave a comment

006Bearded Iris (Iris germanica), native to central and southern Europe, have been growing in gardens for centuries, and they are among the most popular and recognizable flowers of spring. But did you know that some irises bloom in the fall too? Since 1884, there have been starts and stops in introducing Iris species with a fall re-blooming tendency. Over the years, Iris have been crossed with one another to capture flower form, longevity of bloom, stem height, bud count and color variations. As a result, breeders realized that those with a remontant tendency (blooming more than once in a season) have genetic connections with Iris cengialtii and Iris aphylla in their ancestry as well as a few other species. A local Iris breeder, Mike Lockatell has teamed with Tom Silvers, a diploid Iris breeding specialist from Maryland, to research the re-blooming tendency which, once identified, will help guide future Iris breeders. Lockatell has established Iris test beds in Maymont’s flowering border at the Carriage House, at a private garden in Midlothian, and at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Goochland. All involved are discovering the beauty of bearded iris in the fall and reporting their successes and failures. For Iris lovers, this means you can now enjoy some of your favorite flowers in the spring and then again in the fall!

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