February 27, 2012

Thirty years. Whew! That’s saying a lot considering the planning, care and know-how required to cultivate Iris. For starters, we have to be strategic about when we plant the different varieties of this beautiful flower as some are early bloomers, some very early, and some are definitely late bloomers. Other variables such as heat, sunlight and soil temperature factor into the equation-what’s right for one Iris can be plain ol’ wrong for another.


Iris ‘Hildegarde’

In general, Iris thrive in relatively cool temperatures. We take advantage of this by planting some of our Iris in September in Carlsbad, where the soil temps are cooler than those found inland at our farm in San Luis Rey. Carlsbad’s location, with its coastal soil and relatively wet air, is beneficial to the Iris’s early root growth. When we recently incorporated the bicolor variety Apollo-which is commonly a late season crop- we planted it early, in Carlsbad, so we’ll be able to pick this one early, too, to get a jump on the season.


Iris Picked Closed for Shipping

Can you guess where the Iris got its name? As both its common and scientific name, the word Iris derives from the Greek word for rainbow, and is so named because of the variety of colors found among the many species of the flower. There’s the white variety, known as the Casablanca. The yellow is the Golden Beauty. Hildegarde is a light blue Iris- rare enough that we occasionally have trouble finding bulbs and must resort to a similar variety called Sky Wings. And then there’s the main purple varieties Purple Diamond, Hong Kong and Rendezvous. But of course you’ll also find an abundance of the dark blue varieties including the popular Telstar and Discovery.

Customers seem to like the Telstar best. But it’s Discovery whose thick, long stems allow it to stand tall and vigorous in the springtime heat. We plant Telstar along with Blue Diamond for early production. Blue Diamonds typically show first, the Telstars fill in after that, and finally come the late bloomers, the Discoveries. Of course, a spike in temperature will spike the Telstar bloom and throw the entire production schedule off! Nothing we can’t handle, of course. Just another day’s work during Iris season at Mellano & Company!