Petite iris blooms, salutes spring

After being away from the country for about two-and-a-half weeks, when the severe wintery weather we had was still the talk of the town, I couldn’t have been more pleased to find spring-like weather to welcome us back and our almost-forgotten patch of Iris reticulata in full bloom. Although they were planted over a decade ago, the reason the late-winter bloomer catches me off guard every year is because of the diminutive size and vibrant color of the flowers.

While not as spectacular as the bearded irises, their spring-blooming cousins, the charm of Iris reticulata lies in the fact that the flowers appear in late winter, along with those of plants such as Lenten roses and crocuses, just when we are longing to see color in the garden. In our backyard, these petite irises, growing between gray pieces of slate that are lying next to blooming clumps of Lenten roses, always give me a reason to believe that spring will be here soon.

To grow miniature irises, select a location that gets plenty of sunshine and has good drainage, as well; unlike bearded irises, which are grown from rhizomes, Iris reticulata is grown from bulbs that are planted in fall. They do best when grouped in clusters. These pint-sized beauties are available in lovely hues of purple and blue, as well as white, and, because of their size, are perfect for small spaces, rock gardens or even containers.

Irises, in general, are eye-catching plants and look very elegant as cut flowers; hence, they are a favorite of those who like to make arrangements. Also, contrary to the popular notion, the miniature ones prove that bigger is not necessarily better; small can indeed be beautiful.

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