Growing The Vesper Iris: The Blooming Iris That Tells Time

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Here’s an iris that tells time! At three o’clock every day from late July to frost, the 2″ inch flowers open into colorful gems of blue, lavender, or wine color, some enhanced by orange, mahogany, or tyrian markings on the attractive falls.

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Bigger And Better

By careful crossing and selection, the height of the vesper iris (Iris dichotoma) has been increased from the 2’ feet it attained several decades ago to 3’ or even 4’ feet, and stems are so wiry that they need no staking. In addition, the number of blossoms per plant has been doubled. 

This means that a single well-grown clump now displays 100 or more flowers every day for a month or more, and the new brighter colors that have been added are still being improved each year.

The candelabrum-like branching of vesper iris spaces each open flower in a clump so advantageously that it is usually challenging to find one blossom touching another. The flowers look like gorgeous butterflies at rest with outstretched wings from a short distance.

Flower beauty is never marred by wilted blossoms. Each opened bloom curls into a graceful little spiral during the night and usually drops to the ground before sunrise, only to be replaced by another crisp flower the following afternoon.

Easy Grower

What’s more, the vesper iris is easy to grow! It thrives in partial sun or in the open in a great variety of soils, preferring rich, heavy loam. However, it also tolerates stony or sandy ground. As for hardiness, it survives winters without protection, even when the temperature drops to 15° degrees Fahrenheit below zero. 

However, this is true only of plants set out before the blooming season, as fall plantings do not become sufficiently established to withstand the rigors of winter.

Of course, vesper iris multiply more rapidly and produce more blossoms when planted in fertile soil and given sufficient moisture if under adverse conditions. The plants will not die even after a 60-day drought, but they do stop growing. With the first rain, they again shoot up and bloom.

A Fast Grower

Unlike other irises, which must be planted in late summer or fall for spring bloom, the vesper iris is ideal for the impatient gardener. Soon after it is set out in spring, the blossoms start to appear. And it is very rare indeed when a plant fails to do so.

Even when grown from seed in early spring, a few blossoms may be produced the first year, and you are sure to get many more by the second summer.

Vesper iris does not produce a rhizome but develops a small bundle of fibrous roots with two or three eyes, somewhat in the manner of peonies.

Growth is slow at first, but the fan of leaves, which grow flat as if compressed between the pages of a book, soon attain the size of the foliage of bearded irises. After the blooming season, the flower stalk breaks off close to the ground.

Related: Tips On How Tp Grow Fine Iris

The Pollinators’ Paradise

The jewel-like flowers of vesper iris will attract more hummingbirds and bees than any other flower in your garden. 

The buzzing bees found in an extensive planting can be heard almost a block away, yet you may walk through the planting without the slightest danger of being stung because the bees are so intent on gathering the nectar.

Few gardeners know this delicately beautiful flower. If you want something different for your garden, you’ll find this a leading candidate. Even if you’ve never planted a garden before, you’ll have success with this easy-to-grow iris.