Mystery Irises

I mentioned before that I have two beds of irises; a dwarf iris on the walkway and a bed of a different kind of iris on the border between our unit and the next one. They have both been planted and have grown for many years undisturbed. I have enjoyed them both, though they only bloom for a short time. However, the time has come that I need to divide them. It was at this point that I came up against the basic problem; what, exactly, do I have?

Dwarf iris
I had seen dwarf iris in bloom when hiking at DeSoto Falls Campground in north Georgia, and at the Walasi-yi Center up on Blood Mountain…


It’s called DeSoto Falls because, according to local legend, a piece of metal armor was found near there and the speculation was that Hernando DeSoto and his party had passed through the area. The armor was later lost, so they cannot confirm or deny the story.

The Walasi-yi center is a stone building on US 19 at Neels Gap. The Appalachian Trail actually crosses a covered walkway of the building. I understand that  walkway is the only place on the 2000+ miles of the Trail that is under shelter.

Dwarf iris…when I came across pots of dwarf iris at a nursery, I just had to have them. I planted them along the edge of our walkway and tried to keep them watered. It was not easy during the past three years when our area was under drought conditions. I guess my persistence has paid off since the patch has grown until it nearly blocks the walkway.

I need to trim it back, to divide patch down the middle and move half so the walkway remains passable. The problem was, I wasn’t sure when they should be divided. The problem was made worse because I didn’t really know what variety of iris they were considered to be. Fortunately, a little Internet searching on “dwarf iris” turned up a description of the two most common types of dwarf iris. I believe what I have is iris cristata – crested iris. With that information in hand, I could then search for growing guidelines.

What I’ve found is a little conflicting. One source says to divide them once they finish blooming. I like that advice, since they are beginning to bloom now and will be finished within a week or so. However, the other source says to divide them in mid-October, a long while from now.

IMG_0422My other iris is a tall, grass-like plant. They had been given to my wife by a friend of hers.  All I knew about them was that they weren’t bearded iris. My first task was to find what other kinds of irises there were…

I think what I have are Siberian Irises.

If anybody out there has a better identification, please let me know.


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