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Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Bulbs

May's Flower: Bearded Iris (page 4 of 4)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Top Choices of Bearded Iris

Given the thousands of named varieties of iris, choosing can be difficult. Start with varieties that have won the Dykes Memorial Medal, awarded by the American Iris Society only after rigorous standards are met. Another reliable source of variety recommendations is the annual popularity poll taken by the AIS in which all members of the society vote (

Nursery insiders tell us that pink is popular this year. But blacks, dark purples, and blues are always popular, perhaps for some practical as well as aesthetic reasons: They tend to be more cold-hardy, vigorous, and disease resistant. Lighter-colored flowers -- peaches, pinks, oranges, and yellows -- aren't as tough.

Here are some of the most popular bearded iris, as determined by members of the AIS. They all bloom at midseason unless otherwise noted; those that rebloom are also noted. Asterisks at the end of the description indicate Dykes Medal winners.

Tall (usually 35 to 40 inches)

  • 'Before the Storm', black, fragrant
  • 'Best Bet', wisteria blue with darker falls, rebloomer
  • 'Beverly Sills', coral pink
  • 'Champagne Elegance', champagne standards, pink falls, rebloomer
  • 'Dusky Challenger', dark purple, late bloom
  • 'Edith Wolford', bicolor purple with yellow
  • 'Going My Way', purple
  • 'Harvest of Memories', yellow and white, fragrant, rebloomer
  • 'Honky Tonk Blues', blue with white
  • 'Hot Fudge', burgundy and yellow
  • 'Jesse's Song', white, violet edges on falls
  • 'Joyce Terry', yellow with white falls
  • 'Laced Cotton', white, late bloom
  • 'Lady Friend', pink with peach and rose
  • 'Mary Frances', blue*
  • 'Shipshape', medium blue
  • 'Silverado', medium blue*
  • 'Stepping Out', white with violet edges
  • 'Superstition', black
  • 'Sweet Musette', light purple
  • 'Supreme Sultan', gold, garnet falls
  • 'Thornbird', tan*
  • 'Titan's Glory', dark violet*
  • 'Vanity', soft pink, early*
  • 'Victoria Falls', sea blue*

Intermediate (usually 18 to 24 inches)

  • 'Brown Lasso', yellow-gold
  • 'Pink Bubbles', pink

Dwarf (usually 6 to 12 inches)

  • 'Baby Blessed', lime yellow
  • 'Banbury Ruffles', purple
  • 'Carrot Curls', orange
  • 'Cherry Garden', red-purple
  • 'Navy Doll', yellow and purple
  • 'Rain Dance', clear blue
  • 'Snow Maiden', white
  • 'Watercolor', light yellow

Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association

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