Irises forum: Iris Changing Color - Not a myth

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Jun 27, 2019 2:39 AM CST
These iris' have been in the family for 100+ years. My family has never grown any other variety and my neighbors don't own any either. These were originally planted in the Texas Panhandle. When my great grand mother passed away, my grandmother transplanted them into her flowerbed, also in the panhandle. When my grandparents passed away my mom retrieved most of the bulbs and brought them to DFW. They did very well and bloomed their normal light purple for two years. Then in 2018 they bloomed purple, and later that same year they turned orange. This year there are no purple blooms, just orange.
Thumb of 2019-06-27/Maddy97/79c070
We haven't used chemicals around them. The ones in the pictures haven't been moved or cut back since we got them. I did move the ones in the front of the house to the other side before they started blooming. Only one stalk lasted and it's also orange. Those are not shown in the pictures.

Everything I've read about these changing colors has to do with different varieties taking over or cross pollination so I'm posting this to maybe get a few more suggestions or see if anyone else has this problem and knows how to fix it, because we really want the original color back.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
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Jun 27, 2019 2:55 AM CST

Plants Admin

Welcome! to the forums.

Can you post the photos individually, please? From what I can make out in the photos, the orange blooms aren't even Irises. I can see two different types of foliage as well in the photo from 2018 (the Iris foliage is at the back, without the bloom stalks).
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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Jun 27, 2019 3:20 AM CST
Looks to me like you have some Ditch Lilies that have taken over your iris bed, they will bloom later then iris bloom. They are very hard to get rid of, just a tiny bit of root will survive and re-establish quite rapidly, and can choke out the iris easily. The leaves on the lily will be thinner then the iris leaves. Irises have a rhizome that looks like this.

Day lilies roots look like this

Each orange bloom lasts only one day, the iris bloom will last a couple days.
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[Last edited by tveguy3 - Jun 27, 2019 3:26 AM (+)]
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Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Jun 27, 2019 5:31 AM CST
Yup, not only changed color, but changed species , as well ! Daylilies seem to be very "voracious feeders", too.....and seem to suck away nutrients that iris need for bloom. If I don't keep the two separated by at least two feet..three is iris won't flower Shrug! . And the way both species "multiply", it's pretty hard to keep them apart.
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
Jun 27, 2019 8:26 AM CST
Yes, the lavender ones were irises, but the later bloomin orange ones are definitely an entirely different species - daylilies.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams

Jul 7, 2019 11:43 PM CST
Thanks everyone for the help. I was afraid these were irises D'Oh! . I've heard they can sometimes revert back several generations which is why I mentioned them being in the family for so long. No one in my neighborhood has flowers other than roses and flowering trees like crape myrtles so I'm absolutely amazed that they ended up there. I'll be sure to keep the lilies away from the irises but I think we'll keep them
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
Jul 27, 2019 5:45 PM CST
The only way iris can "revert" is by your not deadheading the spent blooms, allowing seed to form and drop into the garden. The seedlings may then crowd out the parent plant. Hidden in the parent plant may be unexpressed recessive genes for lghter colors or white. If you get, for example, two white genes paired up in a seedling, you may get white flowers in that seedling, even though the parent plant was , say, purple (heterozygous purple with a recessive white gene.) Recessive genes are called recessive, because they can seem to skip generations. They need to be paired with another gene of the same sort in order to be expressed.

That's probably an over simplification, because iris genetics are so multifactorial, but it explains how surprises occur.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Jul 28, 2019 4:42 PM CST
Yep, daylilies. I've never grown the common (in some parts of the country) "ditch" lily, but I've read that they can be highly invasive and just about impossible to get rid of. (For that matter, my sister in KS has some which she has never been able to dig out.) Most "modern" daylily hybrids will die if you cut off the plant below the crown (where the roots meet the leaves), but that is not the case with ditch lilies and a few other older/similar daylilies which spread by underground roots.
Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom

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