No summer border would be complete without at least a few irises. Although one or two are primarily grown for their foliage, it is the flowers for which most are grown. These consist of three petals that hang down (falls) and three that generally stand up (standards), although in some they flop down.
There are two basic types of iris the bulbous ones and the rhizomatous ones. For most gardeners the bulbous ones consist of the small ones that flower in the late winter and the taller English, Dutch and Spanish irises that flower in the summer.
The more common form are the rhizomatous ones with the thick, fleshy root (or rhizome) that grows on the surface of the soil. These are the bearded irises and there are hundreds of different varieties of these, all with subtle colour variations. It is important that this root is not covered either by soil or other plants as it needs the sun to bake it.
The other type of Rhizomatous iris are the beardless, which includes those that grow in or near water, the beautiful Laevigata irises, and those that prefer a well-drained soil such as the Pacific irises. Generally irises are disease free and easy to grow.