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Iris hybrid (Aril and Arilbred)

Perennials, Flowers


A large and remarkably diverse group of 200 to 300 species, varying in flower color and form, cultural needs, and blooming periods (although the majority flower in spring or early summer). Leaves are swordlike or grasslike. Flowers (fragrant, in many kinds) are showy and complex in structure.

Iris hybrid (Aril and Arilbred)

The aril species and interspecies hybrids (characterized by an aril, or collar, on their seeds) offer strange and often remarkably beautiful flowers on unattractive plants. Exacting cultural requirements. Most species come from semidesert areas of the Near East and central Asia; they need limy soil, perfect drainage, full sun, and no summer water (and thus do best in areas with scant or no summer rain). There are two main groups: Oncocyclus and Regelia. The Oncocyclus group includes a number of species with huge, nearly globular flowers in lavender, gray, silver, maroon, and gold, often intricately veined and stippled with deeper hues. Regelia group has smaller, narrower-petaled flowers, veined or unmarked; they come in brighter shades than Oncocyclus, often with a lustrous sheen. Oncocyclus is more difficult to grow; somewhat easier are Regelia group and hybrids between the two (Oncogelia).

Arilbreds—hybrids between the arils and bearded irises—offer some of the arils’ exotic beauty on plants nearly as easy to grow as tall beardeds, given well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil. Amount of aril ancestrycan determine ease of culture:hybrids containing half arilancestry or more usually aremore demanding than those ofone-quarter or three-eighths aril ancestry. Specialists’ catalogs sometimes state hybrid ancestries for this reason.

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