The best thing to do first is to find a live bloom of the plant you paid for and hold it up to the plant you have. This will tell you quickly if, in your area, this is the way the bloom looks. Different flowers will look a little different in other areas of the world – or they might have the imposter. Take your time and really look at what you have before you toss out the faker.
Only get iris from dealers you really know and can trust. Don’t go looking for the cheapest iris on the market. You will get what you pay for. When you are paying bargain basement prices, just hope the color is close to what you are wanting. If you want an iris for the name or patterns it holds, then you need to look at the better dealers out there. I know what you are saying. You tell me to buy three of each and now you want me to pay a higher price too? You must work for the iris grower! I know money is always tight for the gardener, but you will be happier with one rightly named group of three plants than a whole bank of wrongly named plants.
Box Store Iris
Speaking of getting what you pay for, box store iris roots deserve their own blurb here. The best you can hope for is those dry brown things that have been out of the ground for weeks, months, and if you go to some places years, will ever grow at all. If they do grow, you never know what you are going to get. On the whole the companies who package and ship these irises don’t care if you ever see a bloom. These are impulse buy iris and should be left to those whose gardens are less for the plant and more in the landscape side of things.
You get what you pay for when you find the newest iris on the market for way below the commanding price. These iris are grown from tissue culture, along with most box store iris. Simply put, some plants can be grown from tissue in a vial in some lab and they will always be true to name and color. Iris are not one of them. You might get a good clone and you might get something that would be better left in a horror flick – Revenge of the Iris.
Fixing the Error
Here is where the good places to buy from separate from the bad. The good growers on the market will always stand by their iris. When, not if, you get a mislabeled iris, they will send you out a replacement and many times tell you the name of the one you have with a photo of the bloom.
This is the bible for looking up iris growers, breeders, and sellers. If they are not listed here don’t buy from them. Read what people wrote. If it looks too good to be true, send them an e-mail and see what they think now. Look over how the company replies to those with issues. Do they snap back or do they say let us make it better? Take the time and not only find a good iris for your location but find a good seller to buy from to start with.
I want to thank Pajaritomt, Jackieshar, Avmoran, Irisloverdee, Happygarden, and Doss for answering my many research questions for this article. Thank you to mgh for the images for this article.