In The Garden Now …. Don’t Pick the Flowers!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Gladwin Iris or Coral Iris
Photo by Victoria Gilleland

By Victoria Gilleland

We usually think of iris as perennials with showy spring flowers that grow beautifully in sunny gardens and then they’re done. But, here’s an iris that goes beyond flowers to a stunning fall berry display.

Gladwin Iris puts on a spectacular fall color display if flowers produced by this evergreen plant are left in place. Come fall each flower will produce a large pod filled with orange red seeds. Spring blooming mauve colored flowers are interesting in a subtle reserved way, but the intense orange berries are fabulous in late summer. So, resist cutting them for arrangements! With its evergreen foliage, mauve flowers, and orange red berries, this is a true year round garden performer!

Gladwin Iris or Coral Iris - leaning in
Photo by Victoria Gilleland

The seed heads are stunning in the garden or in flower arrangements. Berry clusters are quite heavy so they sometimes lean into other plants in the garden and in flower arrangements. Once cut, seed heads dry and hold their bright orange color for many months.

This iris will grow almost anywhere and is drought tolerant once established. I’ve been growing trouble free Gladwin Iris in dry shade for years. Plants have sword-like evergreen leaves that are typically 18 – 24 inches long. Over time attractive evergreen clumps form. If seed heads are allowed to dry on the plant you’ll probably find iris babies in your garden. They are easily plucked for sharing.

Surprise your family and friends with an autumn show of orange berries by growing Gladwin Iris. Most people won’t have a clue that those berries are being produced by an unassuming little iris plant.

Botanical Name: Iris foetidissima

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


Anonymous,  October 6, 2015 at 9:43 AM  

As pretty as the fall fruit is, this iris also can be invasive. Each orange seed may sprout a new (and very sturdy) plant. Once the pod pops open, I tend to cut the seedpod off and discard it. The opened pod is attractive in an indoor arrangement, but only for a few days. Then the lovely seeds fall out. However, the empty pod still has a decorative use.

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