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A "Rainbow" of Irises - and More!

Making It Grow! Minute logo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The Greek Goddess Iris was represented by the rainbow which makes her name perfect for the iris flower which comes in a myriad of colors. Across the world there are two hundred eighty species of irises in North America we have twenty eight native irises. Many of them occur naturally or will grow perfectly happily here in South Carolina. The US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has a great fact sheet –Our Native Irises -- that explains why these plants are so vigorous – their blade-like leaves are held upright and both surfaces intercept sunlight for photosynthesis – making the carbohydrates to produce those showy, large flowers that attract bumblebees and certain nectar drinking birds which serve as pollinators. The plants are easily propagated by dividing their rhizomatous roots every few years – they bloom better when periodically thinned.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.