Purple iris

The purple iris, Iris versicolo, aside from being one of the most beautiful plants out there, has one of the most interesting common names: the Harlequin Blueflag.

Mythological origin

In Greek mythology, Iris was a goddess, believed to act as a messenger between Heaven and Earth, personified as a rainbow. Purple irises were planted on graves, mostly graves of women, to help guide them towards heaven. But Greeks weren’t the only ones fascinated by this magnificent flower. Iris flowers come in a variety of colours, which is most likely why the flower became the symbol of the goddess.

Egyptian kings marveled at the beauty of purple irises, with drawings being found in many palaces. During the Middle Ages, the symbolistic of this flower became even more powerful. It mainly became linked with the French aristocracy, the dominant power in Europe at the time – the Fleur-de-lis eventually became the recognized national symbol of France, which it remained for many years.

Purple iris meaning

Through all its intricate history, the purple iris symbolizes faith, wisdom, and hope. Especially in France, it also symbolizes royalty and majesty.

From the Middle Ages, irises were used to create perfumes and all sorts of medicinal remedies; some suspect they were used even in the old Egyptian days.

In the early 17th century, the historic book “Partheneia Sacra”, written by English Jesuit priest Henry Hawkins was considered to be an important landmark, addressed to a strict devotional society, the Parthenian Sodality of the Immaculate Conception. In this book, he described the purple iris as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.

In some parts of Asia as well, dark blue or purple iris can be a symbol of royalty or even passion, while in the Americas, these purple flowers are given as a “gel well soon” sign. Also, in more modern times, it is common to give them out at your 25 year wedding anniversary. However, in most areas of the world, it is a symbol of hope and faith.

Caring for purple irises

Caring and growing purple irises in your garden is the bomb – it will bring a burst of colour and beauty! There’s some 200-300 species of iris in the world, with different characteristics.

However, there are some characteristics common to all species. Irises love the Sun. Plant them in the early fall, and avoid soggy soils which can cause them to rot. Place plants at least 30 cm apart for best results, if you want to apply fertilizers (which isn’t really all that necessary), avoid directly on the clumps as this can burn and injure the rhizomes. Also, avoid using mulches.

There aren’t really many pests issues, but if you see such a problem, be sure to take care of it promptly, because it can really scale out of control.

You can also successfully grow irises in pots, inside your apartment. Again, the key is sunlight – give them as much sun as possible and water only when the top two inches of soil are dry.

For other beautiful purple flowers, check out purple roses

Purple roses

If you look up ‘rose’ in a botanical atlas, you’ll see that it is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae; but this tells you nothing about the beauty of the flower, about its delightful look, smell, about its supremacy in the kingdom of flowers. Roses come in one shape, but many colours: they range from white or pale yellow to blood red, black and, of course… purple!

The meaning of a purple rose

Purple roses stand for enchantment, royalty, and respect – nothing can conjure an aura of love and mystery like them. Give a woman a red rose to signal your passionate, burning love for her, but let a purple rose speak a different, more deeper story, a story about a meaningful, true, respectful love. This is why, in modern days, it’s become a favorite for Valentine’s day and anniversaries; it’s the perfect way of telling a woman she is the queen of your heart. Few people actually know that this is the flower of choice when you want to say you’ve fallen in love at first sight – and sometimes a subtle gesture can go a long way. Especially a bouquet of purple and white roses express a deep, but pure love.

Another meaning is royalty. If you are somehow invited to a royal event, you would never give a queen a red or yellow rose! You should never give one to any high class woman for that matter – except if you’re courting her. Purple is definitely the colour you want to go for. A purple rose is opulence, glory, it is majesty at its finest, fitting only for those of total elegance and grandeur.

Last but perhaps not least, it is a symbol of discretion. In more troubled times, priests would wear a purple flower to signify their belonging to a certain group, in case they didn’t want anyone else to know this. The meaning propagated, symbolizing today a secret relationship, most often a secret love. If you care for someone but don’t want people knowing it, this is the most elegant way to express your feelings.

Purple rose history

There is actually no true purple rose: the actual colours are lilac, purple-blue, plum and lavender. However, this colour didn’t appear all by itself: man had to give Mother Nature a piece of help, because men wanted to express a certain, special emotion, and wanted to transmit it with the help of a single flower.

It’s still unclear when the quest for purple roses began, but it most likely started more than two centuries ago; people started mixing different genetic types of flowers, and this wonderful colour was obtained. As time passed, they started to differentiate from other types of roses even more.

Caring for a purple rose

If you want to go the extra mile and turn your garden into a fantastic kingdom of beauty, or if you simply want to add an extra majestic something, you should know that caring for purple roses is not really different than caring for other roses.

Not many parts of the world have enough rainfall for the plants, so you should be sure to when them when the soil gets dried up – typically, a few times a week, preferably in the morning. Roses require fertilizing once a year, but they enjoy an additional treat too.

Pests are not usually a problem for this kind of flowers, but if you do get something, then there’s something seriously wrong, and that really depends on your local fauna – ask your local florist and he’ll tell you what to do. The only real problem when caring for roses is wintertime. Many rosarians have developed favorite methods, mostly depending on their area, which can have lighter of heavier winters. If there’s a big freeze going down, as painful as it could be, you should cut down the roses to about 60 centimeters (24 inches), to be prevent them from becoming battered by wind and ice. If storms are also an issue, you should also tie the canes together with twine to protect from winds. If you want to make sure everything is fine, form a mound of fresh, loose soil or compost around each plant.

So, I hope I’ve sparked your interest for these remarkable flowers; purple flowers aren’t your average flower, and they’re not suitable for everybody, but if you’re among the special few, pick a flower that’s among the special few.

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