Spring Flower Series: CAgrown Iris

Springtime on a California flower farm is something to behold, and with two farms located at each end of the state (Northern Arcata and Southern Oxnard), we get to experience this magical season two-fold. Today, our Spring Flower Series brings us to our fabulous Iris.  Yes, we grow this crop year-round, but springtime is when it really kicks into high gear.
Sun Valley Telstar Iris

California Iris

We grow a few crops at both our Oxnard and Arcata farms and Iris is a big one.  In warmer Oxnard, our iris is grown in open fields October through May, and in cool, coastal Arcata, we grow iris in hoop houses year-round.  This parallel production gives us a steady supply of fresh iris, especially during spring as the both farms take advantage of the perfect iris weather.

Arcata in Spring
Foggy Arcata
When summer brings its heat, it will be too hot for field iris in Oxnard, but our cool and foggy Arcata summers create the perfect environment, so come summer, we will be growing iris in both hoops and the field.  Frosty nights are few and far between, and there’s sufficient sun during the day without the oppressive heat that can cause plants to go dormant.

Hoop House Spring Iris

When our iris bulbs arrive from Holland, we store them in heated rooms (heat keeps the bulbs dormant).  Once we're ready to start planting, we wake the bulbs by cooling them, and then we plant them in fresh, fertile soil.
storing and planting iris bulbs
Iris bulbs from warm storage to fresh dirt.

If these are hoop house iris, the bulbs are planted in crates, but if they are planted in the field, the bulbs go straight into the ground!

Growing Hoop House Iris

Iris budWhen it comes to harvesting Iris, timing is everything.  The heads must be full, which means the tip of the iris will still be sheathed by green leaves, but contains color on the inside.  The sheath keeps the iris petals safe during transport, and this picking point is considered the "window pane"-- the iris is still closed, but ready to bloom within a few days.  It takes an experienced eye to notice the "window pane," and once it's noticed we have to move fast.  At this stage, iris develops quickly and green buds in the morning can turn to colorful heads in the afternoon, which is why our dedicated Iris team sometimes picks two times a day.  This hard work pays off, and is the backbone of our successful iris program, which is one of the largest in the country.

Lane examining field iris
We have been growing iris for decades, using time-tested traditions and modern technology to perfect our techniques in both the fields and hoop houses.  Our proprietary post-harvest care is something special too -- we are continually testing, innovating, and improving our post-harvest treatments, and that, when used in tandem with our cold-chain management, has created a consistent supply of high-quality, cut iris for the market, direct from our farms.

Stages of Iris bloom
Telstar Iris in Action

We grow a gorgeous variety of white, yellow, purple and sky-blue iris, but it's our Telstar Iris that really steals the show, and dominates our growing program. The Telstar is a favorite among florists, wholesalers, and floral fanatics alike, guaranteed to be in any Spring Floral Arrangement you may see during the season.  They're recognizable by their beautiful blue color, accented by flashes of yellow atop long, thin stems. It is the only blue Iris guaranteed to open every single time, with the strongest stems and longest vase life out of any other iris.

 Spring Iris Bouquet

Telstar or not, Iris are a harbinger of spring, known as the "dancing spirit of the fields." Give your sales rep a call and bring that dancing spring spirit into your world today!

Lady Aster Spring Flower Series Iris