Stepping into spring - Preparing your irises for spring

By Margie Habraken
on August 26, 2018

Stepping into spring - Preparing your irises for spring

We are all undoubtably looking forward to our irises blooming, so with the warmer weather not too far away, we thought it might be a good time to offer some suggestions to maximise your spring flowering.
During this unseasonably drier weather many of us are experiencing, its important to keep the water up to your irises.  Be careful not to overwater as the rhizome will rot if it stays too wet.  It might be a good time to add a light mulch to your irises.  This will not only lessen evaporation, but will assist in weed control as the weather warms.  
Our irises are looking quite scraggy at the moment.  Gently pulling off the dead leaves and carefully trimming spent flowers will enhance their appearance, ready to show off their blooms in the coming months.  The old leaves can even be used to create other works of art if you're that way inclined!
It's good time to fertilise your irises now to get the best spring show.  We recommend using a fertiliser which is lower in nitrogen to make the most of the blooms.  Yates suggest one called Thrive Natural Roses and Flowers.  They advertise it as a special combination of organic ingredients boosted with fast-acting fertilisers, designed to enhance the growth and development of flowers. 
Follow the instructions on the pack and don't forget to water well after applying to get the maximum uptake.
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Expansion at Sunshine Iris Nursery

By Margie Habraken
on July 01, 2018

Expansion at Sunshine Iris Nursery

We’ve recently ordered some new varieties of irises and needed to make some more beds.  We thought you may be interested in how we go about this if you haven’t had the chance to come and visit us yet. 

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A lifelong passion for irises

By Margie Habraken
on May 24, 2018

A lifelong passion for irises

On a cold, wet day in May, I recently had the pleasure of visiting one of our special iris breeders of Australia.

Margaret Summerill lives in Bombala in southern NSW.  She has been breeding irises for over 30 years, after her first iris was given to her in 1983.  Margaret was inspired to try her hand at breeding after reading an article by renowned breeder, Barry Blyth.  In 1986 she tried to pollinate her first flower ‘just for fun’ and made contact with Graeme Grosvener for some extra advice.

It wasn’t until 10 years after that first introduction to irises  that Margaret had one she thought was spectacular enough to register.  Proudly Mine was listed in 1993, and was followed by over 25 different flowers. Margaret says she finds it hard to pick favourites but some of her best include Fanciful Thoughts, Boys in Blue, and the more recent Spirit of Bombala.

I asked Margaret how she chose the names for her irises – something that has always intrigued me.  She related that she is inspired by places, events or people.  One iris , Mother’s Bessie, reminded her of the colour of her mother’s cow!  She also added that she had used the dictionary at times – Wily Glow meaning inquisitive or artful.

As Margaret became more adept at breeding, collecting many accolades for her irises along the way, she decided to learn more about showing the flowers.  After attending a judges’ school six times, she became an accredited Trial Garden and Show Bench Judge further increasing her already extensive knowledge of irises.

When asked for her best tips for growing strong irises, Margaret confided that she liked to use a good fertiliser such as Osmocote when she first plants out her irises and then again in August before the bloom period.

At Sunshine Iris Nursery we are proud to offer some of Margaret’s irises.  Pictured alongside is Ruby Rover, one she bred in 2012 which is available for purchase now.  We will also have Spirit of Bombala, Mother’s Bessie, Inglewood, Moselle Moon, Fanciful Charm, Fanciful Thoughts, Wily Glow, Rowes, Winsome Annie and Windana available next year. 

Check out some of our other blogs:

Vintage or Historic Irises

Different Types of Irises

Keeping Your Irises Happy Over Summer

Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving

By Margie Habraken
on April 19, 2018

Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving

With Mother’s Day coming up soon, have you considered giving an iris or daylily as a gift?  There are lots of different ways a plant can express your appreciation  – be it your mother, your spouse, a special occasion or just a good friend.

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Vintage or historic irises

By Margie Habraken
on April 05, 2018

Vintage or historic irises

At Sunshine Iris Nursery we recognise vintage or historic irises as those that were bred 30 or more  years ago.  But why would you choose a vintage iris over a modern one?   As a whole they perform better in areas of vigour, disease resistance, heat and cold tolerance and durability.

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Different types of iris

By Margie Habraken
on March 06, 2018

Different types of iris

At Sunshine Iris Nursery we sell bearded iris but there is sometimes confusion about other types of irises grown.

  Iris types

Here is a diagram of different types of irises from the Iris Society of Australia.  As is shown on the diagram, irises come as two different types – those that grow as bulbs and those that have a rhizome. 

Bulbs are usually more rounded and have layers like an onion.  They are usually dormant for part of the year and may lose their leaves. The most common bulb iris is the Dutch iris.

 Rhizomes grow horizontally under the ground and reproduce by sending out new nodes after the plant has flowered.  They can be beardless, bearded or crested.

 Beardless irises attract bees by displaying a bright colour at the top of the falls, often called a signal. Varieties of beardless irises include Louisiana, Spuria, Siberian, Japanese, and Pacific Coast irises.  

Bearded irises have a fuzzy caterpillar like shoot at the top of the falls which can come in many colours and entices bees into the flower.  Bearded irises are sold as Tall - usually over 70 cm tall, flowering from early September to late November;  Median - usually between 40 and 70 cm tall, flowering from mid September to late November or  Dwarf - usually below 40cm tall, flowering from early September to mid October.  Bearded irises can also be an Aril variety.

Crested irises are a much smaller group and they have a small raised area called a crest instead of a signal or beard.

Keeping your irises happy over the summer

By Elissa Strong
on January 22, 2018

Keeping your irises happy over the summer

Summer seems to be really heating up over these last few weeks, with more to follow for us here at Sunshine Iris Nursery.  To ensure our irises are not too stressed over these hot days, and to maintain our high standards, we follow a few simple processes that may help your irises in the garden also.

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Why grow median and dwarf irises?

By Margie Habraken
on December 11, 2017

Why grow median and dwarf irises?

Medians are less prone to wind damage and are easier to display in vases. They will provide a spring feature amongst shrubs and mixed perennial gardens.

Dwarf irises are excellent edge plants and require little maintenance. They are very resilient, handle dry summers well and are easy to move around the garden when clumps increase in size.

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Life cycle of an iris plant – or why we don’t pick during flowering!

By Margie Habraken
on November 14, 2017

Life cycle of an iris plant – or why we don’t pick during flowering!

Like all plants, irises grow and change throughout their life cycle.  In an attempt to explain an iris life cycle, I will hopefully shed some light on why you have not received your irises yet if you have recently ordered form us.

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Iris as cut flowers

By Margie Habraken
on October 17, 2017

Iris as cut flowers

Whilst we love the look of our iris in the garden, they make spectacular cut flowers in a vase inside and keep for up to 2 weeks.  Here a few handy tips to ensure you get the most out of your indoor iris displays.

  • Keep an eye on iris flowers in your garden, and pick them just as the top flower is starting to unfurl. It’s best to cut them using sharp secateurs or a knife in the early morning or evening,
  • Some people advise recutting your iris at an angle once they are inside, either under a running tap or underwater in a bucket.
  • Display your iris out of direct sunlight and breezes. Change the water every 3 days or when it becomes murky and recut the stems if necessary.  Pinch off the wilted flowers as blooms emerge lower down the stem. 
  • Occasionally an iris will drip a sap-like substance – place them on a non-porous surface just to be on the safe side.

For some interesting ideas on how to display your iris, google ikebana and iris.  Ikebana is a Japanese form of flower arranging which turns cut flowers and foliage into works of art.  Whatever your displays, enjoy your iris.

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Tall bearded iris

  • Handshake - Tall Bearded Iris
    Handshake - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Pebble Fresh - Tall Bearded Iris
    Pebble Fresh - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Test Pattern - Tall Bearded Iris
    Test Pattern - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Strawberry Swirl - Tall Bearded Iris
    Strawberry Swirl - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Soiree Girl - Tall Bearded Iris
    Soiree Girl - Tall Bearded Iris
  • Shine - Tall Bearded Iris
    Shine - Tall Bearded Iris

Can we help you?

Looking for more information or a certain plant?  Want to buy wholesale?  Can't decide which iris?  Contact Mandy on 0429 857 085 or email us

From the Blog

Sunshine Iris Open Days

Sunshine Iris Open Days

November 13, 2018

As our bloom period draws to a close and the rhizomes start to put down new roots, we’d like to say a huge thank you to all of you who came to visit us during our open days.  We were thrilled to welcome and chat to so many people who had taken time out from their busy schedules to come and share our passion – bearded irises.

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Stepping into spring - Preparing your irises for spring

Stepping into spring - Preparing your irises for spring

August 26, 2018

We are all undoubtably looking forward to our irises blooming, so with the warmer weather not too far away, we thought...

Read more →