Experts tackle readers’ garden questions.
Q: I took a photo of my friend’s flower in her garden and she wanted to know if you could please tell us what kind of flower it is.
Audrey Sabin, Rio Linda
Bee garden writer Debbie Arrington: According to Phyllis Wilburn of the Sacramento Iris Society, that flower is a Crested iris (Iris cristata).
“It’s native to the southeastern states,” Wilburn said. “Here, it usually grows in partial shade.”
Crested iris can be found in the wild from Maryland to Georgia and east to Oklahoma. In the Ozarks, it tends to grow on rocky slopes or along river beds. Like bearded iris, it sprouts from underground rhizomes that can spread rapidly and form dense clumps. It naturalizes easily with little care.
This iris typically blooms in April. Planted in mass, it can form impressive drifts of blue flowers each spring.
A plus for California gardeners: Crested iris is drought tolerant. This spring flower also tolerates hungry deer.
Many iris look similar, but there’s an online answer for easy indentification, Wilburn noted. “You can look iris up by name in the Iris Encyclopedia, which is on the American Iris Society website (www.irises.org). It is a very useful tool. It has photos of many iris.”
Iris experts will be out in force this weekend, April 15 and 16, at Sacramento’s Shepard Garden and Arts Center for the annual Sacramento Iris Society show and sale. Bring iris questions and get great advice, not only on identification but care and pest control. Show hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:
- Sacramento: 916-875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday
- Amador: 209-223-6838; 10 a.m.-noon Monday-Thursday; website: ceamador.ucdavis.edu
- Butte: 530-538-7201; 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays
- Colusa: 530-458-0570; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays; website: cecolusa.ucanr.edu
- El Dorado: 530-621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Friday
- Placer: 530-889-7388; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Thursday or leave a message and calls will be returned; website: pcmg.ucanr.org/got_questions
- Nevada: 530-273-0919; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Thursday or leave a message
- Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: 530-242-2219; email email@example.com
- Solano: 707-784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned
- Sutter, Yuba: 530-822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Monday-Tuesday and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays
- Yolo: 530-666-8737; 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned