Tennessee State Flower - Iris

Tennessee has not declared which iris is the official flower.

Tennessee has not declared which iris is the official flower.

The stately iris wasn't the Volunteer state's first flower choice, but you'd never know that today. Across the Tennessee landscape, you can see iris growing in abundance in residential flowerbeds and elegant public gardens. Tennessee's state flower history is an interesting example of legislative diplomacy and the power of a passionate gardening club.

Tennessee Iris History

In 1919, Tennessee's General Assembly entered a resolution honoring the votes of the state's school children, who nominated the passion flower as the state's official bloom. By 1931, groups like the Nashville Iris Association had significantly increased the national and international awareness of Tennessee's role in iris breeding and cultivation. The next few decades brought fans of both the passion flower and the iris to the forefront of the populace until finally, in 1973, an amicable negotiation was reached. The state legislature selected the iris as the cultivated state flower. The passion flower was named the state's wildflower.

Flower Description

Unlike some states, Tennessee hasn't selected one specific cultivar as its state flower and, instead, recognizes both the bearded and non-bearded varieties. This herbaceous perennial produces blooms in many colors such as blue, purple, pink or white. The elegant blooms have long petals arranged in two rows. The center or top row of petals has rippled edges that grow upward to protect the stamen, while the lower row flutters downwards. The bearded variety has a third, even lower row that folds down, covering the stem protectively.

Growing the Iris

The iris reaches heights of 6 inches to 4 feet tall, making it a flexible component for a garden or landscaping project. The showy flower likes the sun and needs at least six hours of direct light daily. This perennial thrives when it receives adequate air circulation, so keeping flowerbeds free of debris and weeds is important. Acidic soil is best for growing irises, and annual fertilization is necessary -- 5-10-10 fertilizer provides the best results.

Irises As Gifts

Iris arrangements, like those you can order from ProFlowers, have a full, lush look. Whether paired with roses or left by themselves, this flower can't be missed. Order an arrangement of vivid blue irises or a multi-colored tulip and iris mix. These flowers have tall stems with tight buds that unfold slowly. Cut irises don't require any extra care. Simply snipping off the stems every few days and replacing the vase's water with fresh, clean water will prolong the life of these floral beauties.

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