Scorpio Or Juno Irises
If you visualize a plant’s foliage as growing on the stem in sporadic step, instead of having its foliage like young corn or leeks, you can possibly get the picture of the appearance of Scorpio irises (also known as Juno irises). The fact is that Juno irises are so unlike than other irises that there is already some talk that these irises should be classified into an altogether new genus, which will only comprise plants of this iris group. Scorpio or Juno irises comprise a large number of iris species, more than 50, but just a few of these species are grown regularly. Juno irises are indigenous to the dry areas of central Asia as well as in the region of the Mediterranean having extreme climatic conditions.
Juno irises are able to endure extreme climatic conditions that prevail in their place of origin, for instance, they are frost-hardy withstanding temperatures as low as 10°F. The blooms of Juno irises have a bizarre form. They emerge from the leaf axils and their standards are more or less indistinguishable. The standards Juno irises may be flat or grow pointing downwards akin to small, firm wings. On the other hand, the style arms of these irises appear where the standards are normally present. The falls too may be horizontal or be positioned in an erect angle of approximately 45°. If you want to cut Juno iris flowers for indoor decoration, it is advisable that you avoid taking many leaves with a view to stay away from making the bulb weak.
The bulbs of Juno iris are thick around the neck and they are covered by a flimsy brownish tissue. They come with white, fleshy roots, making them look somewhat like long radishes that grow downwards into the ground. Every year, these fleshy roots are replaced to avoid any damage to the bulb. When the bulbs are excavated, you can see the old as well as the new roots together. These bulbs need to be handled carefully, as the new roots are not only fragile, but also precious. The roots give out a series of new roots during the fall triggering their annual growth cycle. These roots have a fibrous texture.
It is quite easy to grow Juno irises, provided you follow a few important points. If you want to grow Juno irises, it is important to ensure that the soil in your garden has an excellent drainage. Ideally, they should be grown in elevated beds in complete sunlight. They grow best in a mixture containing 50 percent soil and 50 percent sand. They are appropriate for growing in pots/ containers because Juno iris plants loathe being disturbed. Apparently, Juno irises are meant to be kept somewhat dry when they go into a dormant phase during summer. If you are growing these plants in containers, it is easier to shift them under a cover after their blooming season.
Juno iris plants enjoy when they are provided with a lime and blood meal top dressing. Alternatively, you may also provide the plants with properly decomposed manure during the fall.
Since it is usually difficult to purchase Scorpio or Juno iris plants from the market or any grower, it is advisable that you grow them from seed. Juno irises come into bloom approximately four years from the date of sowing.
Full sunlight is the foremost requirement for cultivating healthy Juno irises. Juno irises that have their origin in the arid steppe as well as the hilly regions of Asia are familiar with the continental climatic condition, which is marked by chilly winters and plenty of snows, while the summers are hot and arid. On the other hand, Juno irises native to the Mediterranean region are comparatively less resilient and are unable to withstand the cold weather.
Once their blooming season is complete in spring, Juno or Scorpio irises like to remain dormant during the summer. The flowering season of these irises is subject to the species as well as the climatic conditions prevailing in your region. Normally, the blooming time starts in April and continues through May. In some instances, the blooming season may even extend to June.
Juno irises do not thrive in places where the climatic conditions during summers vary from humid to wet. A section of gardeners have grown Juno irises successfully in places having such climates have actually been fortunate to grow these plants by eliminating all water and even by providing roofing above the beds with a view to avoid rains.
Ideally the soil in your garden should be similar to that in their land of origin. It is preferable to have a soil that ranges from sandy to heavy subject to the Juno iris you are cultivating. It has been found that Juno irises do not like acidic soils, but prefer soils having higher pH, similar to those in the regions having limestone bedrock. Growing Juno irises in sandy or gravelly soil is best for growing majority of the bulbous iris varieties.
When Juno irises are grown in pots/ containers, using a well-drained soil mix will give positive results. At the same time, the plants should not be watered excessively. If you want to grow Juno irises successfully in pots, you should preferably water the plants from the bottom. In addition, you should wait for the potting medium to become almost dry before you water the plants again. Juno irises do not thrive when there is too much moisture. Therefore, having excessive moisture is among the major problems in growing Scorpio or Juno irises successfully.
If you are growing Juno irises outdoors, it is essential to mulch the plants, especially seedlings, with straw or any similar substance. Mulching the plants will save them from harm caused by the freeze-thaw cycles. In fact, the freeze-thaw cycles can destroy the plants completely. Even Juno iris plants that have the capability to endure extreme chilly climates usually suffer severe damages when there are hard cold snaps, which follow a warm spell out of season.
- I. bucharica
- Among all Juno irises, I. bucharica is possibly the most well-known. I. bucharica plants may be found growing up to a height of 20 inches (50 cm), but their blooms are strangely smaller. Similar to the flowers of gladioli, the blooms of I. bucharica open in a controlled manner, what can be described as from the top down. Both the standards as well as the falls of I. bucharica have a creamy yellow color and the white crests are broad and grow upright. The style arms of the flowers are also similar to their falls and standards – broad and vertical. This iris species is in bloom during mid-spring. The bulbs of this iris species are large and reproduce about eight bulblets in quick succession.
- I. persica
- As the name of this iris species suggests, it has its origin in Iran and Turkey and the plants bloom nearly at the level of the ground. These plants are in bloom in the late winter and through spring. The flowers of I. persica come in an assortment of colors – white, greenish-blue, red-purple, yellow and violet. Although this iris species has been grown for several centuries, currently it is neither available easily nor grown extensively.
Iris persica is an important parent of one of the Juno iris cultivars named I. “Sindpers. The other parent of this cultivar is Iris aucheri (syn I. sindjarensis). I. “Sindpers” grows very vigorously and bears blooms having attractive cool hues that include pale-turquoise, slate-green and gray. I. persica plants grow up to a height of 4 inches (10 cm) and bloom in the early winter months.
- I. magnifica
- This is a very robustly growing iris species that is one of the more extensively grown Juno irises. This is an ideal plant for growing in any sunny rock garden. I. magnifica is a relatively taller Juno iris species and it grows up to a height of anything between 12 inches and 24 inches (30 cm and 60 cm). Plants of this iris species produce yellow and light lilac flowers. Broad wings appear on the falls’ haft and these serve in the form of drainage channels – they help to remove the moisture present in the ovaries.
- I. warleyensis
- This Juno iris species has its origin in Bukhara in Uzbekistan. The plants are hardy, produce slender foliage and bear lovely lilac-hued blooms. The falls of I. warleyensis have a definite shapely pattern of white, yellow and dark purple.
- I. willmottiana
- This Juno iris species has a vigorous growth. I. willmottiana is a small plant growing up to a height of just 6 inches to 10 inches (15 cm to 25 cm) and during the blooming season, the stems of plant are packed with roughly eight wide, glossy leaves usually having an elongate shape.
The flowers of I. willmottiana have delicate lavender or light purple hue with white and darker lavender stripes on the falls. The falls of these flowers also have wings that act as drainage channels – a typical feature of irises belonging to this Juno species.
- I. cycloglossa
- This is one Juno iris species that can be grown without much difficulty. The flowers of I. cycloglossa appear during the latter part of the season and their shape is somewhat like that of Xiphium blooms having large, straight standards. These plants bear intense purple-blue flowers that are aromatic and their perfume reminds one of cloves. I. cycloglossa plants generally have a solitary branch. Sometimes, a plant of this species may have more than one branch and each of them bear either one or two blooms.
Aril and Arilbred Irises
Bearded Irises / Culture / Species
Evansia or Crested Irises
Louisiana or Hexagona Irises
Miniature Dwarf Bearded Irises
Novelty Bearded Irises
Pacific Coast or California Irises
Reticulata or Dwarf Bulbous Irises