There is a photo that I frequently see on the internet of an iris with bright turquoise and pink coloring. I'm amused when I see it and I've seen other gardeners comment on it as well. It's amusing because that color of iris doesn't exist. Even in the world of irises, there is someone willing to take your money.
However, there are some wonderful companies and individuals you can order from. When I started growing irises about 17 years ago, I found that iris people are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They are willing to trade, swap, and give advice if you ask for it. My buying experiences have been mostly positive - from both private and commercial sellers.
Living in Virginia, I've found the best time to plant is in July/August. Now is a great time to order irises, if you haven't already. I appreciate those who purchase from me, but there are many irises I don't have and I'm a house garden - not a large-scale commercial nursery. My supplies are limited. So how do you know who to buy from?
Here are some tips:
1.) One of the best pieces of advice I can give is that if you see an iris for sale in a catalog or online, look up the iris variety on garden.org or davesgarden.com Why? Often, pictures advertising irises for sale look a little better than they do in real life. On the websites I just mentioned, fellow gardeners post pictures of their varieties. If an average phone photo taken in a garden with no enhanced lighting/editing looks good, you know it should look good when it grows in your garden.
2.) Compare costs. When I've seen irises for sale, I've seen a big disparity in prices when it comes to the cost of varieties. Typically, new or relatively new introductions will cost more. That's understandable. But if you're looking at a variety that's been out awhile, do a cost comparison. Why pay more if you don't have to?
3.) Social media - Because I have a display garden, I'm a stickler for iris varieties being true to name. Over the years I've been sent irises that were not what I ordered and because of this, I have a collection of NOIDs. If you want all of your varieties to be true to name, I'd be very careful who you buy from on social media. There are some great iris gardens on social media. When I buy through social media, I buy from an iris garden or inquire through an iris society.
4.) Seeds - Yes, irises can be grown from seed. However, there are some drawbacks and it's a process. I'd suggest doing some research on what growing iris from seed involves so that you can determine if it's the right choice for you. Personally, I prefer to order rhizomes.
5.) Grab a friend - Is there anything today that's not expensive? :) The cost of shipping when ordering irises from someone or a company, can be expensive. I encourage people to find a friend who will also place an order from the same vendor and then you can share the cost of shipping.
I hope these tips are helpful! Our sale starts at midnight on July 23rd. I'll be posting more info on the Events page of this site and on Facebook.