Iris, (genus Iris), genus of about 300 species of plants in the family Iridaceae, including some of the world’s most popular and varied garden flowers. The diversity of the genus is centred in the north temperate zone, though some of its most handsome species are native to the Mediterranean and central Asian areas. The iris is (arguably) the fleur-de-lis of the French royalist standard. It is a popular subject of Japanese flower arrangement, and it is also the source of orrisroot, from which “essence of violet” perfume is made.


Iris Meaning and Symbolism

November 5, 2021

blue-purple iris fields with a sunrise in the background

Whether you know them as irises, flags, or the flowers of summer, these beautiful blooms rarely disappoint. You can find them brightening mixed flower bouquets, blooming in cottage gardens, and growing wild alongside country roads. And with so many different iris colors and varieties available, there’s one of these flowers for every person and occasion.

Not only are irises beautiful, but they are also associated with powerful meanings and symbolism. While the exact meaning varies depending on the location and color of the iris, this flower is associated with many positive feelings. Some of these meanings include faith, wisdom, and positive change.

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The Meaning of Iris

Iris is both the common name for these flowers as well as the name of the plant genus. So where does this name come from?

In Greek, iris means rainbow. Many people believe these flowers ended up with the name iris due to the color variation of their blooms.

These colorful flowers share their name with the Greek goddess Iris who acted as a messenger between gods and humans. You can say she was a bit like a rainbow that builds a bridge between heaven and earth. Many of the symbolism associated with iris flowers ties back to this goddess.

Iris Meanings

Outside of the literal translation, irises carry many meanings.

Faith and Hope

Irises are a symbol of enduring faith and hope. While their blooms wither when cold weather arrives, shoots and colorful flowers reemerge each spring. During the dark days of winter, irises are a reminder that bright days lie ahead.

Due to this meaning, irises are great gifts for anyone going through a rough time. By sending an iris bouquet to an injured or grieving loved one, you remind them to keep hope that things will improve. And when they receive an iris, they won’t be able to help but smile.


Due to the association with the Greek goddess Iris, these flowers are a symbol of wisdom and truth. They remind us to be patient and seek out the true and ethical path.

If someone is struggling with a big decision, go ahead and send them an iris to guide their choices.

Positive Change

Irises are always changing. They emerge each spring, bloom, and then die. And then they begin the cycle all over again. While dying may not seem like a good thing, irises are simply saving energy so they can re-emerge as beautiful flowers.

With this in mind, irises are a great way to remind someone that they can find something better. This means they’re a good gift for someone who went through a breakup or is seeking a new job.

Where to Plant Bearded Iris

These hardy perennials flourish in USDA Zones 3-9, where winter temperatures dip below freezing and let the plant go dormant before next year’s growth.

How and When to Plant Bearded Iris

Plant bearded iris in a sunny spot in late summer. Bearded irises need good air circulation so give them room to breathe. Plant them a minimum of 16 to 18 inches apart (less space for dwarf irises and more for tall beaded iris varieties).

field of multi-colored bearded irises with trees and a fence in the background
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