When you traverse the hillside and woods of continental Croatia, you’re likely to spot dark violet flowers spotting whitish yellow beards. This branched-stem plant is the iris Croatia aka the bearded iris. It’s Croatia’s national flower – a symbol of national heritage, hope, bravery, wisdom, and faith. Here’re some fun facts about it.
Croatians call it the Perunika – Sorry Thor but Perun, the Slavic god of Thunder and lightning has a flower named after him. In Slavic mythology, Perun is the god of the pantheon; his attributes are thunder, lightning, fire, and more. He was honored by having this flower named after him. This makes this flower a symbol of national pride to Croatians.
Its religious background makes it divine and magnificent – legend has it that it only grows on the grounds struck by Perun’s thunderbolt arrow. People take a walk in the fields where the flower blooms in the hope of receiving divine messages from above conveyed through these heavenly messengers – the divine offsprings.
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Discover the various benefits of Iris flower
In the Greek language, Iris is a word meaning “Rainbow” – The iris flower can have various colors such as lavender, orange, white, pink, and more. If the perunika gets mixed with other iris flower variants in the same garden, they bloom to the delightful colors of the rainbow spectrum.
It has several uses – Since time immemorial, the iris flower has held divine, medicinal, and ornamental values. No wonder it has been chosen as the symbol of national pride not just by Croatia but France and Jordan too. Here’s how the flower is useful:
- Attracting hummingbirds and bees
- Decorating lawns and parks
- Preparation of perfumes
- Making of medicines for stomach aches, skin infection and more
- As an emblem for faith, hope, passion, and bravery through its colors
Enjoy parks filled with Iris in Zagreb
Don’t forget to take a walk in Zagreb’s park, smell the flowers and relax in the gentle violet shade of this little gods. This is what attracted the Croatian natives to the flower, and in the year 2000 it was declared the national flower of Croatia
Its blooms during the summer – During May, the flower is in full bloom; lining the parks and countryside with shades of dark violet.
It’s endemic therefore protected – It only grows in Europe’s temperate zones and after it blooms its foliage wither just after 3 days. It flourishes in limestone and dolomite-rich soils so you’ll mostly spot it when hiking through the hillside of Croatia. But you can also spot it in parks and homes where folks have introduced it to special conditioned gardens. It’s among the nine strictly protected plants in Croatia, therefore, avoid picking it.
Growing and maintaining Bearded Iris
The bearded iris grows in rich, moist soils that are well drained. Limestone and dolomite deposits are essential for blooming, so make use of conditioners such as Gypsum in your garden – 7 is the ideal PH level. You should plant a bearded iris on slopes or elevated beds for proper drainage.
The best period to plant them is before the frost – usually 7 weeks before the frost hits. You can plant them in late summer so that by the time winter hits, they’ve already spread their roots in the ground. Another time to plant is as soon as spring hits.
When planting just make sure to leave rhizomes exposed unless it’s a hot climate where slight covering with soil is okay. The roots should be spread out and downward facing, so they get established in the ground faster. Plant the flowers 12 inches apart and water to ensure roots settle in the ground. Expose the iris plants to up to 6 hours of sun for better blooming. But in hot climates, shades come in useful.
When the foliage dies after blooming, remove it from the garden to prevent pest infestation. Cutting off the foliage also directs the plant’s energy to the rhizomes which it will use to make it through the frosty winter. Additionally, remember to do thinning often to eliminate crowding which encourages pests. You can use fertilizer by composting it around your plant.
In retrospect, Bearded iris are the staples of Croatian gardens. They’re easy to maintain and can re-bloom too gracing the lands with their gentle shade of dark violet twice a year – conveying a message of bravery, hope, and faith.
Featured photo by Marijana195 / Licence CC BY-SA 4.0