Iris chrysographes 'Black Gold' is quite simply stunning. A slender, refined and understated iris, with mesmerising velvety midnight-black petals, each veined with golden-yellow highlights at its throat.
Native of China, Burma and Tibet, this clump-forming, beardless iris is related to the moisture-loving Siberian iris. Dramatic, midnight-black flowers appear in May above strap-like grey-green leaves. It makes an eye-catching feature in a sunny, boggy area of the garden, or beside water. After flowering the sword-like foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season.
Easily grown from seed, they are extremely hardy, require little maintenance and are absolutely spectacular in bloom. Once seen, they are never forgotten.
Iris chrysographes has been awarded the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow from Autumn to Spring
Keep the seeds in packaging in a fridge until they are planted. Seeds need cold in order to be able to germinate. There are two methods that can be used to break the dormancy of the seeds. Before planting soak the seeds in water. Take one cup of hot (not boiling) tap water, add the seed, let it cool and let soak for 24 hours.
The Natural Method.
One way is to “Winter Sow” the seeds. Sow seeds in moisture retentive compost 6mm (1/8th) inch deep, before winter, and place it in a sheltered part of the garden exposed to the elements, in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse. The seed trays then have the benefits of the repeated chill and thaw that it would naturally. Grit can be used to protect the seed and surface of the soil.
The alternative method is to subject them to a period of cold “stratification” for two to three months prior to planting. To do this, place the seeds either in a dampened piece of kitchen roll, in a small plastic bag or in a small container filled with slightly moist soil, moss or sand
Place them in the fridge (not freezer) Check seeds periodically as germination may occur while in the fridge. Plant out into 7cm (3in) pots as they germinate.
Seeds may take from 30 to 180 days to germinate, so let the pot sit for at least one year.
They look a little like grass spikes, they must be kept moist at all times: check them regularly and pot on once they are large enough to handle. Grow seedlings in a cool environment after germination. Plant outside after seedlings have been hardened off.
Iris chrysographes is easily cultivated, they enjoys moist growing conditions. For best blooming plant in moist fertile soil if in full sun, otherwise they can be planted in shade.
Alluring though they might be in principle, black or dark flowers can be difficult to place in the garden if they are to be seen to best advantage. Sombre colours can sink into the shadows if not set off by contrasting flowers or foliage. In sunny parts of the garden, silver-leafed plants can create a foil for black blooms to prevent an impression of unrelieved gloom.
The partnership works both ways, of course. Black flowers can give depth to plantings of fiery red and orange dahlias and Mexican daisies they will also will save pale pinks from looking saccharine or over-pretty.
Once established these are very hardy perennials and require little maintenance.
Plants require two years before they will produce flowers but they are well worth the wait. Established plants should be divided after every three years. Before and after planting and flowering, cut the leaves to 15cm (6in) to prevent the rhizome being dislodged by wind-rock.
Beds and Borders, Water Features, Ponds and Streams, Bog Gardens.
This Iris is one of the easiest, and showiest, of native aquatics for the home gardener.
The roots of Iris are used to make natural dyes. When used with an alum mordant will give shades of dark bluish purple to black.
Iris chrysographes, commonly known as the Black Iris is native to South China, Myanmar (Burma) and Tibet, growing in meadows, streamside’s, hillsides and forest margins.
It was collected by Ernest Wilson in Sichuan in 1908.
Pronounced EYE-riss cry-so-GRAH-feez it is commonly known as the Black Iris and has the horticultural classification of the Sino-Siberian Iris or Beardless Iris.
The iris's history is rich, dating back to Ancient Greek times. Iris was a Greek messenger-goddess who rode rainbows between heaven and earth to deliver messages from Olympus. With over 200 varieties in a wide spectrum of colours, the iris fittingly takes its name from the Greek word for "rainbow".
The species name chrysographes is from the Greek meaning 'gold writing' a reference to the gold veining on the plant.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 Seeds Family Iridaceae Genus Iris Species chrysographes Cultivar Black Gold Common Name Black Iris, Golden Vein Iris Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Velvety midnight-black Natural Flower Time Late spring to early summer. Foliage Strap-like grey-green leaves Height 35 to 45cm (14 to 18in) Position Full sun or partial shade Time to Sow Sow from Autumn to Spring