About Northern Blue Flag: The Northern Blue Flag is the most well-known of the native irises. Native Americans and early settlers found a practical use for this plant, using the strong fibers from the leaves to make ropes, nets, and string. The word "iris" comes from Greek, meaning "rainbow." The mythical Iris of Greek legend personified the rainbow, acting as the messenger from heaven to earth. This flower also appears in ancient Egyptian sculpture and tradition, as a symbol of life and power.
Northern Blue Flag Germination: To help soften the hard seed coat, soak the seeds overnight in warm water before planting. To germinate, these seeds need a period of several months of cold followed by warmth. To accomplish this naturally, direct sow the seeds on the surface of the soil in fall; they will begin to germinate in the late spring and early summer. Alternatively, the seed can be store in moist sand in the refrigerator for 60-90 days then planted on the surface of the soil in peat pots. For best results use slightly acidic soil, keeping it moist and at a temperature of 70-75 degrees F until germination. This seed germinates rather slowly, usually beginning to sprout after approximately three months. Keep in mind that germination will continue through the first several years, as the seeds gradually come out of dormancy. The seedlings can be planted outdoors in late spring or early summer or when there is no chance of frost, or when they have reached a height of 4-6".
Growing Northern Blue Flag Seeds: Seedlings will need regular watering until they become established. Mature plants also prefer moist soil, thriving even in 2-4" of standing water. These native plants flourish with little attention, and eventually form natural colonies that last for decades. When fully grown, the plants can easily be divided in late fall. Blooming usually begins in the second year after planting. This plant attracts bees and butterflies.
Harvesting Northern Blue Flag: These blossoms do not perform well as cut flowers, and are best enjoyed outdoors.
Saving Northern Blue Flag Seeds: Very soon after blooming, this plant will produce large green pods that quickly turn brown and drop their seed. Gather the pods as soon as the seeds inside have turned brown; spread the pods out to dry completely, then separate the seeds from the husks. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place; for best results, plant the seed as soon as possible.
Detailed Northern Blue Flag Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Dagger Flower, Water Iris, Liver Lily, Harlequin Blueflag Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 24-36 inches Spacing: 15-18 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Wet to Medium USDA Zone: 2a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 1300 Produces a plant with stiff, sword-shaped leaves and 3-4" pale to bright lavender blossoms with darker purple veins and white or yellow markings at the center.