ID'ing iris from Photo's

By Denise Stewart AKA Dee (irisloverdee) on May 7, 2010

To help in understanding why judges do not want to ID from a photo

I am asked almost every year to identify an iris from a photo! 

One of the test for fun we did a very long time ago as a judge, was there were 5 pink iris in vases, all cut the exact same length.  We were given a list with 10-12 names on there to pick which 5 we had in front of us.  Now mine you these were AIS Judges.  Most got 1-2 correct

There are reasons pictures on computer monitor can show the exact same picture and have a difference in color and intensity of color in every one .There have been times I would not have believed what I was seeing on other’s monitors had I not taken a CD with some iris pictures on them to a friend that owns and repairs computers.  There was a huge difference from one computer monitor to another.


Now let’s get to the growing conditions.  Your soil PH will affect the color and/or density of color of the iris.  Fertilizers, the amount of water, rather you are on the East or West coast or in the coldest to hottest weather will also effect the color, height and various other distinguishing characteristics of an iris.  Amount of lime used as well.


The most reveling is the time of the day, the amount of sun or the lack of sun, the setting on the camera, if you have somehow gotten your white balance on the camera and not noticed it as this will cause the color to be off super big time.  Blues and purples are the hardest to take a correct photo with even a film camera.  An iris to the naked eye looks sky blue but take a picture with any camera and it will be a different color with all of them.  There is also the effect the photographer themselves can have on a camera.  Not many of  us are professional and as hard as we try to get the best photograph as possible there are differences with what we see and what the camera sees and takes a picture of, it is the nature of the game.


If you like the flower blooming in your garden keep it and enjoy it.  But if you want to sell or trade with others label it as a NOID (no identification) with the color and/or a number you have made up such as


NOID #!  S white, F pink, B red TB? Or better yet height

NOID #2 S Pink, F white B white SDB? Or better yet height


To sell to the public an iris that is improperly named can cause a MAJOR  problem in the future as we can lose the true iris because people said it looked like such and such.  How many of you have bought Mart or Depot irises to then have them bloom incorrectly.  This is because these pre-packaged dried irises are sold wholesale by color and the wholesalers slap a name on them knowing they are incorrect.  If you are not interested in names don’t worry about them.  If you are worried about having named irises then purchase them from a reliable grower..


For those of you who truly want to do the right thing and have the time then here are a few clues.  Get suggestions of what your iris might be, check them out on  PLANT FILES  on Dave’s Garden or the new Database for iris on CUBITS, then buy those that most closely resembles your iris and plant them near the unknown.  Now you have growing conditions the same, they should bloom the same time, same height with same foliage coloration and all the little things that make the named iris special to its hybidizer.  One of the best samples that you should look at is DUSKY CHALLENGER (in the plant files on Dave’s Garden) as there are 14 iris there, notice all the different colorations yet it is one and the same iris.


The other problem is that many of our iris friends here on DG are trying to hybridize and if you can not track all the parents it can be harder to do so.  Now not saying that there are some “To Die For Iris” than we know one parent but not the other and a good example is Barry Blyth’s iris WHO’S YOUR DADDY?!


I hope that his article is used as what it is meant to be used as, a tool


Thank you and hope you enjoy the article.



About Denise Stewart AKA Dee
Denise has always had a love affair with gardening. First in Calif then in Oregon. She began a small commercial Iris Grower in 1999 and continued to grow.

She is interested and enjoys quilting, sewing and jewelry making.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Should unregistered iris be shared for any other reasons than as a potential par Paul2032 Sep 3, 2011 9:17 PM 50
Untitled BETTYPISCITELLO Aug 29, 2011 2:39 PM 0
Available databases? caitlinsgarden Jun 2, 2010 1:30 PM 3
This is so important! PollyK May 11, 2010 3:44 AM 2
Great article! Patti1957 May 7, 2010 11:14 AM 1


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