Irises are among spring's first flowers, sometimes peeking through snow that's left over from winter. These bright purple blooms with accents of contrasting yellow have a short vase life, however, lasting between three and five days. Take care of them so you can enjoy the brief time they have.
When your arrangement arrives, make an inch-long diagonal cut on each stem to ensure proper water intake. If you can, make the cuts under water; either way, don't let the stems dry before returning them to the vase. Dissolve floral food into the fresh water and, if possible, put the irises in the refrigerator for two or three hours to increase their life expectancy. When you're ready to display them, choose a cool room clear of direct sunlight, cold drafts and excessive heat. Irises tend to be thirsty flowers, so make sure they have fresh water. It's also a good idea to change the water once a day to prevent bacteria from growing.
The Iris is named for the Greek goddess Iris, whom, according to Greek mythology, used the rainbow to deliver messages from heaven to Earth. It is said that ancient Greeks would plant irises on women's graves so that the goddess would guide them to heaven. Today, the iris is the official flower of France, where it symbolizes power and royalty.
While the purple iris is among the most popular, the flower can also be found in blue, which symbolizes faith and hope; yellow, which stands for passion; and white, which stands for innocence and purity. The purple iris is known to represent royalty, but it can also stand for wisdom and respect.
The iris serves as the state flower of Tennessee and is used to celebrate 25th wedding anniversaries.