Monday, November 2, 2015

Late Season Favorite: Iris 'Coral Chalice'

By Renee Fraser

As my experience growing irises increases, I find that I generally prefer older irises that have good plant habits, bloom prolifically, and resist disease.  I also look for irises that bloom in the early part of the season and rebloom in the fall, because it gets so very hot here in Simi Valley that by June, late-bloomers melt like cotton candy in the sun.

But there is always an exception.  'Coral Chalice' is indeed an older iris, and a rebloomer.  It has nice enough foliage, and it does not rot or get leaf spot.  But it is not a great bloomer for me.  The blooms sometimes clump up at the top of the stalk, interfering with each other so that they don't open properly, and since it blooms in the late season and has very little substance, each bloom only lasts a day when it is hot.

So why do I still grow it?  And why did I order even more rhizomes after the first year bloom to start a second clump of it as soon as possible?

I find it exceptionally lovely.  There is something about that peach blush on the hafts and the orange beard that makes the white flower even brighter and more luminous.


It is a wonderful companion to another favorite, 'Cajun Rhythm'.  So I photograph it, endlessly, so that I can enjoy it even as it curls up in on itself after a day in triple-digit heat.

'Coral Chalice' was created by Niswonger in 1982.  It grows to about 34" tall, and although it is listed as midseason, it always blooms in late May or June for me, and is among the last to flower.  It has double socketed buds, and the top bud is often triple socketed.

Do you have a favorite that you keep despite a few flaws?  Let us know why you love your imperfect iris in the comments below.


  1. Two irises come immediately to mind. 'Kitty Kay' by Keith Keppel in 2002 and 'Geneality' by Opal Brown in 1989/ Kitty Kay doesn't have healthy foliage for me and Geneality is not a good increaser for me and is quite short (29") compared to my other iris. I need to replant it by other short ones.

    1. "Kitty Kay" has been a poor performer for many people, but they say the flowers make it all worth it. Interesting about the height issue on Geniality. It's such a wonderful color, so the height would make it good for the front of a bed.

  2. Coral Chalice is a very early bloomer for me in Maryland. Today was my first day of bloom, out of the approximate!y 40 TBs that will bloom for me this year. And Coral Chalice was one of the 5 open on day one, along with Champagne Elegance, Tennessee Gentleman, and a couple of NOIDs. This article was my introduction to Coral Chalice, and it's just as lovely as you pictured it. Thanks!


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