Monday, April 6, 2020

Black is Dramatic!

By Mel Schiller

There is nothing more alluring and mysterious than a clump of black iris. Hearing the gasps from garden visitors as they gaze in disbelief upon the sultry beauty and pure elegance of these dark magical blooms, without a doubt the black iris are a firm favourite in our garden. Here are the top 8 black Tall Bearded Iris grown at Smokin Heights.

'Coal Face' (Grosvenor 2010)
Coming in at number eight is 'Coal Face,' hybridized by Graeme Grosvenor here in Australia. A fast and easy growing variety although it is not as dark as we would like.

'Black Is Black' (Schreiner 2010)
Seventh Place is 'Black Is Black,' hybridized by Schreiner's. Stunning depth of colour but not the fastest of growers, it also has purple based foliage.

'Obsidian' (M. Smith 2002)
In sixth place is 'Obsidian,' hybridized by Marky Smith. One of the first 'black' Iris that we grew, it will always have a spot in our garden!

'Visigoth' (M. Smith 2013)
Placing fifth is 'Visigoth,' another iris hybridized by Marky Smith. A newer variety here in Australia, it has thoroughly impressed us with its growth habits and depth of colour in the blooms.

Unfortunately there are no true black Iris on the market today, they will always have a blue, purple or even red undertone to the bloom. However, with extensive hybridizing we hope to achieve a true black Iris in the future.

'All Night Long' (Duncan 2005)
Beginning the top four we have 'All Night Long,' hybridized by the late Roger Duncan. One of our favourites in this colour class, it is a late bloomer that can handle the heat without burning towards the end of our iris season.

'Black Lipstick' (Keppel 2016)
In third place is 'Black Lipstick,' hybridized by Keith Keppel. It is very good parent that has given us some good seedlings. Amazing growth and bloom habits.

'Raven Girl' (Schreiner 2008)
Placing second is 'Raven Girl,' hybridized by Schreiner's, one of the best black Iris on the market. This variety has the best colour saturation of any black iris. This would be number one if it grew a bit quicker.

'Here Comes The Night' (Schreiner 2009)
And placing first is 'Here Comes The Night,' another hybridized by Schreiner's. Amazing growth and blooms habits coupled with depth of colour makes it a winning combination. Highly recommended for the lovers of black iris!

F79-1: (Raven Girl X Visigoth)
Finally we would like to show a sneak peak of one of our black seedlings currently under evaluation. This variety is looking very promising with great growth and bloom habits and gorgeous depth of colour.

Black iris create such a dramatic effect and really are a must have in the garden. Of course as with any variety of Bearded Iris some varieties grow better than others. We much prefer to grow the early to mid season bloom varieties as our hot scorching sun can scald and burn the bud in the socket before the bloom has a chance to open. Bailey and myself are working on black iris in our hybridizing efforts and of course black is Mel's favourite colour.....

We sincerely hope everyone keeps safe and healthy in these difficult times. Gardening is music to the soul--get out and enjoy it!


  1. Thanks for the tips on growing strength. I really like #8!

    1. Thank you Renee you are most welcome.....#8 is beautiful too!

  2. I've always been fascinated by the black iris. So fun to play with in beds. I have black and white Boston Terriers so eventually I'll have a beautiful black and white bed dedicated to the dogs!


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