If you visualize a plant's foliage as growing on the stem in sporadic step, instead of having its foliage like young corn or leeks, you can possibly get the picture of the appearance of Scorpio irises (also known as Juno irises). The fact is that Juno irises are so unlike than other irises that there is already some talk that these irises should be classified into an altogether new genus, which will only comprise plants of this iris group. Scorpio or Juno irises comprise a large number of iris species, more than 50, but just a few of these species are grown regularly. Juno irises are indigenous to the dry areas of central Asia as well as in the region of the Mediterranean having extreme climatic conditions.
Juno irises are able to endure extreme climatic conditions that prevail in their place of origin, for instance, they are frost-hardy withstanding temperatures as low as 10°F. The blooms of Juno irises have a bizarre form. They emerge from the leaf axils and their standards are more or less indistinguishable. The standards Juno irises may be flat or grow pointing downwards akin to small, firm wings. On the other hand, the style arms of these irises appear where the standards are normally present. The falls too may be horizontal or be positioned in an erect angle of approximately 45°. If you want to cut Juno iris flowers for indoor decoration, it is advisable that you avoid taking many leaves with a view to stay away from making the bulb weak.
The bulbs of Juno iris are thick around the neck and they are covered by a flimsy brownish tissue. They come with white, fleshy roots, making them look somewhat like long radishes that grow downwards into the ground. Every year, these fleshy roots are replaced to avoid any damage to the bulb. When the bulbs are excavated, you can see the old as well as the new roots together. These bulbs need to be handled carefully, as the new roots are not only fragile, but also precious. The roots give out a series of new roots during the fall triggering their annual growth cycle. These roots have a fibrous texture.
It is quite easy to grow Juno irises, provided you follow a few important points. If you want to grow Juno irises, it is important to ensure that the soil in your garden has an excellent drainage. Ideally, they should be grown in elevated beds in complete sunlight. They grow best in a mixture containing 50 percent soil and 50 percent sand. They are appropriate for growing in pots/ containers because Juno iris plants loathe being disturbed. Apparently, Juno irises are meant to be kept somewhat dry when they go into a dormant phase during summer. If you are growing these plants in containers, it is easier to shift them under a cover after their blooming season.
Juno iris plants enjoy when they are provided with a lime and blood meal top dressing. Alternatively, you may also provide the plants with properly decomposed manure during the fall.
Since it is usually difficult to purchase Scorpio or Juno iris plants from the market or any grower, it is advisable that you grow them from seed. Juno irises come into bloom approximately four years from the date of sowing.
Full sunlight is the foremost requirement for cultivating healthy Juno irises. Juno irises that have their origin in the arid steppe as well as the hilly regions of Asia are familiar with the continental climatic condition, which is marked by chilly winters and plenty of snows, while the summers are hot and arid. On the other hand, Juno irises native to the Mediterranean region are comparatively less resilient and are unable to withstand the cold weather.
Once their blooming season is complete in spring, Juno or Scorpio irises like to remain dormant during the summer. The flowering season of these irises is subject to the species as well as the climatic conditions prevailing in your region. Normally, the blooming time starts in April and continues through May. In some instances, the blooming season may even extend to June.
Juno irises do not thrive in places where the climatic conditions during summers vary from humid to wet. A section of gardeners have grown Juno irises successfully in places having such climates have actually been fortunate to grow these plants by eliminating all water and even by providing roofing above the beds with a view to avoid rains.
Ideally the soil in your garden should be similar to that in their land of origin. It is preferable to have a soil that ranges from sandy to heavy subject to the Juno iris you are cultivating. It has been found that Juno irises do not like acidic soils, but prefer soils having higher pH, similar to those in the regions having limestone bedrock. Growing Juno irises in sandy or gravelly soil is best for growing majority of the bulbous iris varieties.
When Juno irises are grown in pots/ containers, using a well-drained soil mix will give positive results. At the same time, the plants should not be watered excessively. If you want to grow Juno irises successfully in pots, you should preferably water the plants from the bottom. In addition, you should wait for the potting medium to become almost dry before you water the plants again. Juno irises do not thrive when there is too much moisture. Therefore, having excessive moisture is among the major problems in growing Scorpio or Juno irises successfully.
If you are growing Juno irises outdoors, it is essential to mulch the plants, especially seedlings, with straw or any similar substance. Mulching the plants will save them from harm caused by the freeze-thaw cycles. In fact, the freeze-thaw cycles can destroy the plants completely. Even Juno iris plants that have the capability to endure extreme chilly climates usually suffer severe damages when there are hard cold snaps, which follow a warm spell out of season.