Irises are one of my favorite flowers. Greek for rainbow, this flower is named after the Greek goddess of love.

With about 260 to 300 species, irises are part of the Iridaceae family and divided into six subgenera. The taxonomy is often confusing. Even experts are divided on the correct classifications of the plants. There are thousands of cultivars as well as naturalized hybrids. There are more than 30,000 cultivars of bearded iris alone.

Commonly called flags, these sun-loving perennials grow from rhizomes. Irises prefer well-drained soil and are quite easy to grow. They also multiply quickly, which makes them fun to share. Simply dig up the rhizomes and break them apart. They prefer to be shallowly planted. Some types can be invasive so read the label or ask generous friends why they have so darn many to share.

Sword-shaped leaves emerge in early spring followed by flashy flowers on tall stalks. Flowers, part drooping and part upright, have a variety of color combinations. Upright petals are called standards; hanging sepals…