For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens


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Dormant Iris: A long winter’s nap

SnowGardenSmallWill the recent mild winter temperatures around the country impact the winter dormancy cycle of the bearded Iris? Hard to say at this point. Iris are tough. However, any heaving of the soil from the hard freezes which might still come could dislodge the rhizomes, which could be disastrous for their survival. We recommend keeping a close watch on the Iris beds should the weather bring hard freezes. A winter protection can help minimize any potential damage typically caused by hard freeze cycles. Straw, evergreen branches or leaves, or even mounding the soil up around the rhizomes are recommended forms of winter protection. The key with winter protection is to remove it when the threat of hard freezes has passed in the spring. If a spring-time freeze is forecast after new shoots have begun to show, be sure to shield these shoots with recommended protection.

So, what do Iris do all winter? They sleep – or rather, they prepare for the springtime show. Bearded Iris grow best in temperate climates because they require a dormant period which is brought on by winter’s low temperatures (consistently below 40° Fahrenheit (below 5° Celsius) for an extended duration). This dormant period allows the rhizome to convert the energy, which it collected all spring and summer through the plant’s foliage, into the production of new foliage and bloom stalks. Should the current warm trend continue in areas that typically see much colder temperatures this time of year, gardeners might see mixed results in the springtime bloom of the Bearded Iris. Unusual weather patterns, such as sudden freezes following periods of mild temperatures can result in bent stems or wavy leaves (known as “pineappling”), for example. Despite the disfigured appearance of the stem and foliage, the plant is healthy. As long as the rhizome remains firm, the plant will continue to grow. Remember, lack of bloom does not necessarily mean that the Iris plant has died.

We hope that you have found this tidbit of information useful. We welcome your questions and comments in the Comments section below.

Here we share a collage of images from our archives of the Display Gardens in winter through the years …

Winter-Collage-1969-2012-web

DisplayGardens-Dec2015-web

Display Gardens, Quinaby Road, Dec. 28th, 2015

May you find peace and fulfillment in gardening!

Happy New Year!

The Schreiner Family

 


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Step out of the Iris garden and into a good book.

The foliage has been trimmed. The debris cleared away. The gardening tools are clean and stored (…right?)… Time to head indoors. Time to get yourself a good read or two to fuel your gardening (and Iris) passion. Here we offer a run down of a handful of titles (yes, they are found on our website, not by coincidence…) We believe you will enjoy these. In fact, friends and family might enjoy them too. Pass this post along to them! We’d be much obliged!

Beardless Irises|Kevin Vaughn

Author Kevin Vaughn autographing his new book while visiting Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Beardless Irises|Kevin VaughnOur newest offering, “Beardless Irises: A Plant for Every Garden Situation” (2015 Kevin Vaughn). Written by local Oregon author Kevin Vaughn, this complete guide gives all the information you need to choose, grow, and appreciate the beardless iris—from basic planting information to help beginners, to the essential hybridizing details that horticulturists need. Here, all five major groups are covered in detail: Siberian, Japanese, Pacific Coast Native, spuria, and Louisiana. The garden uses, development of the modern hybrids, and recommended cultures are given for each of the diverse groups of beardless irises. In addition, a separate chapter covers the techniques for creating your own beardless hybrids. ~ Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Every copy sold by Schreiner’s Iris Gardens has been autographed by the author, Kevin Vaughn.

Gentle Prayers|Betty FletcherGentle Prayers for Hope and Healing” (2013 Betty Fletcher) is a lovely little volume. Now out of print, it is among our personal favorites. (We purchased all available volumes from the publisher – Harvest House.) Tender prayers and comforting verses invite readers facing a physical or emotional trial to the refuge of God’s loving presence. Beautiful photographs of tranquil gardens and nature’s bounty evoke God’s abiding peace while prayers written in first person lead readers to entrust their needs and hopes to God’s care.Gentle Prayers|Betty Fletcher

Whether received as a gift or chosen as a companion for a personal journey, this treasure offers rest, encouragement, sustenance, and a gentle, generous space for refreshment. Many of the photos in this beautifully composed book were taken at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens. ~ Harvest House

 

Guide to Bearded Irises|Kelly NorrisA Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts” (2012 by Kelly Norris) beautifully displays how the diversity of bearded irises rivals that of any other perennial grown in temperate climates. For some gardeners, they bring back warm memories of a grandparent’s garden; for others, they’re a cutting-edge plant with a seemingly endless capacity for producing new forms and patterns.

In this comprehensive and definitive guide, irisarian Kelly Norris provides an accessible yet authoritative overview of these deservedly popular plants. Introductory chapters show how to grow iris successfully, how to use them in the garden, how to choose the best plants, and how to “create” new irises. A Guide to Bearded Irises also provides portraits of the most outstanding plants in each of the six recognized categories, from the dainty miniature dwarf bearded irises to the stately tall bearded irises. A resource section lists specialty nurseries devoted to bearded irises. ~ Timber Press, Inc.

Louisiana IrisesThe Louisiana Iris: The Taming of a Native American Wildflower” (1988, 2000, The Society for Louisiana Irises) This is a revised edition of the first complete reference published on Louisiana irises, the five species of Iris in section Hexagonae. This authoritative treatment by The Society for Louisiana Irises is based on the first edition published by the Society in 1988, but it is considerably expanded. It covers every aspect of the history, botany, and development of these distinctive irises, with particular emphasis on the newest hybrids, hybridizing techniques, and cultural practices, and also includes suggestions for their use in the landscape and in floral arrangements. It should serve to introduce a wider gardening public to these most colorful and versatile flowers. (Excerpt from http://www.louisianas.org)

 

Pacifi NW Garden Tour|Donald OlsonThe Pacific Northwest Garden Tour” (2014, Donald Olson) The Pacific Northwest is full of glorious public gardens, in addition to nurseries and garden centers with display gardens. But how many of them do you know? The delightfully written Pacific Northwest Garden Tour takes you to sixty of the best gardens in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. With an easy-to-use format and enticing photographs, it’s anPacific NW Garden Tour|Donald Olson indispensable companion to one of the lushest garden belts in North America, if not the world. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, you’ll discover little-known gems and rediscover classic gardens—all of them filled with beauty, history, drama, and excitement. ~ Timber Press, Inc. Every copy sold by Schreiner’s Iris Gardens has been autographed by the author, Donald Olson.

The World of Irises|Iris ReferenceThe World of Irises (1978, 1989
Editors: Warburton and Hamblen
Published by The American Iris Society)
494 pages, with 32 pages of color photos. Hardcover.

The official American Iris Society publication that effectively is THE complete modern authoritative source book on Iris. Written for the Iris enthusiast, it contains sections from 34 authors including international authorities covering all phases of Iris both scientific and popular. This book is invaluable for the Iris lover. Still the best Iris reference work currently on the market.

Visit our online “Gift Store” for all of these books, plus lovely Iris-themed gifts.

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!


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Iris Foliage In The Summer Garden

Iris Care|Schreiner's Iris Gardens

Iris foliage in the summer garden

Bearded Iris really offer so much to the mixed perennial garden. The beauty they offer in the spring is uncontested, but we often get questions about what to do with the foliage after the spring bloom has faded. Culturally speaking, the foliage must remain intact through the summer growth phase. The foliage converts the energy to feed the growing rhizomes. Shorter foliage can limit the energy conversion. That said, we ourselves trim the foliage when we prepare our plants for order fulfillment. This practice of trimming foliage is also generally followed when gardeners divide and transplant Iris in their home gardens. The shorter foliage facilitates planting — the long blades of the Iris foliage can often prove too heavy for the newly planted rhizome to bear, causing the plant to become dislodged. Established Iris, of course, with their larger root systems, can bear the weight of the foliage.

Thus, we recommend leaving the foliage untrimmed throughout the summer months. Planted among other summer blooming perennials and shrubs, the vertical lines of the Iris foliage provide a wonderful counterpoint to other forms in your garden. The images here illustrate this point. These photos were taken in our Display Gardens in late July.

 

Iris Care|Schreiner's Iris Gardens

Iris bed in mid-summer. Vertical lines contrast with shorter annuals and greenery.

Back in the summer of 2012, we published a blog post on the subject of planting and trimming Bearded Iris. Take a look here (http://wp.me/p2CLm2-1e) at that post for more details on planting and trimming.

Thank you as always for reading. How do you appreciate the Iris foliage in your garden? Post a comment below.

And take a look at our summer sale and clearance pages. Some really terrific Iris can be had for some super low prices!


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Bearded Iris Grow Strong All Summer Long

Summer days, summer gardens. Most enjoyable. For the Tall Bearded Iris in your garden, summer is also the perfect time to grow, to expand, to be transplanted.

Planting IrisBearded Iris experience two root growth cycles in their annual growing cycle. The springtime growth we all eagerly anticipate in our Iris beds begins with the lengthening of the foliage upward and the root system outward. The rhizome uses its stored-up nutrients.”….As the bud swellings appear in the new fans there is a quickening of the new roots that will supply the plant with nutrients for new growth during and after bloom. The old roots from the previous year’s growth then wither and decay.” ( The World of Irises, p 314)  After the springtime color display of full bloom has passed for the year, the underground development begins in earnest.

The Iris revel in the long summer days. During the six to eight weeks post bloom, the plants absorb the necessary nutrients for next spring’s growth and bloom. The rhizomes send out new increases which will become new self-contained, self-supporting rhizomes by early to mid-July. Once the summer growth is complete, the Iris takes a well-earned rest. Enter the gardener, spade in hand, plan in mind. Now is the time to dig, divide, share and transplant.

HowIrisDivide-webHere, in the Willamette Valley our Iris bloom season ends early- to mid-June. Therefore, at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens, we begin digging our fields early to mid-July. On a smaller scale in your garden, consider digging your Iris to transplant this summer if the clump is three to five years old. Share the divided Iris not only in your own garden, but also with the neighbors, friends and family….garden clubs, retirement homes, 4H clubs, and so on. Allowing Iris clumps to become over grown can lead to poor or no blossoms, smaller and smaller rhizomes, and outbreaks of rhizome-based diseases (such as bacterial soft rot).

Remember that the latest date for transplanting depends on local conditions. Newly planted Iris require a minimum of 6 weeks to set their new roots. Thus, they should be in the ground a minimum of six weeks before the first hard frost. Consult local resources to determine the frost dates in your area.

Dividing Bearded IrisSo, how do you go about digging and dividing the Iris in your garden? Visit our “How to Grow Iris” pages for more details and images on dividing and caring for your Iris! Take a look at another great Iris care resource, “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow“, by Kelly D. Norris.

Iris | Iris Fertilizer

What’s happening in the July garden? To trim or not to trim the foliage…Depending on your location, you may have a handful of lingering Iris blossoms, or all of your bloom stalks might be sporting the papery remains of the seasons’ blooms. When all blossoms on the stalks have finished, carefully trim the bloom stalk at its base. Leave all green foliage, though, in place. They offer an elegant vertical visual throughout the garden. You may remove any browned and dry leaves. Keep the Iris beds clean and free of weeds. Well-established Iris plants are drought tolerant. Newly planted Iris, though, do require a good long drink approximately every 7 to 10 days if the weather is very dry. Reblooming Iris also prefer irrigation between the spring bloom and summer/autumn re-bloom times. We recommend an application of a low-nitrogen fertilizer (such as 6-10-10) approximately one month after blooms have finished. Superphosphate and bonemeal also work well as a fertilizer for Iris.

Discount IrisSummer brings the promise of long days enjoying our gardens and all aspects of our lives. The season also brings with it our annual Summer Sale. You’ll find over 300 varieties of Tall Bearded Iris at deeply discounted prices.


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Sultry July Nights in the Iris Garden

Hot summer nights. Hot summer days. Sultry summer afternoons….. Perfect for dreaming, for transformation. For the Iris in your garden, it’s the perfect time to grow, to expand, to be transplanted.

DenseClump-webThe single Iris rhizome you planted last summer has transformed even in just one year, promising an even greater display come next spring. Here’s how: Bearded Iris experience two root growth cycles in their annual growing cycle. The springtime growth we all eagerly anticipate in our Iris beds begins with the lengthening of the foliage upward and the root system outward. The rhizome uses its stored-up nutrients.  Borrowing from Ben Hager, who writes in his chapter on Bearded Iris propagation in The World of Irises, “….as the bud swellings appear in the new fans there is a quickening of the new roots that will supply the plant with nutrients for new growth during and after bloom. The old roots from the previous year’s growth then wither and decay.” (p 314)  The springtime growth of the Iris, from bud to past bloom, is largely above ground… thankfully for us gardeners who eat up the sight with our winter-weary eyes. After the color display of full bloom has passed for the year, the underground development begins in earnest.

The Iris revel in the long summer days. During the six to eight weeks post bloom, the plants absorb the necessary nutrients for next spring’s growth and bloom. The rhizomes send out new increases which will become new self-contained, self-supporting rhizomes by the end of the summer. Once the summer growth is complete, the Iris takes a well-earned rest. Then gardeners eager to expand their Iris empire can begin to think about dividing older Iris clumps and transplanting the new rhizomes.

HowIrisDivide-webThe Iris rhizome has reached full maturity as the sultry July days, the dog days of August arrive; summer dormancy has set in. Here, in the Willamette Valley our Iris bloom season ends early to mid June. Therefore, at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens, we begin digging our fields early to mid-July. We are “transplanting” our Iris all over the world. On a smaller scale in your garden, consider digging your Iris to transplant if the clump is three to five years old. Overgrown clumps can lead to poor or no flowering habits, smaller and smaller rhizomes, and outbreaks of rhizome-based diseases (such as bacterial soft rot). Share the divided Iris not only in your own garden, but also with the neighbors, friends and family….garden clubs, retirement homes, 4H clubs, and so on.  Remember that the latest date for transplanting depends on local conditions. Newly planted Iris require a minimum of 6 weeks to set their new roots. Thus, they should be in the ground a minimum of six weeks before the first hard frost. Consult local resources to determine the frost dates in your area.

So, how do you go about digging and dividing the Iris in your garden? Visit our “How to Grow Iris” pages for more details and images on dividing and caring for your Iris! Take a look at another great Iris care resource, “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow“, by Kelly D. Norris.

~ Happy Gardening!

 

Dwarf Iris, Schreiner's Iris Gardens


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Consider the Early Blooming Iris…and then some…

Dwarf Iris, Schreiner's Iris Gardens

Dwarf Iris bed around base of tree, Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Easy to plant, easy to care for, easy to enjoy! That is the Iris. And such variety too! Variety of size, variety of bloom season, variety of color, variety of style. Isn’t success in life all about the choices we make? That simple maxim can apply to the realm of the flower garden too. The Iris offer such a host of choices, one is surely to find just the right color, or size, etc. Let’s talk about the breadth of bloom time, for example. The Miniature Dwarf Iris and the Standard Dwarf Iris are among the very first Iris to bloom. Weather depending, of course, they open up their diminutive blossoms, just 5 to 15 inches in height, approximately mid-March to early April (in most temperate zones), heralding the launch of another promising Iris season. On the heals of the waning Dwarf Iris, the Intermediate, Median, or Border Iris open on the garden scene. A bit taller than the tallest Dwarf, yet slightly shorter than the shortest Tall Bearded Iris, these intermediaries offer brilliant bloom to span the gap between March and May, a beautiful compliment to the Cherry blossoms! The earliest blooming Tall Bearded Iris will overlap with the later-blooming Intermediate Iris, to create a seamless floral transition of color. Sprinkle in several mid-season and late-season Tall Bearded Iris around your garden, and the color show continues well into June.

Purple Paws, Paul Black 2014

Purple Paws, Standard Dwarf Bearded
Black 2014

Let’s have a few more words about these Dwarf Iris, though. The Hungarian language has a saying, “The pepper corn is small, but mighty.” (Kicsi a bors, de erős.) The same can be said about these Iris of smaller stature. They are no less hardy than their taller, more robust cousins. Dwarf Iris, both Miniature and Standard types, propagate with strength and, once in bloom, stand up to the early spring frosts. There are several wonderful resources available which provide great detail on the origins of these hybrids (quite fascinating, really). The Dwarf Iris Society is a good place to start for further links and leads on exploring the subject. Several Iris breeders today have introduced spectacular Bearded Iris cultivars in miniature. Among them is our very own friend and neighbor, Paul Black of Mid-America Gardens in Salem, Oregon. Schreiner’s Iris Gardens is proud to introduce five new Dwarf hybrids by Black this year: Purple Paws, Fire, Fruit Cup, Web of Desire, and April Fanfare. All five are classified as Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris.

A few moments spent even casually mapping out the succession of Iris blooms in your garden will yield months of rainbow color from your ankles to above your hips! Dwarf, Intermediate, Tall Bearded, as well as Beardless Iris, are all planted in the summer months. Below is a simple chart, indicating approximate bloom times for Iris ranging from the Miniature Dwarf to the Tall Bearded, and including the Beardless Iris such as Siberian and Louisiana. Bloom time is greatly dependent on weather conditions and gardening practices, however. For example, Reblooming Iris require regular fertilization and dividing.

March

April

May

June

July/Aug/Sept/Oct

Min. Dwf. & Std. Dwf.

(5″ to 15″; 5cm to 28cm)

Inter. & Border

(16″ to 27″; 40cm to 68cm)

Tall Bearded

(28″ to 48″;70cm to 122cm)

Tall Bearded & Beardless

Reblooming Bearded Iris of all sizes

Music, Keith Keppel 1999

Music, Standard Dwarf Bearded
Keith Keppel, 1999

If you are one who can hardly wait for the year’s Iris season to start, you have merely to plant some Dwarf Bearded Iris this summer. You will have Iris blooming with the first inkling of spring warmth. As Barbara Whitehouse and Bee Warburton write in their chapter entitled “Miniature Dwarf Beardeds”, in The World of Irises, (The American Iris Society, 1986) “…each iris lover should grow at least one or two clumps of them …. However, they are so charming that one or two clumps may ultimately become a whole bed or border.” (pg 145)…. And even if you consider yourself simply a fan, a dabbler, a curious gardening newbie to the world of flowers, give the Dwarf Iris a try!

~Happy Spring and Happy Gardening!

What to do in the Iris garden this month…..read more on our site.


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Iridaceous Pink Artistry, Iris Winter Care, and Bulbs vs Rhizomes

Winter Iris Care  Does your Iris bed look like this right nowbearded-iris-in-snow…. under a foot of snow? Iris beds covered in a blanket of snow need no care at this time. Let nature’s insulator do its job.

bearded-iris-bedOr maybe they look something like this….a tangled mess of decayed leaves? Well, even though it’s not an ideal sight, don’t be ashamed. Let’s talk about how to remedy the situation.

If you have a garden that boasts bare ground right about now, you most likely are also starting to see signs of spring – along with the darling and beloved daffodil, tulip and hyacinth shoots, weeds and grass blades are also emerging. Now is a good time to dote upon the forgotten Iris bed, and trim back the dead, decayed foliage. If the leaves are droopy, brownish-gray — completely lifeless — then gently tear them off at the base, like a sheet of notebook paper from its spiral. If the leaves are still sturdy and green, trim those down to below any evidence of leaf spot.

Clear away the debris from the beds, pick out the emerging weeds, if any, from the soft soil. You might spray a preventative fungicide at this point, as well. Follow all manufacture’s recommendations carefully. If you anticipate another freeze in your area, you can lay evergreen boughs or straw over your newly-cleaned out Iris beds for added protection until the spring temperatures return in earnest. At which time, you will remove any covering. Remember, rhizomes grow close to the surface and want to feel that sunshine. Bearded Iris can be very forgiving, largely due to their very sturdy nature.

Bulbs vs. RhizomesDenseClump-web

Just a short two bits on the distinction between two of the methods herbaceous perennials (including Bearded Iris) utilize for food storage…. Plants have evolved several methods of storing food so that they can spring to life when the conditions are right, bulbs and rhizomes among them. The definition of a bulb is any plant that stores its complete life cycle in an underground storage structure. The “food” is converted sunshine, collected through the leaves through photosynthesis, and carried into the “larder”. Only some of the plants commonly called bulbs actually are bulbs. Bearded Iris, although falling into the above definition, develop a storage structure known as a rhizome (really an underground “stem”). The rhizome is the larder for nutrients that give the plant the energy it needs to grow, bloom, and complete its life cycle. Trimming the Iris foliage too early deprives the plant of its food intake.  Rhizomes grow horizontally just under the surface of the soil which is why they must be planted shallowly, in soil with good drainage.

Peggy Sue with Lilies and Echinacea

Send Iris the promise of Iris…with our annual Sweetheart Iris Collection!

Celebrate the passion of Valentine’s Day all over again during Iris bloom season. Send these five radiant Tall Bearded Iris to your sweetheart, or invite them into your own heart (and garden)* with our annual  Sweetheart Iris Collection.
These five sweet beauties offer wonderful discount and a lovely array of pink, just screaming out, “Be Mine!”

Only $49.95 (plus s/h)

(*We ship our freshly dug Iris July – September)

Thank you to the following websites for the succinct information on bulbs and herbaceous perennials: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/bulbs/bulbbasics.cfm and http://healthyhomegardening.com/Blog.php?pid=105

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