For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens


Annual Iris Naming Contest 2016



B857-C is nice, but I need a proper name!

Each October we select one of our seedlings, never before introduced, to be named by you, our fellow Iris enthusiasts. This year’s candidate is a purple and white seedling, very logically (although unimaginatively) named B857-C. This purple-bearded delight stands 33 inches tall and blooms mid-to-late season. CONTEST NOW CLOSED. Thank you for your interest. Look for next year’s contest in October 2017.

Contest open to US residents only. Entry deadline is 9:00 p.m. Pacific, Wednesday, October 26, 2016.  The winner will receive one plant of the named Iris (shipped summer 2017) and a $25 gift certificate to Schreiner’s Iris Gardens (mailed with a copy of the 2017 catalog in the spring of 2017).

The contest winner will be notified via email in early November.

Sharing our passion for Iris,
The Schreiner Family

Images in this blog are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of the copyright holders Schreiner’s Iris Gardens.



Consider the Early Blooming Iris

Dwarf Bearded Iris|Heather Carpet

Standard Dwarf Bearded Iris, Heather Carpet (Chapman, 1999), hugs  a garden path.

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.

Intermediate Iris|Schreiner's Iris Gardens

Intermediate and Border Bearded Iris blooming at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Weep not for the fading Dwarf Iris! For the Intermediate, Median, or Border Iris are opening on the garden scene. A bit taller than the tallest Dwarf, yet shorter than the shortest Tall Bearded Iris, they offer brilliant bloom to span the gap between March and May, a beautiful complement 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.

Dwarf Bearded Iris|Gold CanaryLet’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.

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.






Min. Dwf. & Std. Dwf.

(5″ to 15″; 5cm to 28cm)

Intermediates & 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

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)….

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. 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!

Do you grow Dwarf Iris? Share your comments below!

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


The Winner of the 2015 American Iris Society’s Dyke’s Medal Is …

The American Iris Society annually awards its highest distinction to one outstanding Iris. This year our close friend and Iris breeding associate, Mr. Keith Keppel of Salem, Oregon, is the esteemed recipient of the 2015 Dyke’s Medal for his dynamic and debonair, “Gypsy Lord”.

Tall Bearded Iris|Gypsy Lord

“Gypsy Lord”, Keith Keppel, 2006

Learn more about the American Iris Society and the annual Iris judging at their website

Congratulations Keith from all of us here at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens!

Shop our End-of-Summer Clearance on Tall Bearded Iris!


“Stepping Out” Celebrates 50th Birthday!

Introduced by the Schreiner family in 1964, Stepping Out quickly became a popular garden Iris. This superb plicata specimen could be found in the Top 10 of the American Iris Society‘s “100 Most Popular Bearded Iris” list year after year. And it’s no surprise why! Stepping Out, a rich violet and white plicata, strikingly picoteed, was awarded the AIS Honorable Mention medal in 1965, the AIS Award of Merit in 1967, and the premium award for a Bearded Iris, the Dykes Medal, in 1968. We are proud to celebrate Stepping Out’s 50th birthday this year!

Stepping Out Schreiner 1964

Stepping Out
Schreiner 1964


Horns, Spoons and Flounces! Say What?

"Wings At Dawn", winner 2013 Iris Naming Contest

“Wings At Dawn”, winner 2013 Iris Naming Contest

We congratulate William Shear of Virginia on his winning entry in this year’s Iris Naming Contest, “Wings At Dawn”. The flounces at the tips of the sunny beards of this all-new introduction for 2014 lift away like birds at daybreak. Mr. Shear will receive a $25 gift certificate to Schreiner’s Iris Gardens and one rhizome of “Wings At Dawn”. We thank all who submitted entries for the 2013 Iris Naming Contest.

Selecting one name from the hundreds of creative and thoughtful suggestions is never an easy task and is truly a group effort. We were drawn to the name that best reflected the perceived motion of the flounces lifting away from the standards. The appendages on this radiant beauty were pure happenstance, according to Ray Schreiner; it was not intentionally bred. The story of the intentional breeding of Iris sporting horns, spoons and flounces reveals a bit of serendipity as well. Read on….

1960 Catalog Cover from Lloyd Austin's Iris Gardens

1960 Catalog Cover from Lloyd Austin’s Iris Gardens

The odd protrusions from the tips of the beards, once decried by some Irisarians as “monstrosities”, were launched into the Iris breeding world and landed themselves a spot in Iris history in the early 1950’s. The late Lloyd Austin (1898-1963) cultivated the Iris oddities, hatching the idea after a fortuitous visit to the gardens of Sydney Mitchell (1878-1951) in Placerville, CA in the late 1940’s. (This is the very same Mitchell after whom the American Iris Society’s “Sydney B. Mitchel Medal” is named.) The story goes that Mitchell  had no interest in these errant traits among his Iris crosses, and willingly offered the seedlings to his friend. Mr. Austin worked with these unique seedlings, crossing them at his gardens, until he achieved the horns, spoons and flounces and even double appendages at the ends of the beards, thus launching the niche of the “Space Age” Iris. Lloyd Austin’s first horned introduction was “Unicorn” in 1954. Throughout the 1960’s, Lloyd Austin promoted the unusually adorned Iris through his colorful catalogs (see image). Check this link for more on the story of Lloyd Austin and his 1954 debut with “Unicorn” on the American Iris Society’s “World of Irises” blog.

Mesmerizer, Monty Byers 1991

Mesmerizer, Monty Byers 1991

Several breeders have carried on the “space” program with great success, despite the opinion still maintained by some Irisarians that these appendages are a distraction or unpleasant. The late Monty Byers, for starters, introduced several award-winning winged, horned or spooned Iris over the years. Take a look at Thornbird (Dykes Medal 1997), Conjuration (Dykes Medal 1998), and Mesmerizer (Dykes Medal 2002) for starters. Lawrence Ransom (“Punk”, 1998; “Three Two One Lift Off”, 2008) and Tom Burseen (“I Wuv Woses”, 2008) also have bred wonderful, fun “space agers”.

Again, thank you to all who submitted entries in this year’s Iris Naming Contest. Try your luck again next year. Look for the contest announcement in the Fall of 2014.

And thank you for choosing Schreiner’s Iris Gardens! We are so very grateful to all of our fans, customers and acquaintances. Happy Thanksgiving!

The above information on the birth of “space age” iris was adapted from passages from the World of Irises, and publications by Kelly Norris (A Guide to Bearded Irises), and William Shear (The Gardener’s Iris Book – out of print).


Summer Around the Gardens

Day Lilies brighten our summer garden

Day Lilies brighten our summer garden

July – that quintessential “summer” month. This middle month of summer seems to hold an abundance of potential… for projects, vacations, gardening, and camps. Don’t we find ourselves wondering how we could cram more into these 31 days? June is too early, and by August we already feel the end of summer.

July is a busy month around the gardens here as well. We go full-swing into our digging and shipping mode. The buildings are fitted with various conveyor belts for sorting, cleaning, tagging and packing the Iris for delivery to retail and wholesale customers. The fields of Iris, waves of colorful bloom just a month ago, now yield themselves to the crews and diggers. Trucks come and go, loaded with thousands of orders of Iris.

Preparing gardens for replanting

Preparing gardens for replanting

This year is an exciting year for our display garden. We replant our gardens every three to five years. This summer, in preparation for the American Iris Society convention to be held up the road in Portland in May 2015, we will completely replant our 10-acre display garden. Our dedicated, and very hard-working, crew seems to make light work of this tremendous task!

If you are also feeling ambitious and energetic this middle-month of summer, you may also wish to revamp your Iris beds. Perhaps it’s time to divide the older clumps of bearded Iris, expand their colorful glory through replanting the new growth in more sunny corners of the garden – or by sharing them with friends and neighbors to plant in their gardens. Here’s an idea: if you find yourself with an abundance of new growth from your Iris clumps, consider donating them to a nursing home, school, or community center; plant them along the edge of a community garden, or check with your city’s parks and rec department about planting them in your local city park.


Replanted display gardens


Dividing Bearded Iris clumps

We offer detailed and illustrated instructions on thinning and replanting Iris clumps on the “How to Grow & Care for Iris” pages of our website. Take a look at the monthly Iris care guides while you’re there.

Whether planting new Iris or thinning old clumps, you’ll want to have a good fertilizer on hand. Bonemeal and super-phosphate (available at your local garden center) are both good choices. A fertilizer low in nitrogen (5-10-10 or 6-10-10) is also a good option. We offer a one-pound bag of specially formulated Iris food on our website.

Whether choosing to “get ‘er done” or put your feet up for a well-deserved break this July, we wish you a pleasant and memorable summer.

P.S. There’s still time to order for planting Iris this summer. Check out our Summer Sale!


Iris On My Mind


Ponder the Iris — the earthbound rainbow

If you grow Iris, or think about Iris, or know someone who grows or thinks about Iris, then you know that  Bearded Iris are among the easiest perennials a person can have the pleasure of planting around their home. Iris are determined plants, duplicating themselves each year, tenaciously rooting themselves in soil, asking little in return by means of water and grooming. They will reward over and over, painting great splashes of color wherever they bloom.  But don’t take our word for it (granted, we might be a bit biased)…….

Blogs and newsletters abound espousing the benefits of the Bearded Iris, including their history, culture and more. Societies dedicated to the growing and improvement of Iris exist at the local, national and international level. You might consider joining such a society to learn more about the Iris, and meet other gardeners like yourself. Or if you’re the self-study type, perhaps you’d like reading up on the Iris in a variety of very informative books on the subject. (We carry three such books in our catalog.) You may wish to locate an Iris society in your area and subscribe to their newsletter too. Here we’ve compiled a short list of internet sources offering more information and discussion about the world of the Bearded Iris. This list just scratches the surface, but it will get you started. Our apologies to those we did not include. Nothing personal. Feel free to submit additional links to Iris discussion and education sites in the comment section below!

American Iris Society:  on Facebook , and on Twitter (@TweetAIS), World of Irises blog (various contributors, wonderful photos), Tall Bearded Iris Society,  Median Iris Society (all about the mid-sized Iris, including the Median Iris, Table Iris and Intermediate Bearded Iris),  Dwarf Iris Society (dedicated to the growing, improvement and discussion of the smallest Iris, including Miniature Dwarf Bearded  Iris and Standard Dwarf Bearded iris).

Bloom Season 2013 May 10 to June 2

Bloom Season 2013
May 10 to June 2