For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens


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Perfectly Planning Pretty Plantings

Ms. Holland Spicker has once again assembled a perfect planning guide for companions in your Iris bed, this time for the pinks, reds and purples. Her use of collages of color and plants makes planning your decorative garden, and your next order of plants, super simple.

You might also take a peek at our Bearded Iris planting guide pages found on our website.

Happy planning!

The Schreiner Family

By Susanne Holland Spicker’RED SKIES’ (Ghio ’07)”The garden: Where inspiration and creativity begins and it never ends”This time of year I like to pause and evaluate the previous gardening year. By now in zone 6 the irises have been divided or transplanted into new areas. Perennials were planted in the fall. Poor performers have been moved…

via “Talking Irises” TALL BEARDED IRISES: COMPANION PLANTS for PINK, RED, and PURPLE IRISES — World of Irises


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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.

March

April

May

June

July/Aug/Sept/Oct

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…..read more on our site.


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Shades, Tones and Tints in the Iris Garden

Tall Bearded Iris|Schreiner's Iris GardensThe idea of a monochromatic garden isn’t a new one, but it is a good one. Good enough to justify republishing this blog post, even. This time, though, we have another link for you to investigate. Blogger Susanne Holland Spicker recently published a visually fantastic description of monochromatic Iris plantings on the American Iris Society’s blog “World of Irises”. Click to read Ms. Holland Spicker’s post, “The Blue Iris Garden“.

Bearded Iris represent the full spectrum of the rainbow. Planting a full range of colors in your garden brings brightness and variety to the scene. Some of us like the mixed up rainbow effect, others like to plant in tidy, organized blocks of color. Building upon the idea of uniform color blocks,  below we present the idea of planting an area using a monochromatic theme. Monochromatic color schemes are derived from a single base hue, then extended using its shades, tones and tints…. As a result, the energy is more subtle and peaceful due to a lack of contrast of hue.* Iris blossoms in shades and tones of a single base hue move the eyes from dark to bright and back again.

Let’s take purple as an easy example. The range of purples in the Bearded Iris family seemingly defy notation. Nevertheless, here is just a sample of Iris falling into the purple spectrum.

Tall Bearded Iris|Schreiner's Iris GardensVarieties featured above from left to right: Badlands, Rosalie Figge, Rhinelander, Excuse Me Darling, Feature Attraction, Royal Sterling, Fancy Stuff

Here is another example of reds lightening to pinks:

Tall Bearded Iris|Schreiner's Iris GardensVarieties featured above from left to right: Infrared, Red Hawk, Code Red, Dance The Night Away, Annabelle Rose, Power Point, Drifting Bubbles

A fun idea for an extreme garden might be the exclusive use of black and white! The Tall Bearded Iris shown below all have a registered bloom season of mid-to-late. When these Iris are planted in proximity, 12 to 18 inches apart, and with simultaneous bloom time, you are sure to enjoy the full impact of the color contrast.

Schreiner's Iris Gardens|Bearded IrisVarieties featured above from left to right: Raven Girl, Immortality, Black Is Black, Winter Waltz, Black Suited, Angelwalker

Keep in mind, when creating a visual spectrum in the garden, you many wish to choose Iris that bloom at the same time. The Iris pictured above were chosen only for their color for purposes of illustration. When selecting Iris for your garden design, pay particular attention to their listed bloom season. Also, keep in mind that Iris will bloom at slightly different times depending on the weather and climate in your area.

The possibilities are endless. The wonderful thing about gardening is that you can always change things up. Experiment, have fun, let your creative spirit loose!

P.S. Share images of the results of your garden design on Schreiner’s Gardens’ Facebook page.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monochromatic_color


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Reblooming Iris: Just can’t get enough! Ooo!

Best Best and Eternal Bliss (white) with Rudbeckia

These are for you, mom!
Best Best and Eternal Bliss (white) with Rudbeckia ©

Imagine yourself next summer, the heat of July warming your face as you gaze across your garden, colorful perennials dot the landscape… but you’re thinking back to springtime, May, when your glorious Iris were in full bloom. Nothing compares… But wait! Consider this: a second bloom season for Iris. Yes, reblooming Iris hold the promise of reliving the spring time bloom in the middle of summer!

Scanning the summer garden, speckled with the hues of phlox, cone flowers, daisies, lilies and the like, my heart skips a beat as I catch sight of a Tall Bearded Iris! A delightful surprise in the midst of the late summer bloomers. It’s one thing to take in the wash of color in a garden full of Iris at peak bloom in May; it’s quite another to find a lone flag, so seemingly out of time and place, among the rudbekia!

As with any gift of nature, there are caveats. Reblooming Iris, while so satisfying when they produce bloom in July, August, September and even into October, do not bloom on command. Their remontancy is dependent upon multiple factors: soil conditions, weather, gardening practices, to name a few. Rebloomers need extra fertilizing (low in nitrogen, 5-10-10) and water compared to their single-bloom cousins. The plant’s own genetics, of course, play a strong role as well. Varieties of Iris that rebloom consistently here in the Willamette Valley (here is a partial list) may exhibit different behavior in other locales. Just as there are varieties of Iris that do not bloom every year in the spring bloom season, so is the case with summer re-bloom.

But when it all comes together… Wow! These bonus blossoms just scream to be united with pink and red lilies, flounces of phlox, fist-fulls of Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) — anything blooming nearby. Rich summer bouquets can take shape before your eyes. Here are several of my favorites from a recent jaunt through the garden.

Autumn Jester (a Dwarf Iris) with Daisy

Autumn Jester (a Dwarf Iris) with Daisy ©

Pictured above a charming reblooming Dwarf Iris, Autumn Jester, cozies up to its little companion daisy. Wouldn’t this be lovely blooming among the snapdragons and pansies along a low summer border? Below, the pinks pack a punch. Peggy Sue mixes with the lovely lilies and echinacea for a sight so divine.

Peggy Sue with Lilies and Echinacea

Peggy Sue with Lilies and Echinacea ©

Pure As Gold and Immortality (white) with Daisies and Thistle

Pure As Gold and Immortality (white) with Daisies and Thistle ©

Pure As Gold mixes with Immortality, above, continuing the white-yellow theme carried by the daisies. The hosta leaf and blue thistles provide pleasing contrast to the bunch. “Cowslip” sneaks in a bit of summer informality….

Ominous Stranger with Cedar branches and Thistle

Ominous Stranger with Cedar branches and Thistle ©

Ominous Stranger, above, blends harmoniously with sprigs of cedar and blue thistles. Below, October Sky loves the phlox, verbena and hosta. Best Bet contrasts with rudbeckia.

October Sky (in vase) and Best Bet (on cloth) with Phlox, Verbena, Hosta and Rudbeckia

October Sky (in vase) with Phlox, Verbena, and Hosta;  Best Best (on cloth) with Rudbeckia ©

Selecting the varieties of reblooming Iris for your garden which will be successful in your area of the country (or the world), is a matter of trial and error. The rebloom is a bonus. At the very least, you will enjoy one season of bloom in the springtime. Give it a try!

The Reblooming Iris Society offers a plethora of information on the development and care of Iris that rebloom. Start with their page offering tips for growing rebloomers, then explore the greater site for more information.

Three Dwarf Iris arranged with Daisies: Blueberry Tart (left), Forever Blue (center), and Autumn Jester (right)

Three Dwarf Iris arranged with Daisies: Blueberry Tart (left), Forever Blue (center), and Autumn Jester (right) ©

Have you planted reblooming Iris in your garden? Tell us about your trials, errors and successes. Please include your geographic area as well.

P.S. And speaking of geographic area, take a look at our Iris order date cut-off map for information on the last date to order Iris to ship to your neck of the woods.

 

© 2013 SCHREINER’S IRIS GARDENS. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying or use of this blog’s content is prohibited without prior written permission.


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Saving Overgrown Iris

Nature happens....

Nature happens….

Let’s say a friend told you about this patch of once-lovely Iris which has become completely engulfed by grass… (or maybe that friend is you…) You tell your “friend” that her situation reminds you of something you once read by Sara Stein*: “I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border. I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.”

July, August and, in some areas, September, is the time to assess the situation in your Bearded Iris garden, and rectify the misunderstanding you might have with Nature. If it’s been a few years (say three to five) since you planted your Iris, it is likely that the clusters have grown, and over-grown, themselves into a large mass of rhizomes 12 to 24 inches wide. If you are (or know of) that friend described above, fear not. If you see foliage above the blanket of grass, the Iris can be saved! Read on.

Before you reach for the shovel, though, let’s review some tips on dividing and transplanting the new Iris babies.

Iris Identity: If you have your Iris labeled, you will want to label all of its babies. Prepare tags of some sort to help you keep track of what you are transplanting and where. If you haven’t labeled the Iris in your garden, then proceed unfettered by the bondage of labels….

Digging the clumps: Depending on how densely packed the Iris clump is, you may wish to dig up the entire mass and work on it out of the ground. In the case of the clumps overgrown with grass, you’re best bet is to dig up the whole shebang. Carefully pull the soil and grass away from the rhizomes and roots so that you can see what you’re dealing with. Take care to remove as many of the grass roots as possible. Once cleaned up, you will likely find that the mass of Iris resembles a tangle of fresh ginger, or small oblong potatoes, some of which will have fresh green foliage attached.

bearded iris|growing iris

New growth on left and right of spent rhizome

Separating the plants: The rhizomes with the foliage are the plants you will keep. Any rhizome which has no foliage is “spent”, and will not bloom again. It can be discarded. At this point, you can decide how many of these new plants you’d like to replant. Some of the new growth may yet be quite small, the size of a cherry. These are called “nubs”, and will have tiny green leaves. You can plant these, but expect possibly two years at least before you see any blooms.

To separate, carefully snap or slice the rhizomes at the junction between the old plant and the new growth. Take care to disentangle the roots so that the new plants retain their set of roots.

Cut or break off new growth from original rhizome

Cut or break off new growth from original rhizome

If the foliage on the new plant is very tall, you can trim it back to 6 inches to make transplanting easier.

Prepare soil for transplants: For the area where you intend to plant the new growth, dig up the soil 6 to 12 inches deep, remove weed sprouts, mix in some organic mulch or a low-nitrogen fertilizer (follow manufacturer’s recommendations for quantity and ratio) to give the soil a nutritional boost. Break up large clumps of soil and smooth out the area. Plant your new iris so that the roots are covered but the top of the rhizome is showing above the surface of the soil.

Water in: Water at the time of transplanting. Newly set plants need moisture to help their root systems become established. Specific watering requirements depend on your climate and soil, but keep in mind that deep watering at long intervals is better than more frequent, shallow watering. Once established, Iris normally don’t need to be watered except in arid areas. It is always better to underwater than over water. Too much water can induce rot.

What to do if you have more Iris shoots than you know what to do with: Consider donating the extra plants (labeled or unlabeled) to a nursing home, school, or community center in your area. You can also check with your neighbors to see if they’d like any of the offspring.

Getting ready to divide your Iris? Tell us what you do with the extras. We’d love to read your comments.

*Sara Stein, influential advocate for gardening with native plants, and author of “Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards” (Houghton Mifflin, 1993).