By Bryce Williamson
White. A color so important in the garden and so often ignored. I would shock people when giving judges’ training with the idea that the two most important colors in the iris garden were yellow and white. I stick to that position—yellow bring a shaft of sunlight into the garden and whites are…
By Susanne Holland Spicker (Irises from l to r) ‘EXTRAVAGANT’ (Hamblin’84), ‘JUMP FOR JOY’ (Hager ’99), ‘CELEBRATION SONG’ (Schreiner ’93), ‘POEM OF ECSTASY’ (Hager ’97) with giant allium, ruffled poppy, roses and lupine make a colorful floral piece to beautify and bring the garden insideI have…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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)
(28″ to 48″;70cm to 122cm)
Tall Bearded & Beardless
Reblooming Bearded Iris of all sizes
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!
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.
Back in the summer of 2012, we published a blog post on the subject of planting and trimming Bearded Iris. Take a look here 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!
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.
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.”….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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Summer 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.
The 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.
Here is another example of reds lightening to pinks:
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.
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.