For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens


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



Planting & Trimming Iris: The long and short of it

First, let’s be clear: we are referring to Bearded Iris in this discussion. The myriad of other lovely Iris varieties come with their own set of operating instructions.

Our last two blog posts generated a number of very worthwhile questions. After doing a bit of reading on the subject, I came across a couple of useful bits of information. The first is a series of photos on planting Bearded Iris, see below. These come from William Shear’s, “The Gardener’s Iris Book” (Taunton Press, 1998), page 43. How deep should the rhizome be? We are in agreement with Mr. Shear on this question. “It depends,” he writes. “In light-textured soils, it can be covered by as much as 1 (one) inch of soil, but for average to heavier soils, the top of the rhizome is best left exposed to the healthful influences of sun and air. Remember that the rhizome is a stem, not a root, and needs to breathe!” You can see in the third photo below that the top of the rhizome is still peeking through the soil.

Steps for Planting Bearded Iris, “The Gardener’s Iris Book”, pg 43.

On the subject of trimming the foliage, I found a bit of tidy wisdom, the kind you keep clipped into your pocketbook, or saved on our phone, for easy reference. This comes from, “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow”, by Kelly Norris (Timber Press, 2012).  In his myth-busting section he addresses the question of trimming.  “Myth: Bearded irises are so much work. You have to trim the foliage back every summer!” Mr. Norris reassures us that in fact this may be an “unnecessary chore”.  There is no real need to trim the foliage in the summer, except that during dividing and transplanting shorter foliage eases the handling of the plants. He reminds readers that “needlessly trimming the foliage back in the middle of the season actually breaks an iris’s dormancy, kick-starting foliar production. This can take away from root mass accumulation and even from reserves meant to support flowering the next spring.”

The long and short of it is to plant shallow and leave the leaves alone. Thanks for reading and happy gardening!