As tulips and daffodils begin to fade in our gardens a tall spiky flower can be seen emerging around homes and in flower beds. Irises are perfect for beginner gardeners and experienced green thumbs alike! The hardy flowers are not difficult to grow and do well in a wide range of climates, being relatively drought-tolerant and low maintenance.
How many varieties of Irises are there?
If you are interested in planting irises or have some growing in your yard it might surprise you that there are up to 300 varieties! Wikipedia states “Irises are perennial plants, growing from creeping rhizomes (rhizomatous irises) or, in drier climates, from bulbs (bulbous irises). They have long, erect flowering stems which may be simple or branched, solid or hollow, and flattened or have a circular cross-section. The rhizomatous species usually have 3–10 basal sword-shaped leaves growing in dense clumps. The bulbous species have cylindrical, basal leaves.
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A great book that has a lot of information can be found HERE
Why Siberian Irises are my favorite
As you can see it would be hard to pick a favorite with that many varieties but I do have a favorite that just happens to be one of the easiest irises to grow.
Siberian Irises are described in The Farmer’s Almanac as easier to grow than many other irises with very little care! Along with the beautiful shade of blue of the flower, the foliage resembles spikes of grass, which adds interest to your garden even when not blooming.
Best Growing Conditions
If you live in any zone between 2-9 based on USDA you can grow this type of iris. In the northern zones plant this iris in full sun, which is where I planted it when we lived in Fryburg. Where seasons are a bit warmer than NW PA you can easily plant in an area that is lightly shaded. In hot southern areas, Siberian irises can still be grown however it’s best to plant in a shady location. Depending on how hot your area gets it’s good to keep them watered when temperatures get extremely warm. The iris will tolerate dry periods.
How to Plant
I have to confess when I received my clump of irises years ago in a plastic shopping bag we just planted them in a sunny but somewhat wet area. Little did we know that this was the perfect place. If you are lucky enough to receive some plants this way you can plant them in your garden spot and just keep them watered for a week or so to get them established. If you are planting them as rhizomes ( bulbs) you just need to be sure to plant them 1-inch below the soil level and cover them with soil. Making a small hill of soil & placing the iris rhizome in this spot also helps them to grow by spreading out the roots.
Even in the Siberian Iris family, there are many varieties and by planting several different ones you can have a longer blooming season. Although I do not know the actual variety I have I do know that I can see blooming at the end of May or the beginning of June. Depending on how big your bed of irises is you can see continual blooms for at least 2 weeks with even just one variety.
This iris can grow between 2-4 feet; mine seem to be around 2 feet. It can hold up under most weather conditions. Once the blooms start don’t hesitate to clip a few. They make a beautiful cut flower. Mix in a few pink peonies that might be blooming at the same time and you will have a beautiful bouquet!
When we packed up to move to Virginia I made a special trip to dig up a few of my irises and I am happy to report that I have blooms just beginning this week!
I certainly hope you give this special flower a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
A couple great links to learn more about this flower: