Garden Clippings for June 10, 2017

Those who wish to bring back memories of grandmothers or even great grandmothers may want to plant Iris because they, along with Hollyhocks and Delphiniums are perhaps the most old fashioned of all perennial flowers.  And it is no wonder that Iris were grandmother’s favorite, because they are easy to grow, live forever, and have a most interesting bloom.

Take a close look at the bloom of Iris and you will be amazed.  Their intricate bloom, mostly in purple, blue and lavender lasts only a few weeks, but put on a glorious show.  And when the show is over and flowers have faded, the remaining broad grass like foliage looks just fine, particularly when companioned with more delicately fine foliaged plants.

There is a dizzying array of Iris varieties available which can make choosing Iris difficult.,  The two main categories of Iris are Bearded and Siberian are quite similar until you see them side by side.  Both can reach heights of nearly 3 feet.

Bearded Iris, likely the oldest fashioned looking, has broad leaves about 2 inches wide.  The flowers’ lower petals are more pronounced, with a fuzzy beard in the centre.  Bearded Iris is easy to grow, need full sun and will develop into a large clump over time.  Bloom colour is pink, blue, yellow and purple.

Siberian Iris is a little more delicate looking with narrower foliage with flowers that don’t have noticeable fuzzy beards.  Foliage is prettier, almost resembling ornamental grass.

Iris plants are easy to transplant and share with others.  Their roots or rhizomes are almost potato like, and prefer to grow near the surface.  Dig up Iris clumps any time after they are done flowering and break the clump into smaller pieces.  Replant soon, making sure you don’t plant too deep.  The top of the roots should still be visible after planting.

Iris performs better if they are regularly dug up, split and replanted, recommended about every three years.  If you fail to periodically dig up and replant Iris, they will flower just fine, but the centre of the clump will slowly deteriorate.  Replanting Siberian Iris is not as critical as Bearded Iris.

Bearded Iris are not fond of water, and don’t want to be planted in heavy poorly drained soil.  All other Iris don’t mind what soil they live in.  Some Iris are water loving and will grow at the edge of a brook or in water gardens.

Iris are relatively pest free, but can be bothered by Iris borer, which is easy to spot because the borer begins its damage on the stems, then crawls down to the roots and begins eating, usually in the centre of the clump.  The best way to control Iris borer is to find it and remove it, keeping the obviously healthy undamaged roots.

Iris looks great when planted in mass plantings.  If you are buying Iris, there is no need to buy too many.  If you have patience, and if you obediently divide Iris every few years, two or three Iris can become a dozen or more within a decade.