Landscaping With Irises

Although it may seem incredible, the fact is that it is possible for gardeners to have their irises bloom for as many as 11 months a year provided they have selected the appropriate species and are growing the plants in a genuine temperate climate. Gardeners continually become enamoured with an iris, especially the bearded irises, and are subsequently enticed by the stunning Siberian irises. They may also be seduced by the lofty Japanese irises, which have a preference for water, and may choose to include an assortment of iris species in their own landscape.

In the border

In case you have a preference for tall irises, there are several possibilities. When the high bearded irises growing in their separate bed are in full bloom in spring they look marvellous. However, after the flowers wither away, the foliage itself appears somewhat gloomy and, in contemporary times, there are very few gardeners who devote the entire space in their garden to just one variety of plant. Nevertheless, the high-reaching and intermediate bearded variety of irises look wonderful when grown with perennials. For a better impact, you may grow these irises in group according to their colors - growing the plants in a scattered manner will not bring out the best in these plants. For instance, you may combine many different shades of the same hue or even go for contrasts selecting plants that bloom around the same time. When the flowers have faded, the leaves that are left behind on the plants will provide useful textural forms in your garden, especially among the plants that are bushier.

In fact, most gardeners say that they derive some kind of satisfaction when they grow different old varieties of dissimilar plants together. It is something like presenting companions from a departed age. The esteemed Iris pallida looks spectacular when it is grown alongside crimson rugosa roses like "Scabrosa", "Roseraie de L' Hay" or the Rosa rugosa rubra. In addition, growing the old selections of tall bearded irises in an interesting manner is to plant them in the form of a border in front of a stoechas lavender hedge. The later will not only bloom for a prolonged period in spring, but also in summer, provided the plants are trimmed lightly following the first blooming.

Another variety called the hybrid spuria irises grow taller compared to the tall bearded irises and both these varieties bloom almost simultaneously. As the flowers of the hybrid spuria irises usually have strong colors, they are effectual flowers when grown on the backside of a border or in front of a deep green hedge. It is very easy to grow these plants. Moreover, they flower in the beginning of the summer, at a time when the first flushes of roses are just about to emerge. The hybrid spuria irises also go well with other perennial plants in your garden. What is more is that the striking clumping form of these plants together with their high and lean flower stems, the hybrid spuria irises add more meaning when grown among more flossy or hairy plants.

The hybrid spuria irises are also excellent for mass planting and they are also competent enough to counter weeds when grown in an open space or the length of a meandering walkway. These plants also go well with candelabra primulas, making a casual planting partnered with the relatively tall variegated grasses, which form an excellent backdrop for summer perennial plants. If you plant the sedums, which flower quite late in the season, like Sedum spectabile "Autumn Joy" close to the hybrid spuria irises, the former will divert one's attention from the withering Siberian foliage during the fall.

If you are looking to grow tall iris varieties, you may also opt for the Louisiana irises. While this iris variety is relatively tall, cross-breeding undertaken in recent times has led to the development of plants having a compact size, which are ideal for growing in both large as well as small gardens. Louisiana irises are very adaptable and fit excellently in a perennial border, a bog garden, in containers - with or without water, provided the plants are watered sufficiently during their growing as well as flowering seasons. Louisiana irises take a relatively long time to bloom. The flowering stalk of the plant grows from the foliage and it may take as long as three weeks for the flower buds to eventually open. Growing this iris variety having splendid branches and slender covered buds includes an element of anticipation in your landscaped garden.

In bog or water

When water-loving irises are grown in mixed borders they can often create problems, as their thirsty nature may not go well with other plants growing in the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, these irises are gorgeous plants that definitely find a place in the "must-have" group. Therefore, you need to find a solution that suits the needs of the water-loving irises as well as other plants, which do not have a great affinity to water. One way out is creating a bog garden in your landscape where the water-loving irises can grow in their native habitat along with other plants that have a preference for growing close to water bodies.

Dig up a spot in your garden giving it your preferred shape. However, ensure that the depth of the area should be no less than 12 inches (30 cm). Subsequently, refill the portion using a somewhat acidic soil mix capable of retaining moisture. Add some peat, pine needles or leaf mold to make the soil mix moisture-retentive. While refilling the area, ensure that you fill the soil mix to a level that is lower compared to the rest of the garden. Doing this will help in flooding the area you have earmarked for your bog garden.

Hostas, rodgersias, gunnera and filipendula are a few plants that have a preference for growing in most areas. These plants complement the slender-leafed iris varieties, irrespective of their flowers are flashy floozies or small archetypal beauties. Moreover, the huge leaves of gunnera contrast excellently with flag irises grown beside a stream. The lady's mantle is also a beautiful companion plant for the water-loving irises, but you need to ensure that they are planted in such a manner that its base is not water logged.

In their native habitat, Japanese irises are widely grown in public gardens having meandering broad walks. In some areas, the beds of the plants are also flooded, which enables one to admire even the reflections of the flowers.

In containers

You should not be perturbed even if you do not have a provision for a water body or bog garden in your landscape. It is good news for iris lovers that the Japanese irises can also be grown successfully in containers. Moreover, you can also synchronize the pot to be a foil for the color of the flower or even the furniture in the garden. Hence, this method can help gardeners, who have a tiny backyard with plenty of sunlight, but no trace of water, to take delight in growing Japanese irises.

Ideally, you may grow the clumps of Japanese irises next to a bird bath or a place where the foliage will appear gorgeous even when they are not in bloom during the period between spring and the end of fall. These plants will flourish provided you take appropriate care. As they are grown in containers, they can be shifted from one place to another with a view to alter the landscaping effects, particularly if you have a small garden. While growing Japanese irises in pots, it is advisable that you opt for a big container and provide the plants with plenty of water during the period between spring and the end of summer. It is also important to feed the plants on a regular basis till the buds emerge. When the buds have formed, stop feeding the plants, because providing them with excessive foods during this phase may possibly cause the buds to drop. Move the plant into a new pot at intervals of two years. If you are living in a place having cold climatic conditions, it is advisable that you mulch the plant during the winter months, or bury the container in your garden until next spring.

Growing tall irises produces a simple, but effectual focus wherein the accent is on solid landscaping. It seems that the firmness of the lance-shaped foliage as well as the beauty of the well-formed flowers is augmented by the contrast created by the minimal planting as well as the rocks and gravel in the background.

You may also grow the tall Louisiana irises in containers, as they are effective accent plants in any garden. This iris variety prefers company and, hence, you may go for a large pot that will accommodate no less than three plants. At the same time, ensure that you provide the plants with lots of water during the spring and summer. Choose an iris variety that produces spectacular flowers and shift the container to an important place in your garden when the plants are in bloom. When the flowers have withered and the attraction has gone, move the container to an irrelevant corner of your garden where the plant can survive on its own until the next spring. However, at a suitable time before the next growing season arrives, you will require removing the plants from the container, divide them and subsequently repot them. This is necessary because Louisiana irises increase very rapidly.

It is important to remember that the tall bearded irises, Siberian irises and spuria irises are not suitable for growing in containers. However, most other iris varieties survive well when grown in pots. When you grow irises in containers or pots, it becomes quite easy to provide the appropriate growing medium to these plants that go well with their individual requirements.

Irrespective of the iris variety, the plant will require fertilizing on a regular basis, because these plants have a propensity to be heavy feeders and will rapidly take up whatever nutrient is available in the potting mix, thereby depleting the nutrient stock in the growing medium.

In the rock garden

The life of plants grown in or along a border in the garden is full of turbulence. While the tall iris varieties are able to deal with this situation on their own, the smaller iris varieties may become subdued easily when grown in such conditions. Therefore, a rock garden is ideal for growing the small iris varieties. As the rock gardens are created on an elevated level and have excellent drainage, you can create small pockets for different types of plants, including irises, and fill those areas with soils that fulfill the requirements of individual varieties. In fact, a rock garden is a perfect place to grow the dwarf bearded irises, which bloom quite early in the season.

It is advisable that you plant Iris cristata facing the dwarf bearded irises, if possible near a pathway so that people walking by can appreciate the flowers. On the other hand, grow the taller iris varieties like the Pacific Coast hybrids and Iris graminea at the rear of the border to enable these plants to develop spreading clumps.

Thickets of reticulata irises also grow excellently in rock gardens. Ideally, they should be grown just in front of dwarf rhododendrons or small hebes. Reticulata irises can be accompanied by other plants such as rock cress, scabiosa, aubretia, alyssum, and dwarf phlox, as these plants add to the color of the rock garden. However, it is important to ensure that these plants do not engulf the bearded irises' rhizomes. In addition, bulbous irises belonging to the Juno varieties are also excellent for growing in rock gardens. These plants not only possess the aptitude to deal with the groundcovers, but also endure the mats created by foliage of some plants.

History of irises
The anatomy of irises
Irises in the garden
Propagation of irises
Pests of irises
Diseases of irises


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