Iris - TOW

Floral Artistry/John Ingram
Sat, 13 Mar 2004 10:01:59 PST
I am a little late getting in on this discussion as I am traveling right now for work but here are a few comments I have on iris as seen in Canton, OH.

I have a large collection of bearded (German) iris. They are pretty self sufficient but I have had a little rot on some of them. The landscape co. that comes to do the weeding and mulching always sends a few high school or at least young guys to do the work. One of them said once that he hates German iris. I asked why and he said they were so common and "old-lady-like". When I showed him the 4' spikes with 8" tall flowers he did a second take and conceeded that there are some nice ones in my garden but not elsewhere. So, I gave him and his cohort a few starts to try for themselves. I would say that I have maybe a dozen different colors. I have enough of these and will probably not add any more unless something fabulous crosses my path. The foliage I don't ever leave. After they are done flowering (if that happens when I am in OH working), I cut them back to a 6" fan and discard the leaves in the trash to be removed not composted. This keeps them tidy and less of an eyesore.

Dutch, well, they are out there somewhere. There are Dutch and English in the garden and since I never see either bloom, as I am not sure where, I can't say which are doing the best. Both have never really increased over time. They are still single growths that I see in the spring. I guess they bloom as my uncle says that they are cute. So, I leave them alone. 

I do have some Spurias but I was not aware of the size that they can achieve. I planted them randomly in the front of the one bed by the barn (a rather focal area). I wanted to have large tufts of green foliage there as a foil for the other plants nearby. They have increased slightly over the last few years but have not bloomed that I am aware. I have never cut back any flowering stems in the fall. I will be moving them to further back in the bed and to other locations. 

Siberian iries, well, there are quite a few that I have tried killing over their first year. I got about 8 or more varieties from a local "herb farm" in the Amish country. They were deep 4" pots. When I planted them, I had only known German and Japanese iris. I thought all iries, excpet Japanese, liked lime. So, I generously plopped a nice handfull around all the SIberians after they were planted. Well, the nice 4-5 fan plants became a 1/2 fan the next spring. That was 3 years ago. They are now increasing in size and some have put out a few stems of blooms. Many have lost their labels but since I never see them in bloom, I guess it doesn't really matter. 'Caeser's Brother' is one that has continually done well even though it is in full shade on the north side of the barn and in very heavy wet clay soil. I just wish they all would grow as well. 

I have several Japanese (ensata) varieties. I don't know what the varieties are off the top of my head but, they are all doing really well in clay soil. I have never seen them bloom but my uncle thinks they are very exotic and unusual. I will be dividing them up and spreading them around the garden. I purchased several more varieties from Ensata Gardens last spring but many did not make it through the summer. My uncle really does not do any gardeninig. He can spray round-up and that is it. And at that he usually sprays everything in it's path and I loose quite a few plants that way. 

Louisana iris are nice. I have several "Hugo Rainbow Mix" from Wayside several years ago. They were taking over a whole area so I gave most away or tossed them. They really run a lot more than I like. They are so tenacious that it is almost impossible to remove the grass that grows in from the lawn. 

I have several large clumps of other iris that I have never seen bloom but there are a lot of seeds produced every year so bloom must be excessive. The clumps are between 3-4' tall and very tight. There were several varieties planted on 2' center and they now are grown together. Last fall I removed several of them and replanted them out into a new part of the bed. I left them as one clump as I liked there specimen status. They came from either Wayside or Parks about 4 years ago. 

I do have some other misc. things planted. I have a dark purple reticulata. I have never seen the flowers (again) but the foliage is very annoying. I don't like the fact that the leaves are 2' tall and floppy at the edge of the bed. I'll be pulling them out this year after bloom. 

There are some nice dwarf bearded ones out there (lost the labels), bucharii (spelling?) that flowered nicely last year - it's first year, pallida forms (I use these everywhere and constantly buy more). As a side note, pallida is doing really well next to the mailbox in nearly pure sand and gravel. They tolerate the winter salt from the road with absolutely no burn at all. They really don't flower there but, the foliage is more than enough for me. The other locations flower really well and the fragrance is unbelieveable. When it opend the first time, I thought there must be something else blooming that was fragrant as I did not think that iris were that fragrant. I was wrong. I was over 4' away and got a good sniff of it. Now I have 2 doz. pallida plants, both forms, all over. 

I have a small crestata type iris that I had under a 4' magnolia until I realized they require different soil types. 

I also have a nice florentina that I love the fragrance of. It really is not showy compared to the German/bearded, so they aren't planted near to them. But the color and fragrance has assured it a place in the garden for many years. 

I've tried "Black Gamecock' several times but I can't get the rhizomes to take off. I've pretty much given up on it. 

I am looking to increase my iris collection to the other unusual plants such as the arils, Ocon.. etc. 

On a different note, if anyone is a member of the San Diego Hort society, there was a lecture that I was lucky enought to see several weeks ago. I have a list of iris that are in bloom 9-11 months out of the year. I will be avidly looking for these. Some of them are available at Buena Creek Gardens. They supplied a list of what they have available. 



John Ingram in L.A., CA. 
Soon to become check it out soon

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