Irises to grow in the garden
One of the deservedly popular flowers in gardens all over America – all over the world – is the iris. These plants all grow from storage-adapted roots and tend to flower with large, showy blooms. Since there are so many different kinds of irises that have evolved in different climates, most gardens can be planted with at least one kind that will adapt well. There is a wide selection of sizes and colors – even combinations of colors — available. Irises can slip into designs for shade or sun, formal or informal landscapes, or gardens in a wide range of styles. The following are just some of the popular types of iris.
Bulb irises are usually early blooming flowers that are easily planted as dormant bulbs. These tend to be smaller types of iris that readily spread into attractive clumps. Many varieties are ideal to cluster in garden beds or even naturalize into lawn edges to give an informal look to the garden. The most common colors are blues, purples, yellows and whites. The bulb iris blooms in early spring, shows off colorful blooms then dies back down quickly to leave room for later flowering plants. Like all bulbs, foliage should remain attached to the plant until yellow or brown so the energy can settle back into the bulb to be stored for next year’s growth.
The bearded iris is well known for its big, frilly, lollypop flowers. These plants come in an assortment of colors and blends, all with fuzzy stripes (‘beards’) on the inner central part of the lower petals (falls). Bearded Irises grow from creeping rhizomes.
Water irises make up a number of irises that love to grow in wet, boggy areas. One group, the Louisiana hybrid, displays some of the showiest blooms in moisture-loving irises. It flowers in a wide range of colors. These irises are ideal for wet areas or ponds.
A less well-known iris is the Japanese iris. Flowers have a slightly unusual flattened, yet very large decorative petal arrangement. This iris likes moist soil and holds its huge bloom high on a tall, thin stalk.
The ‘Pacific Coast Hybrid’ irises are colorful hybrids of several native California species including the Iris douglasiana. A variable plant, it has short-lived blooms that open in succession to put on a colorful spring show. They prefer a little dappled shade or full shade. These irises come in an assortment of colors and are quite drought tolerant.
This is only a small selection of the wide range of garden iris plants. Some handle wet conditions whereas others like it dry. Some tolerate shade and some prefer full sun. There are more iris varieties like English Irises, Reticulata irises (bulb), Dutch and Spanish irises. There are so many colorful and decorative irises that are adapted to different climates, designs and themes that there should be a good selection to choose from for your garden, no matter where you live.
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