Iris in the Landscape

Do you have a hard-to-fill spot in your landscape? Want something special to fill it with? Consider an iris! With so many different types of iris available, one is bound to be suitable for the space you have available. For details on the various types of iris, use the culture links above.

For full sun, or mostly full sun, and well-drained areas, any bearded iris would be happy. Proper watering in during dry spells and a good slow-release fertilizer will keep them looking good throughout the growing season. Since bearded irises are available starting with Miniature Dwarf up to Tall Bearded and come in an astounding array of colors, your possibilities might very well be limitless! Miniature Dwarf and Standard Dwarf Bearded iris are great for rockeries and edge plantings. The Intermediate and Border Bearded are excellent in central areas of a perennial flowerbed. Tall Bearded iris are best used as background plants where they can bloom gloriously on their 36" to 60" stalks and then blend into the rest of the landscape for the summer. And if you are a bit cramped on space, Miniature Tall Bearded iris might be just what you are looking for. They look just like Tall Bearded iris in form, but are about half the size! They are also excellent in cut flower arrangements. The wide bladed foliage of the fans can be is quite effective in helping to delineate and shape growing spaces.

Also for full/almost full sun is the beardless Siberian Iris. Siberians are relatively common in landscape usage as they form nice, tight clumps and bloom strongly. The foliage is slender, almost grass-like and can be used for greenery in floral arrangements. The flowers colors of Siberian iris tend more towards the white, blue and pink shades, although recent hybridizing efforts are promising for yellows and oranges. Also to be considered would be the taller Spuria iris. Great as background plants, they can provide a temporary focal point in early summer in some hard-to-reach back corner or low maintenance area. Again, proper watering in during dry times and a good slow-release fertilizer will keep them looking good throughout the growing season.

Now, for that sunny yet damp area, Japanese iris are just the answer you've been looking for. Japanese iris enjoy moisture... but not "wet feet". The long, slender foliage is also grass-like, but heavier and often with a silver-gray cast to it. The blooms can be quite spectacular; the color range and patterning is extensive and the sizes can span 3" to 12". Best in large clumps, Japanese iris can create quite an impact in your perennial bed!

Louisiana Iris love "wet feet", so for those really wet areas around ponds are streams, this is your best choice. Heavier strap shaped leaves rise up from vigorous, wide-reaching rhizomes. The flowers are velvety in texture and show some intense colors. I highly recommend them!! Our Washington native Iris pseudacorus and associated hybrids also do well in wet areas. Just be sure to not let them go to seed, as they can be obnoxiously prolific.

For semi-shady areas, Pacific Coast Native iris would be your best bet. They tend to be relatively short (12-18" high) and compact growers. Thinner leaves are grass-like, but heavier in texture. If they are happy in their home they can grow into a sizable clump. They are wonderful for use in naturalizing and undergrowth plantings.

Let's not forget to mention bulb iris and specie iris. Bulb iris are like any other bulb in that they grow, bloom, the foliage lingers while it support next year's bulb production and then dies down for the season. Excellent for spots of color in your annual or perennial beds. Specie iris come in many assorted sizes, shapes and styles. They tend to be quite vigorous in growth. The flowers aren't always as spectacular as the various hybridized iris, but they still deserve careful consideration!

With all of these choices, how could you not have one or two iris in your landscape? If you have yet to experience the wonders of growing iris, get out there and start planting! If you already are growing iris, there is always room for more!