I’ve been speaking to iris specialists Iris of Sissinghurst about rising irises.
Sue Marshall owns and runs Iris of Sissinghurst and so they solely develop irises. They promote by mail order, to backyard designers and for the exhibits, such because the RHS Chelsea Flower Present, the place they’ve received a number of awards.
Sue says there’s an iris for each scenario and each backyard, whether or not small, middle-sized or massive, no matter your local weather, soil or even when your backyard is kind of shady.
Irises are usually not simply water crops
There’s a typical false impression that irises are water crops. There are water irises, however they’re solely a small number of what you possibly can develop.
They’re usually Mediterranean crops so love sizzling, dry climates. But I backyard on heavy clay soil in what can be a zone eight or 9 in South east England, as do Iris of Sissinghurst. I’ve about 5 completely different bearded irises doing nicely, plus a number of very joyful, prolific clumps of Siberian irises.
Irises are available probably the most beautiful colors
You will get fairly pastels and whites or outrageously tropical oranges and pinks.
After which there are the superbly basic blues and purples.
Most significantly, many newly-bred irises bloom for longer, and can put up with extra shade than a number of the conventional ones.
So there’s actual potential for irises to be to our spring and summer season gardens what dahlias are to the autumn backyard, whether or not you desire a romantic mushy look or a brilliantly vibrant, unique tropical look or something in between.
And it’s additionally value remembering that the spiky, sculptural iris leaves add construction to a border even when the plant is just not in flower.
Irises are surprisingly simple to develop…
The American Iris Society, celebrating its centenary this yr, says irises are amongst the simplest perennials to develop.
I’d actually echo that – I’d at all times thought that rising irises wasn’t for me. Seeing their frilly, fragile flowers, I believed they would want loads of time and a focus, however not a little bit of it. I’ve had 4 irises for round seven years on this backyard and so they have been nearly no work in any respect.
There may be iris care recommendation on each the Iris of Sissinghurst and the American Iris Society web sites. They usually have been going to share a stand on the now-cancelled RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2020.
Can irises develop in shade? Or do they want solar?
Usually, irises do greatest in full solar says Sue.
These of us with small and middle-sized gardens typically have little or no in the way in which of full solar – and plenty of crops that want solar. However we are able to nonetheless develop a variety of irises.
There are lots of sorts of iris, says Sue, however on this publish, I’ll keep on with the tall, intermediate, quick bearded irises and Siberian irises as a result of these are amongst those you’re more than likely to purchase on your backyard.
Tall bearded irises – they’ll be 2-3ft tall – do want full solar advises Sue.
However the intermediate – about 18” excessive – or quick irises – about 12”, in addition to Sibirica irises can typically handle borders the place they’re within the solar for half a day and shaded the opposite half.
The factor to know is that irises want the solar on their rhizomes, particularly in summer season, so in the event that they’re surrounded by very leafy shrubs or flowers, be certain these leaves aren’t shading the rhizomes. It’s additionally value realizing that typically an iris in a shadier spot will nonetheless flower, however it is going to flower much less.
An iris for each scenario…
At Doddington Place Gardens in Kent, there are some stunning tall irises in an open sunny place over trying countryside.
However simply beside them is a big group of quick irises rising below an previous conifer. You wouldn’t usually consider rising a solar loving plant below the branches of a conifer, however there are the explanation why this works.
Firstly, the conifer is tall and all of the decrease branches have been reduce away. Fairly a little bit of daylight reaches the irises. And secondly, these irises have been planted with loads of area for gentle to succeed in their rhizomes.
You need to plant iris rhizome in order that the solar can bake it, says Sue. Underneath this conifer, there are not any different crops alongside the irises to shade them with their leaves.
Plant irises within the fronts of borders…
You may maximise the solar to your iris by planting it within the entrance of a border. I’ve performed this with a number of irises, together with ‘Folie Douce’ and ‘Sable’. They’ve grown brilliantly though I do have tall bushes and hedges in my backyard, and fairly packed borders.
The rest about the place to plant irises?
Sue says yow will discover a iris for any soil kind, though they typically like nicely drained soil. It doesn’t should be notably fertile. Each Iris of Sissinghurst and I are on a Kent clay soil and the irises develop nicely on them.
However bearded irises received’t wish to get too soggy, particularly in winter. You probably have a humid backyard, examine a specialist iris grower for irises that love damp soil.
When to plant irises?
Sue says you possibly can plant pot grown irises, together with iris sibirica, all yr spherical however naked rooted irises needs to be planted from July to October. Plant sibirica irises in autumn.
Extra tips about selecting irises
When you’ve assessed how a lot solar you can provide your irises, then Sue says select plant with good inexperienced leaves with no spots. Spots may point out a fungal illness. And select irises with a agency rhizome. You shouldn’t purchase an iris that has any signal of a gray mould.
If the stem is already on the plant, rely the buds. The extra buds on an iris stalk, the longer it is going to flower because the buds open in succession. Newer forms of iris have been bred for longer flowering occasions.
Older varieties are likely to have fewer buds and consequently go over faster.
You may typically see a second bud behind the primary one. As soon as the primary flower is dying, snip it off to permit the bud behind to develop. In sizzling climate, the buds will open sooner but when there’s a cool spell, they’ll decelerate, so you possibly can have an iris in flower for greater than a month.
When to divide irises?
If you happen to’re rising irises in your backyard, they’ll want dividing each three to 5 years. If you happen to’re rising irises in pots, they are going to want dividing as quickly as their roots contact the aspect of the pot, as a result of that’s one thing they actually hate.
Divide in July, after they’ve flowered. Dig them up, break up off rhizomes and discard oldest piece. Sue says that irises are remarkably powerful – you possibly can even reduce a rhizome in half and if it nonetheless has roots on it, it is going to nonetheless develop.
Re-plant agency, plump rhizomes instantly but when they really feel mushy and withered then they’re usually too previous so needs to be discarded. Additionally reduce the leaves throughout by about half – that is to scale back wind rock whereas the brand new roots are re-establishing – but it surely’s solely after re-planting that you’ll want to do that. Whereas iris leaves are inexperienced, they’re feeding the plant.
You may carry and divide Iris Sibiricas in autumn, alongside along with your different herbaceous perennials.
What crops go nicely with irises?
Iris of Sissinghurst recommends pairing alliums with irises, as a result of allium foliage dies again early in summer season and received’t shade the irises. Different bulbs reminiscent of nerines will develop fortunately beside irises, too, for a similar cause.
For a dramatic flower color distinction, select crops that flower on the similar time, reminiscent of lupins, aquilegias and colombines, as do peonies. In my backyard, a rose is joyful aspect by aspect with an iris. However watch out that the peony or rose foliage doesn’t shade the iris rhizomes in a while in the summertime.
Personally I really like seeing irises with euphorbia which can also be good in late spring, early summer season.
And Sue say says that the Sibirica irises will develop in a herbaceous border, partnering with most different perennials, so that they don’t appear to thoughts a little bit of crowding up.
Are there repeat flowering irises?
Sure – see Iris of Sissinghurst’s hyperlink to repeat flowering irises.
Irises that repeat flower embrace Tall bearded: Rosalie Figge, St Petersburg, Buckwheat, Autumn Circus, Mariposa Autumn, Finest Guess, Champagne Class, Mariposa Skies within the tall bearded class. Brief bearded repeat flowerers embrace Sizzling, Flirting Once more and Wizard’s Return.
Repeat flowering Iris Sibiricas embrace Purple Sand, Careless Sally and Ever Once more.
How do you take care of an iris in winter?
First just remember to select an iris which is able to develop nicely in your local weather. Irises are hardy in chilly climate, however completely different irises differ, so some will survive colder winters than others.
However they typically don’t like moist and chilly, so make it possible for your iris isn’t sitting in chilly moist soil.
You don’t must trim leaves for winter until you’ve lately replanted it. I clear away any particles in order that soggy leaves aren’t sitting on the rhizomes, and I typically scatter grit across the iris. I picked this tip up from Leeds Citadel gardens and it’s a useful manner of marking out the irises territory once they have so few leaves.
Do irises want staking?
The quick and intermediate ones don’t want staking say Iris of Sissinghurst however the tall ones may have a cane. Use a mushy tie not a wire. Personally, I take advantage of a shepherds criminal kind assist made by Plant Belles. I wind the iris stem into the scroll on the high. When that iris is over, I pull it out and use it for one more iris stem.
Are irises toxic to canines or cats?
Sure, irises are toxic however instances of cats or canines being poisoned by them are comparatively uncommon, as they wouldn’t usually attempt to eat an iris. But when your canine or cat is within the behavior of consuming crops in your border, then rising irises in all probability isn’t for you.
Sue advises you to not go away an iris rhizome rolling round when you’ve got a playful pet or cat. They could suppose it’s a toy and begin chewing it.
Are you able to develop irises in pots?
Don’t develop tall or intermediate bearded irises in pots, however Iris of Sissinghurst say you possibly can develop the quick ones. And in addition repot recurrently, as soon as the iris roots contact the aspect of the pot as they actually don’t like that.
What issues do irises have?
Irises are usually fairly hassle free. The 2 fundamental illnesses you actually should be careful for in irises, says Sue is leaf spot and rhizome rot.
Leaf spot is a fungus like black spot on roses, reduce the leaf off and get rid of it, and in case you use anti-fungal sprays then use one. With rhizome rot, dig up and divide the iris, disposing of any rotten or shrivelled root, or you possibly can typically even reduce the rotted bit out.
Why is my iris not flowering?
The primary reply to this query is that the iris root is just not getting sufficient solar, says Sue. Even when it has flowered in earlier years, one thing might have grown and began shading it.
For instance, I’ve been rising a phenomenal iris Folie Douce. I planted it on a sunny nook of a south dealing with mattress and it’s been beautiful. However I can see that this yr there don’t appear to be any flowering stems.
However it’s planted subsequent to a rose and that rose grew so much final yr. The rose foliage doesn’t seem to cowl the iris rhizome, however it in daylight I can see that the foliage is certainly casting a shadow over the iris roots. I’ll both have to maneuver the iris or reduce the rose with a view to preserve the flowering nearly as good because it has been.
The quantity two cause why your iris isn’t flowering may very well be in case you’ve been feeding it an excessive amount of fertiliser. Don’t fertilise an iris too typically or it’ll develop leaves on the expense of flowers, says Sue. Simply add a small quantity of fertiliser once you divide and replant however in any other case go away alone.
The quantity three cause for non-flowering is that your iris is overcrowded and must be lifted and divided.
And at last, in case your iris has solely lately be planted or replanted, then it could take time to ascertain. It could not flower this summer season, but when it has sufficient solar on its rhizomes it could flower subsequent.
However rising irises has its surprises…
I’ve a clump of gorgeous pale pink irises (known as Beverley Sills) which appear to be breaking the principles.
The rhizomes of Beverley Sills are swamped by a clump of vigorous Cerinthe main ‘Purpurescens’. But I can see flower stems on it.
It appears the important thing to that is that the cerinthe is an annual and it re-seeds itself. It emerges round January and February however by the point it’s swamped the iris roots, it’s able to flower. It’ll flower for about 6 weeks from early April onwards. Then I’ll clear it away.
So the iris roots can be uncovered to full solar from June and over the essential summer season months, so that’s the reason I used to be getting away with apparently overcrowding my iris. And the rhizomes are additionally uncovered for a lot of the winter, too.
Rising irises video
Extra about Iris of Sissinghurst
Iris of Sissinghurst are primarily based in Kent, South East England. They solely promote irises – by mail order, at exhibits and to backyard designers.
However there are a variety of ‘open weekends’ a yr, timed to coincide with when completely different irises flower. Clients can go to, see the irises in bloom and purchase. These are at the moment closed as a result of Covid 19, however seek the advice of the web site for re-opening occasions.
For the RHS Chelsea Flower Present, they normally hyperlink up with the French firm, Cayeux Iris, one of many largest iris growers on the earth. Collectively they’ve received a number of silver, silver-gilt and gold medals for his or her shows.
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