Connecticut Garden Journal: Unusual Iris | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Unusual Iris

Apr 14, 2016

Iris reticulata grow from fall planted bulbs and is stunning when planted in groups.
Bearded iris garden.
Credit Marilyn Brinker / Creative Commons

Irises are embedded in our art and culture. Vincent Van Gough and Georgia O’Keefe loved to paint them. Mary Oliver and Robert Frost waxed poetic about them.

The most familiar iris is the bearded iris. It's called the Goddess on Rainbows in Greek for good reason. The big gaudy flowers come in a wide range of colors. By the way, the beard is the fuzzy attached petal at the base of the flower.

While bearded iris are beautiful. I like to grow some of the other types for our region.

Siberian iris come in colors such as white, blue, and purple. Caesars Brother and White Gulls are two popular varieties.

There's even a new yellow Siberian iris called Chartreuse Bounty.

Unlike bearded iris that grow from rhizomes, Siberian iris grow in clumps. The flowers are smaller and not as ostentatious as bearded iris, but the plant is virtually pest free.

White gull, a variety of Siberian iris.
Credit F. D. Richards / Creative Commons

The Japanese iris has flowers that look like butterflies floating on the stems. It thrives in well-drained, yet moist, acidic soils, and blooms in June and July, after most other iris are finished. 

Loyalty has eight-inch diameter purple flowers with a hint of white.

Queen's Tiara has white flowers with purple and yellow highlights.

Iris reticulata.
Credit Lotus Johnson / Creative Commons

Divide Siberian and Japanese iris after flowering every three to four years to keep them healthy.

An iris you'll see in flower now is Iris reticulata. This small beauty grows from fall planted bulbs, and is stunning planted in groups.

Eye Catcher is a variety with white flowers with blue and yellow markings.

Iris reticulata will also naturalize over time to spread around your garden.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about hot peppers. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.