Northern Shade Gardening

A Versatile Iris

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 Category: Perennials

Iris yellow with maroon fall
Iris flowers add a great deal of beauty to the garden for their brief burst of colour. This iris was in the garden when I moved here, so I’m not sure of the variety. I’ve divided it and moved it to many different exposures around the garden and it does well in all of them, from part sun to medium shade. I’ve been pleased with how many blossoms it has, even in the shadiest areas. This variety blooms in late spring. Although each plant only flowers for about 2 weeks, the iris blooms in a wave around my yard that lasts about 6 weeks. It always starts blooming in the bed by my back door, which is the warmest and sunniest. It then blooms around my deck, and ends with a flourish in the shady south east corner of the yard.

This iris looks best in groups by itself, although I have it mixed with other perennials too. It has standards that are a soft yellow and falls that are stippled maroon, with borders of yellow. At first I wasn’t as fond of the colour of the falls combined with the yellow, although I have grown to like it more every year.

The iris doesn’t require too much maintenance, other than removing the spent blossoms as they fade. Deadheading is actually a satisfying job, since the plants look so good when the decaying flowers are removed and the new blooms can shine. Besides, you don’t have to bend over as far when deadheading compared to weeding. It’s an easy job to do in short bursts while puttering around the garden. Although I’ve dug up, divided and replanted it to fill many areas as needed, there are sections of iris that I haven’t divided and they are still flowering fine. I put the rhizomes close to the surface of the soil, when transplanting them. In the fall I usually cut the foliage back.

There are more pictures of iris in a later post here.If it looks familiar, feel free to suggest a variety name.

Iris yellow standards maroon falls

12 Responses to “A Versatile Iris” »

  1. Nancy Bond :
    June 3, 2008 at 8:05 am

    They’re gorgeous! I rather like those speckled falls — they look like they’ve been gently spattered with paint. :)

  2. Helen :
    June 3, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    What a lovely Iris. I really like them, they add a certain elegance. I have put up a post on my site about my Irises as well – do pop along

  3. Amy :
    June 3, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I love irises. Such a low maintenance, easy to grow plant, and when they’re finished flowering the leaves still look wonderful.

  4. Northern Shade :
    June 3, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Nancy, I have to use a very fine paint brush to get all the detail that you see painted on their falls.

    Helen, I’ll be over to see your irises. I think they add elegance too, with their flowers held high, the distinctive petal shape, and the sword shaped foliage.

    Amy, I appreciate plants that are easy to grow. I’ve probably divided this iris to more areas than I should have, simply because it was available and growing.

  5. Gail :
    June 5, 2008 at 8:32 am

    I know nothing about Iris except how much I love the old timers that are in my garden! It tickles me how we grow fonder of plants, like the plain friend who gets lovelier with knowing.

  6. Northern Shade :
    June 5, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Hi Gail, it is funny how some plants become more charming over time. I have a red and gold daylily that was in the garden when I moved in too. It only ever had a few blooms and I wasn’t very fond of it. I actually considered off and on removing it. Then last summer it decided to put on the display of its life. It put out an incredible number of flowers over a long period of time. I started appreciating the dark rich colour of the blooms, with the gold throats and really love the plant now. I’m very glad I dithered over removing it, and can now enjoy it.

  7. Layanee :
    June 6, 2008 at 5:09 am

    NS: Sandy over at Gardenpath has an iris which looks very much like yours. It is a regal flower isn’t it. I would call it ‘Etchings’ because of the fine lines on the falls but then, I just made that up. Is it fragrant?

  8. Northern Shade :
    June 6, 2008 at 6:52 am

    Layanee, Etchings does have a fragrance, but it is not in the same class as lily of the valley, peonies, lilacs and roses.
    I read on garden path that her original iris had a more purplish fall, which sounds very much like mine.

  9. Barbara :
    June 7, 2008 at 6:45 am

    I have some few iris (blue, yellow and a white one), but they are growing on a sunny place. Where do you have yours? How much sun do they get daily? There are some shadow spots which are still empty and where I want to plant some plants with flowers.

  10. Northern Shade :
    June 7, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Barbara, I have some of my irises in part sun and some in medium shade. The ones in the shadiest exposure are in the corner of my yard on the north side of a fence which blocks most sun and also have a fence to the east blocking the morning sun. There is a pine tree right next to them, and they get some of the extended shade from the shadow of the willow on the other side of my yard which blocks the late afternoon sun. They get maybe an hour or so of direct sun and then mostly indirect light. I have been pleasantly surprised by how well they have bloomed. They have been in this location for 4 or 5 years. You can see a picture of this group from last year on http://northernshade.ca/plant-list/.
    I’m not sure if all irises are as accommodating.

  11. Barbara :
    June 8, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Thank you for the answer. It gives me the courage to have a try in my shadow bed under the Catalpa bign. tree. There actually I still have some roses which are growing worse from year to year.

  12. Northern Shade :
    June 8, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Barbara, I hope they work well for you.

Leave a Reply