Irises Grab Attention
Irises are beginning to get noticed as they come into bloom in local flowerbeds. The bearded iris and Siberian iris varieties grow very well in our Prince George climate. They are hardy, deer resistant, drought tolerant and require very little maintenance and care, making them the ideal perennial for those low maintenance landscapes. They are an attractive looking plant, even when they are not it bloom as the foliage also adds to the appearance of the flowerbed. The bearded iris has broad, flat sword-like leaves, and the Siberian iris has thin grass-like leaves that sway in the wind, giving motion to the landscape. Attractive foliage is important, because like many perennials, irises have a short bloom period, only lasting a few weeks.
The first to bloom are the Bearded Iris, which are blooming now. The flowers on the bearded iris are larger than those on the Siberian Iris. Bearded Iris flowers have six petals. The three petals that grow upward are called standards and the three petals that grow downwards are the falls. The falls are fuzzy and look like a beard which is where the name ‘bearded iris’ comes from. Bearded Iris flowers come in a wide array of colours and colour combinations.
Siberian iris flowers are similar but are smaller and more delicate. After the siberian iris have finished blooming they form a seed pod which should be removed as it takes energy away from the plant. Don’t throw the seed pod away as it is attractive and often used in floral arrangements.
Bearded iris are grown by rhizomes. It is important to plant them in a well-drained soil so that the rhizomes don’t rot, which can happen if they are too wet. When planting a bearded iris, plant it to the same depth it was in the container. They prefer to have the top of rhizome slightly exposed as this will allow the sun to keep it dry, so plant it in a sunny location (6-8 hours of daily sunshine). They also need good air circulation, so don’t plant other plants too close to them. Irises will slowly spread out through the years, and the centre will die out. Every 3-4 years, after they have finished blooming, iris plants should be dug up, divided, and replanted to keep plants looking healthy. Only replant the healthy rhizomes and toss out rhizomes that are soft and mushy. After it has been replanted, trim back the foliage.
Siberian iris do best in full sun/partial shade. They will tolerate wet conditions and do not like to go dry. They require less maintenance than the bearded iris, because they are slower growing, and only need to be divided every 8-10 years.
Irises are a beautiful, low maintenance perennial that anyone can grow!
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road