Search articles from 1992 to the present.
Growing Siberian Irises in the Home Garden
This article was published originally on 3/28/1997There are approximately 200 species of Iris. Bearded irises are one of the most common perennials in the home garden. Though less popular than the bearded irises, Siberian irises (Iris sibirica) are excellent perennials. They are hardy, easy to grow, and relatively trouble-free.
Iris flowers are composed of 6 segments. The inner 3 upright segments are the true petals and are referred to as standards. The drooping, outer 3 segments are petal-like sepals and are known as falls.
The flowers of Siberian irises are smaller and more delicate than those of the bearded irises. Unlike bearded irises, their falls do not have fuzzy growths or beards. Numerous varieties of Siberian irises are available. They are available in shades of blue, purple, wine-red, pink, white, and yellow. Their flowers are borne atop tall stems in late May or June.
The foliage of Siberian irises is narrow (approximately 1/2 inch wide), upright, grass-like in appearance. The green foliage often turns to an attractive yellow or orange-brown in the fall. Siberian iris varieties range in height from 12 to 40 inches.
Siberian irises perform best in moist, well-drained, fertile soils. However, they will tolerate poor, dry sites. They can be grown in partial shade to full sun.
Siberian irises are usually planted in spring or late summer. However, container grown material can be planted any time during the growing season. Space plants about 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant 3, 5, or more of the same variety in a clump for the best visual display.
To aid establishment, water Siberian irises once a week during hot, dry weather. Water when needed for at least one full growing season.
Plants seldom bloom the first year after planting. Siberian irises should be blooming well by the third or fourth year. They will eventually form large, well-established clumps.
Established Siberian irises don't require a great deal of care. Plants can be lightly fertilized in early spring with an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. They can also be fertilized immediately after bloom. A 2- to 3-inch-layer of mulch around the plants helps control weeds and conserves soil moisture. If possible, water once a week during hot, dry weather. Cut back the dead debris in late fall or early spring.
Siberian irises don't have serious insect or disease problems. Unlike bearded irises, they are seldom bothered by the iris borer, soft rot, or leaf spot.
Division is rarely necessary for Siberian irises. Divide Siberian irises when clumps become crowded or when flowering decreases. Clumps can be divided in early spring at the first sign of growth or immediately after bloom.
Home gardeners can choose from numerous Siberian iris varieties. Suggested varieties include:
When selecting perennials for the home garden, be sure to include Siberian irises.
Year of Publication:
IC-477(6) -- March 28, 1997