irises need company

EvesApple(z5 KS)February 10, 2005

I moved to a new house in August that has a 4'X10' or so weed bed...ahem, iris bed...in the front, which faces west for partial sun. Now the weeds in this weed bed are well established, woody stemmed, and tougher than I am. This bed needs to be dug, and since I didn't get a chance to do it when I should have in August I'm going to do it this March. I realize this is probably making some iris lovers cringe, but it's either that or face an entire summer looking at a weed bed next to a bagworm infested evergreen. Eck!

This is my first flower bed, and I could use some advice. I didn't get to see the irises before I moved in, but judging from the spent blooms I did see these irises are a dark blue or purple. I don't know if they're bearded, siberian or what. I think once they're liberated they'll take up somewhere between one third to one half of the bed. What kind of perennials and foliage look good and grow well next to irises? I would prefer something that will look nice with minimal help from me, considering that we only plan to be here five years or so and I don't have much faith that whoever lives here next will take care of the plants.

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enchantedplace

If you have to dig the iris to clean out the bed why not create a new bed for them without weeds. Even if they don't bloom after moving they should be well established the following year. Find a ref book on how to divide the rhizomes and what to discard. The foliage should recover well and be a nice accent for other plants. I plant fast growing annnuals in the iris beds, such as love in a mist (nigella) or a perennial that blooms at a later time, such as tall garden phlox or sweet rocket . Asters are also attractive. EP

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 11:09PM
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qbirdy(z4/5 Central NY)

I agree, clean out the whole bed and start new. The iris could probably stand to be divided too, and then you can see how much you have. I have iris by themselves in 2 large beds, they are right now under snow but last I saw had a lot of some winter annual weed in them. Weeds have choked another bed which has to be dug out too. The other irsis are in a large mixed garden.
I find planting marigolds and sweetwilliam make a good cover for the front, they are high enough not to keep the iris rhizomes wet and will quickly choke out weeds. I then have mixed peony and stock in the back, they are a little taller and fill in good too. Marigolds, pansy, johnny jump-up, strawflowers, petunias, snap dragon, asters, dusty miller, all will look good. Since you don't plan on being there too long they shouldn't cost too much and some will reseed themselves too.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 12:51PM
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EvesApple(z5 KS)

Oh, if only I could start a new bed. I didn't bring compost with me when I moved and by grace alone do I have enough stuff for one veggie bed. Fighting weeds will probably be less work than fighting turf and clay soil. Thanks for the ideas...hehehe, I've been looking for an excuse to plant snapdragons.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 6:26AM
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soniay(5)

hi, I don't know exactly were you live, but I live in Overland Park, KS, which is suburb of Greater Kansas City, Johnson County. Actually, iris foliage looks pretty decent all summer, after flowers bloomed, I would just get rid of weeds in that flower bed. Also, I have seen a lot of combination of roses and irises on the same bed. Well, if you decided to get rid of them anyway, and you live in the same area, I can come over and help you to dig'em up, if I get to keep the irises :-)
Sonia

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 7:12PM
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